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Why You need a Web Committee

This is about the value of a web committee and how you get one. My target audience is the volunteer web master. I wrote it for my section on church web design, but most of the points are valid for most non-profit organizations, religious or not.

Committees do many good things:

Now the question is, how do you get a web committee? We went to the chairs of the major committees and said "Look, the web site is the first thing many of our visitors will see. We need to make sure your committee has a say in what goes into it. Please appoint a representative to be on the web committee."

Note that the committee members are not assistant web masters. They are non-technical people with common sense who agree to read their e-mail every couple of days.

Our Social Action chair agreed to chair the Web Committee. He has high hopes for our ability to change the world electronically. The fact I report to him, the way the guy behind the lawn mower reports to the chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, is a useful check and balance. It keeps the power from going to my head.

We make it as easy as possible to be a member. We "meet" via e-mail; I tell them when I have new ideas, they write to the committee when they have a suggestion. We usually agree unanimously. If we don't, the chair calls a vote by e-mail. It is not a secret ballot, but neither is "All in favor say 'Aye'." in a physical committee meeting. Members have 72 hours to vote. After that, even if the vote is 2:1 out of 9 possible, the majority rules.

I send them a note every time I update the site from the newsletter, out of courtesy. (We have a policy - I don't have to ask, and they don't have to respond, when I update the "Standard" pages - Sermon Topics, Children's Topics and Calendar pages. I can add any sermon our minister or a guest has given without asking. too. No sense micro-managing. I ask about new pages or design changes to existing ones.)

If I have a new idea I'll cobble it up as test.html, FTP it to the server, send the committee the link and ask them what they think. Sometimes I FTP test_1.html, test_2.html and test_3.html and ask the committee which version they like best. (I don't link to the page(s) from anywhere but the e-mail message. A determined hacker could see them, but anyone that desperate is welcome to look.)

Our non-technical committee isn't as good as having a really good CMS, six people to contribute printed content, a podcasting editor and a corner office on the second floor of the administrative wing, but it is better than nothing, it keeps the website from being "My Opinions about our church" and it makes for a web site that the general public can easily use.

* I'm a Unitarian Universalist. We have Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Deists, Free-thinkers, Humanists, Christians, Jews, Theists, Wiccans, and some who resist labels. We are not a normal church.
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This is a page in my site's section on Web Design. The section has a page for:
Student Web Site suggestions
Church Web Site suggestions
HTML colors and Hexadecimal numbers
Usability suggestions for any non-profit organization with a volunteer web master.
You might also like the essay, My Adventures as a UU Web Master, a talk I gave to my church about being their web master.

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This page updated: June 21, 2014