I’m sure we've all heard the term "brochure website" before. For a while, it was used as a legitimate way to label certain types of websites and was accepted as a normal way to do business. Organizations would simply take their brochures, turn them into static websites that regurgitated brochure content, and called it a day. We all thought this was ok.
Then, we evolved beyond this and realized that websites were more than just a digital brochure. We started to add things like fresh content, Flash promos, and changing photos. This let our audience know that things were happening and that whenever new content was available, we would publish it in real time on the web. This was a good next step.
Today, the modern corporate or non-profit website is much more. It must truly be an information hub. Though some organizations still don’t understand this, we are way beyond the brochure website. We are also evolving beyond the "changing content" websites that followed. We are now in an era in which our constituents demand extensive access to online tools and information that creates a two-way dialog. Your constituents expect to be able to engage with your website to actually do things that help them get their work done and be productive. Things like:
- Register and pay online for events in 2 minutes or less
- Download your latest product documentation
- Ask a question and get an answer
- Find a real person with a name and title to start a conversation with
- Subscribe to an email newsletter that teaches something (not just promotes)
- Comment on your blog
- Subscribe to your Podcast
- Share your educational content with their social networks
- Make an online donation to your non-profit in 2 minutes or less using a credit card
- Fill out your volunteer application form online (not on paper or in a Word document)
Whether you like it or not, your prospective customers (or donors, or volunteers) are making snap judgments about your organization as they research you and your competition online. Having a beautiful website is the absolute bare minimum to be taken seriously. Having an information hub makes you a competitor.