Community Service

Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

This seems like a perfect post for shameless self-promotion. About two years ago I was asked to voluntarily build a website for my local parish council. I enjoy webdesign and building perhaps a little more than I do actually using the sites that I’ve created, so I set about the task with the Council understanding that I am no expert.

Previous attempts at the site I was creating have revolved largely around the Council itself and previous owners had lost interest. Such a static site is never likely to provide much entertainment. The first thing we looked at was what we wanted the site to do. Obviously this is important because it affects the information on the site and how this information is presented.

What we were keen on was community engagement. We didn’t just want the community to read, but we wanted them to get involved and be interested. We checked out other similarly placed sites and found them to just be lists of events with a brief history of the area. There was no way to be interactive.

At the moment our site still largely resembles a blog but we spent a fair bit of time working out the presentation of it. Comments are important to us and we wanted social media to play a role in the ease of communication. We wanted people to send in their issues to the Council, and we created a Memory Book to try to gather interesting stories about our area over time. When I’ve created websites for groups or organisations in the past, one thing I’ve been keen on is that the diversity of that group shows through, so Memory Book was quite important to me. In future we also hope to open up the site to schools and local businesses to be able to add stories of their own accord.

It was the sense of community that we based things round – both the geographical area consisting if its inhabitants as well as a group of people with common interests.

Our site still isn’t finished. We have had a few issues getting up and running, especially with changes in the group sponsoring it. It got its first official advertising only last Friday and we had a spike in our hits over the weekend. We are still building content and still getting our strategy together. Not an ideal way round, but that was what we had to do and the core functionality is there.

So if my community was going to read this, I would ask them to visit and get involved, because the biggest thing about a community for me is that they work together.

Umm… Lyrics…. Ummm…

Gotta work for your family.
A community built on trust.

It’s Alright by The Kinks

Comments 2

  1. Your Scarisbrick site is looking good, I like the layout and the pictures.
    This kind of site is exactly what I was talking about in my latest post regarding how people can do community service from the comfort of their home computers.
    Good luck with it, and that visual of your teeth & appendix, well, I wouldn’t mind if you would move the appendix away from the teeth just a touch…

    • Hey Maddy, thanks for your comment! It is certainly much easier for people to connect. We’ll see how it goes!

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