Many non-profits cover up-to-the-minute issues with breaking news articles, press releases, advocacy campaigns, donation campaigns and the like. The problem that often arises is where to fit that kind of content into your existing web site architecture. Sometimes, the issue is too important to just include a new link in the “News” or “Press” section along with a feature call-out on the homepage. The issue may be one where you want to provide users with more ways to engage such as donating or taking action.
In these cases, most non-profits I’ve worked with turn to the trusty microsite. Now, I’m not writing off microsites completely, I’m just saying, “There’s a better way!” It’s called a scalable navigation – one that can grow with you as you need to communicate about new issues and ways to engage.
So, “How do I achieve a scalable navigation?” you may ask. You definitely want to consider what your users may be looking for along with your needs. For example, you shouldn’t just add a section to your navigation called “Campaigns” and expect users to think “Yeah, that’s exactly what I was looking for!”
Conservation International has a “home” for their latest and greatest content. They have the call-outs featured in the Flash section on the homepage, then, on their “Act” page, they provide links to ways users can get involved by “Supporting their campaigns”. This resonates with users much more because it leads them down a pathway where they can make a difference.
The International Rescue Committee has handled this with a “Crisis Watch” section under “News Photos and Videos” that is also accessible from the right column of the site. This section includes special reports on current crises including news and ways for users to help. Of course, depending on your organization, “Crisis Watch” may or may not be an applicable term, but the takeaway here is to create a place for this content with a name and a pathway that has meaning for your users.
One final thing to note about both sites is that content is only available for a few (3-5) of these high-priority issues. Limiting the number of issues available on the site provides a greater sense of urgency for users and will encourage them to get involved. This means devising a strategy of retiring this content after a time when it may not be urgent or timely any longer. Do you have any solutions for handling your latest and greatest content that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your comments if so.
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