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Website Plans: Strategy

Website Plans
  • Overview – The starting point for documentation about our plans for the website.

    • Introduction
    • Terminology
    • Document structure
  • Strategy – Details of our strategy for developing the website.

    • Evolution over revolution
    • IT and joined-up data
  • Your input We want your help. This is your website; we value your ideas and feedback.

    • What are we looking for?
    • How to send us your ideas.
  • Schedule – When things are going to happen. Time scales, as far as we are able to estimate them.

  • Participation – A website where you get to take part, rather than passively absorb information, will be more fun and productive. We have plans to make this happen.

    • Communication
    • Members-only areas
    • Interaction
    • Contribution
  • Facilities – Plans for the website in terms of functionality, useful tools and other applications.

    • Social media integration
    • Directory of writing groups
    • On-line competitions
    • Link magazine
  • Features – Plans for the behavioural and technical aspects of the site.

    • Privacy & security
    • People database
    • Articles & editing

      • Temporal content
      • Markdown for content
      • Automatic TOC generation
    • PayPal integration
  • Content – Plans for what articles, pages and other information to have on the site. Examples: news, information, events, competitions, products and services.

    • Material

      • Revamp "who is NAWG?" area
    • Organisation
  • Presentation – Plans for improvements and additions to the way the site appears, e.g. its layout, styling and navigation.

    • Layout
    • Style
    • Navigation
  • Management – Plans to improve the operational aspects of the site, i.e. the way it's run and maintained, and the way we respond to communications.

    • Operations & procedures
    • Who does what?

Some of the above titles are hyperlinks.

Click for more detailed documentation.

More will become links as things evolve.

The main components of our strategy are:

#### Evolution over Revolution

It's sometimes tempting to make radical changes to a website, especially when new technologies arrive or new techniques are developed. We're all in favour of new things, but we don't believe in pulling the rug from under our users' feet.

Instead, we've adopted an evolutionary approach to making changes to the site. This has several advantages.

  + Improvements are planned, prioritised, staged and tested before deployment.
    Changes are flexible and reversible.
  + Feedback can be obtained along the way.
  + Users' expectations are better managed, though planning and notification.
  + Smaller, incremental changes are less disruptive.

Of course, there are some disadvantages as well.

  - Changes require more overall time to implement.
  - New features are less well-defined up front, as are their delivery time scales.

#### Information Technology and Joined-up Data

From what the author (KM) can tell, NAWG has traditionally been organised using paper-based techniques. This has worked, but things could be made easier and more efficient using IT.

We can leverage more than just e-mail, since we have powerful database, storage and web technologies at our fingertips, at no extra cost.

The "paperless office" is still probably a pipe dream, but we can move towards a more "electronic" age. This applies to both our internal procedures and to our customer facing interactions. For example, a completely automated, on-line membership/renewal facility might be possible.

So what is *joined-up data*?

It's basically a general idea for centralising a lot of our information, so that any particular operation or service that NAWG provides is done using a single source for its data.

A good example of this is in the area of the competitions that are organised by NAWG. At present, information about our competitions is available:

  - In Link magazine.
  - On the website.
  - In the e-newsletter.
  - Advertised in writing magazines and other publications.

The way things currently stand, each of the above requires information to be managed using different techniques, file formats, and software. During production, information is passed between the staff members using e-mails with attachments, or even paper and post.

It works, but can be prone to errors, both human and technological. Wouldn't it be great if all competition information was stored (and edited and corrected) centrally. Then, say, print-ready material for a competition advert, could be semi-automatically derived from the central repository.

That's just one example. There are many more areas that could benefit from a *joined-up data* strategy.
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Author: Kevin Machin Date: September 29, 2015 12:02 pm
Categories: Website Tags: plans
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