Agency Website

 

An agency web site is one of the most important communication tools available – it is affordable, 

easily updatable and available to all publics at all times. By using the tool properly, an agency 

can run more efficiently by eliminating many simple information- seeking phone calls.

 

The size and intricacy of a web site is determined by the size and capabilities of an agency. 

Minimally, it is suggested that a web site contain basic information, such as contacts and 

services. A smaller agency may not have a dedicated webmaster and this role may be filled by 

someone capable of making basic updates. The web site needs to be planned accordingly, using 

software a non- designer/developer will be able to easily use, such as a Content Management System. 

It is important that Communications be involved in, if not responsible for, the content of the 

agency web site.

 

Updating the web site is essential – outdated information will be useless and can be damaging to an 

agency. An assigned person can make regularly scheduled reviews of the site and contact subject 

matter experts to assist with updates as needed.

 

Importantly, an agency’s web site should include a disclaimer noting that child abuse reports will 

not be accepted through a site via email. An agency may want to consult its law department to 

ensure the disclaimer’s wording properly conveys this message so as to protect an agency if an 

allegation is improperly made through the site. This message should include the agency’s child 

abuse reporting hotline.

 

When creating a web site it is essential to consider the following:

Staff

  • Subject matter experts to help create content
  • Webmaster (or dedicated staff member) to create and update web site

Hosting

  • In-house (in cooperation with information technology/computer department)
  • Hosting service (there are many services available locally and web-based, ranging from basic hosting to full design)

Domain Name

  • Should be simple, easy to remember, relate to agency Availability Issues of domain name

Audience

  • A web site for a public child welfare agency will serve various audiences: youth and families served; general public; media; foster and adoptive parents; policy makers; staff; contracted providers; allied professionals
  • Some sections may specifically address one audience, such as a section for contracted providers with forms and manuals, or a section for youth.

Software

  • Web design software
  • Content Management System (CMS): a system that allows a non-designer/developer to make updates

Web Site Planning and Development

The first step in developing a web site is good planning. Subject matter experts, youth and 

families served, staff and contracted providers should be consulted in this step and every 

subsequent construction step. This can be achieved through online and/or email surveys, focus groups and interviews. Surveying key audiences allows the agency to determine the needs to be fulfilled by the web site. Periodically consulting the same audiences afterwards helps to keep the site relevant. This will ultimately ensure the web site is complete and well used.

 

Web Site Organization

Web site organization is essential to a useful and therefore successful, web site. The size of the 

agency and services offered will determine how a site is organized.

 

General rules for web site organization are:

  • Keep it simple
  • Group similar items together
  • Forgo fancy web enhancements for a simple, clean, easy-to-use design Keep the number of 
  • navigational “clicks” to a minimum
  • Web site organization chart for public child welfare agencies

Web Site Design

Incorporate the agency’s branding design into the web site by using identical colors and fonts and 

the agency logo. Many hosting companies will offer templates, allowing an agency to choose its own 

color scheme and logo while using a basic standardized layout. Others will offer full design 

services. A graphic design company can be used (and is suggested) for a professional customized web 

site.

 

Important  considerations include:

  • Accessibility
  • Web site style guide 
  • Branding elements 
  • Ease of updating 
  • Budget 
  • Needs
  • Webmaster position 
  • Basic web style guide

Web Site Content

Content should initially be written by subject matter experts with editing by Communications. It is 

important to know the needs and habits of web site users. In general, web site users quickly scan. 

Web sites should reflect this practice and be written accordingly, using bullets more often than 

long paragraphs, whenever possible. Consistency is important, especially if several Subject Matter

Experts will contribute. The information should be presented in a uniform way with a consistent 

agency “voice”.








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