An agency web site is one of the most important communication tools available – it is affordable,
easily updatable and available to all publics at all times. By using the tool properly, an agency
can run more efficiently by eliminating many simple information- seeking phone calls.
The size and intricacy of a web site is determined by the size and capabilities of an agency.
Minimally, it is suggested that a web site contain basic information, such as contacts and
services. A smaller agency may not have a dedicated webmaster and this role may be filled by
someone capable of making basic updates. The web site needs to be planned accordingly, using
software a non- designer/developer will be able to easily use, such as a Content Management System.
It is important that Communications be involved in, if not responsible for, the content of the
agency web site.
Updating the web site is essential – outdated information will be useless and can be damaging to an
agency. An assigned person can make regularly scheduled reviews of the site and contact subject
matter experts to assist with updates as needed.
Importantly, an agency’s web site should include a disclaimer noting that child abuse reports will
not be accepted through a site via email. An agency may want to consult its law department to
ensure the disclaimer’s wording properly conveys this message so as to protect an agency if an
allegation is improperly made through the site. This message should include the agency’s child
abuse reporting hotline.
When creating a web site it is essential to consider the following:
Web Site Planning and Development
The first step in developing a web site is good planning. Subject matter experts, youth and
families served, staff and contracted providers should be consulted in this step and every
subsequent construction step. This can be achieved through online and/or email surveys, focus groups and interviews. Surveying key audiences allows the agency to determine the needs to be fulfilled by the web site. Periodically consulting the same audiences afterwards helps to keep the site relevant. This will ultimately ensure the web site is complete and well used.
Web Site Organization
Web site organization is essential to a useful and therefore successful, web site. The size of the
agency and services offered will determine how a site is organized.
General rules for web site organization are:
Web Site Design
Incorporate the agency’s branding design into the web site by using identical colors and fonts and
the agency logo. Many hosting companies will offer templates, allowing an agency to choose its own
color scheme and logo while using a basic standardized layout. Others will offer full design
services. A graphic design company can be used (and is suggested) for a professional customized web
Important considerations include:
Web Site Content
Content should initially be written by subject matter experts with editing by Communications. It is
important to know the needs and habits of web site users. In general, web site users quickly scan.
Web sites should reflect this practice and be written accordingly, using bullets more often than
long paragraphs, whenever possible. Consistency is important, especially if several Subject Matter
Experts will contribute. The information should be presented in a uniform way with a consistent