Three reasons why every organization should have a Web site
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Too many organizations operate on the assumption that they should be like comfy little restaurants that you stumble across, fall in love with, get to know the regulars, and hope no one else discovers them because that would ruin the ambiance.
Your organization should be all about standing out where it can be seen. Some of the people who might come to your organization will only look online. That’s a good enough reason for having a Web site right there. And to the “expert” who says, “Oh no, no one around here would do that,” the correct response is, “By not making your organization available online, you’ve already guaranteed that no one will.” Online access and broadband access are both increasing at a rate that itself indicates that someone you want to reach is looking for you online.
Not only that, but these are visitors who have already set out to find your organization in one way or another. They’re not just passing by; they aren’t getting up to go to the bathroom while your expensive cable-access commercial is on TV. They came looking for you. So by taking the simple step of putting a Web site on an ISP somewhere, with directions, services offered, hours, and a non-repellent design, an organization will significantly increase the likelihood of being available to a would-be visitor when that visitor comes looking.
Part of the value of a Web page is its constituting a public self-definition of the organization: “This is who we are, and this is what we stand for.” That definition serves not only to invite visitors, but also to help the organization recognize its own reflection in the mirror of the culture. Of course, that works better if the self-identification is clear and honest, which can’t be said of every Web site.
The attention that an effective Web site requires grows from, develops, nourishes, articulates, and extends the very energies that contribute to a vital organizational being. A Web site should be all about communication — quite public communication. A good site helps an organization with an overview of what’s going on. It provides visitors with a sense of what kinds of people and interests they’re likely to meet.
I haven’t used the words “rural” or “Appalachian” yet, but I think all these reasons apply to rural and/or Appalachian organizations at least as much as (if not more than) suburban or urban organizations. The need for deliberate information spreading increases as rapidly as the likelihood that you’ll spontaneously bump into a potential client on the street decreases.