Avoid Web Site Stagnation
As a result, many organizations are revisiting the Web sites they originally built and realizing it’s time for a serious upgrade. But because the Internet is still a relatively new medium, many struggle to know how and when to upgrade, and how to budget for their online future.
Which leads me to the Web site I’ve been asked to review for this month’s column: www.peckham.org, the Internet home of Lansing, Mich.-based organization Peckham, which offers job opportunities and training to people with disabilities. Peckham uses its Web site to market both its business operations (manufacturing, distribution, logistics, etc.) and its human services.
I suspect that when Peckham built this site back in the day, it learned a few lessons from its for-profit counterparts. The site utilizes a few tried-and-true Web design techniques: using colors to define unique areas of the site; having a search, phone and e-mail option on every page (often called “persistent navigation”); rotating photos often enough to be interesting but not distracting; offering visitors graphical and text-only versions; and having a clear call to action with the relevant contact in every area. The organization has one a great job weaving its mission statement throughout the site (I read it on about four separate pages the first time visited the site — which I think is terrific), and donors can give via a secure feature online.
At the same time, this site suffers from a series of decisions that make me suspect it was either a “loving hands at home” project (i.e., built by a volunteer, not a pro), or created at the dawn of the Internet and not yet updated to reflect current best practices. Specifically, it uses a splash page (those introductory pages you used to see before you got to a site’s home page), and its design emulates a more corporate style — integrating imagery such as globes and buzz words as key visuals. Google searches using terms that should yield good results, such as “Lansing Michigan call
center” reveal low or no rankings, which suggests that search engines are picking up copy in the site but are having a hard time identifying what Peckham’s keywords are.