What's the best group process for updating a website?
September 9, 2019 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Our Toastmasters Club has a website that needs updating. We have less than 4 people who are going to give input. What's the best way of collecting this input? My first thought would be to get everyone in a room and have paper copies of all the pages and go over them together. (The website has less than thirty pages total). Is there a better way? And if we do use a group meeting, how best to solicit and record the feedback?
posted by storybored to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, I should mention we *do* have access to a projector that can project the website for everyone to see.
posted by storybored at 8:02 AM on September 9, 2019

If it's mostly text you're concerned about, and not layout, save the 30 pages as HTML documents, load them into Word or Google Docs and then use track changes to capture changes live or comments to flag long sections for offline revisions. Ask people to review the documents ahead of time and make notes on their areas of concern so you aren't all live reading together in a room and you can focus on the bits people actually have issues with.

If it's a lot of text changes -- like, you plan to rewrite most of the pages extensively -- then don't do this live. Have a short discussion about the types of changes that are needed (you may already have done this) then have someone do a draft of the changes (or divide different pages among different someones) and then just come together to discuss that draft. Again, have people review ahead of time.

If you're looking at little details of layout and photos and whatnot, you're probably better off with something like ZipBoard that will let you annotate on more fully rendered copies of the site.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:50 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you're not using one of the web templates from Toastmasters International and are open to doing so, I'd recommend it. When I set up a site for my old club, using FreeToastHost made it a lot simpler, since many of the links and info I'd have spent time compiling were already there. All I had to do was make sure we had the club-specific info, set up accounts for everyone so they were on the email lists and such, and we could post news and events in an easy blog format.

If your club isn't interested in using the templates, I'd still try to make sure your site covers all the stuff the template sites do; it might make an easy way to organize your club's input.
posted by asperity at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

As someone who manages a website with the aid of committee for a living:

(1) Do ask them to review the site before they arrive. Do not expect anyone to have done so. It may help if you also give them a guide to writing for the web before the meeting and to run down a quick checklist of that when it begins (far too many people who read every word on a website assume that everyone else does; in fact most people skim for headings and bullet points related to what they're looking for, then read only that portion that they think applies to them).

(2) Run the meeting with an iron hand. It's far too easy to get sidetracked into minutiae in the text that have zero bearing on the website. Also, don't rely on group consensus for every decision: someone who is more familiar with writing for the web should make the final decision, with advice from the others.

(3) Before you start reviewing the pages, come up with the purposes and functions of this website. Is it a publicly accessible archive of group activity? Is it a site to coordinate member activity and events? Is it a brochure for new members? For how long will you keep dated material (i.e. are meeting minutes from 2012 still relevant or can you toss them)? Also, list what information your parent organization requires you to have on the website. That will help you decide what to keep and what to archive offsite or discard, and how to organize the material you keep.
posted by telophase at 12:32 PM on September 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Seconding @asperity's advice of using templates available. I would start there and then fill in the needed content rather than (potentially laboriously) group editing the existing content. Usually when & where of meetings and a contact are all your site visitors are looking for. 30 pages seems...like a lot!

I wrangle web content for part of my day job, and also in my volunteer life. Especially for the volunteer committee projects (i.e., no real boss!) I have found it's best for sustainability to have simple template info anyone can update. Bonus points if the content is hosted by your parent organization for easy continuity of access/handover! Less is always more here.
posted by tamarack at 6:19 PM on September 9, 2019

@tamarack @asperity - yes, we use FreeToastHost's templates. I may have overstated the number of 30, probably closer to 20.
posted by storybored at 6:39 PM on September 9, 2019

telophase has it on starting with consensus on what your site is for. Without this agreement upfront any review will be quickly derailed by differing views/expectations around the scope of your content offer.

Each page should have a purpose for existing that supports your group (as opposed to individual) goals and a clear and feasible mechanism for updating/archiving or removing stuff that is no longer viable. Be ruthless!
posted by freya_lamb at 4:54 AM on September 10, 2019

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