EngagementHQ is so incredibly easy to use, you can literally set up and launch projects within minutes. At times I feel it is almost too easy…
Because the online component of a consultation is so quickly set up, it sometimes lacks planning and is merely an appendix of its real-life counterpart. Gladly many organisations are already changing and putting more emphasis on the planning and execution of online consultations and it usually just takes a few minutes to tell who is doing that already (Adelaide is one great case study) and who is not.
Just because projects can be set up instantly does not mean they have to. Time should be spent thinking about how a consultation can be best executed online, every time. A mind-numbing copy and paste job is never good enough and your community will be able to tell. EngagementHQ offers a range of tools that the real-life space simply does not. Exploring some of those tools will potentially provide you with a more detailed insight that you could not gather from traditional engagement. What if you even find that the online produces different results than offline?
As anywhere else in life, first impressions are crucial. We all form first impressions within seconds of visiting a new website. And that first impression is something that eventually translates into how you perceive the entire organisation. But just like in real-life, making a good first online impression is not that hard. Although you cannot make your online consultation be physically polite, smile and a have firm hand shake, you can make sure it looks neat and professional, doesn’t overwhelm with text and all its elements are working and easy to use. Set up a checklist for each project to make sure you do this every time.
Your job doesn’t end here though. Once your project is ready to go, log out, step away from the computer for a few minutes and come back as a ‘participant’. Put yourself (and an impartial colleague) in the shoes of a potential participant and imagine how they would perceive your site. Are you bored straight away with reading long text? Then surely your participants are too. Are you overwhelmed by that long list of 10MB+ PDFs? Then your participants are too. Are you exhausted just looking at the 25 mandatory questions in your survey? So are your participants! The 10 minutes you spend objectively reviewing your project are as important as the 10 minutes it took you to set up the project (here is me hoping it was a bit more…)
Remember, each project you set up might be the first overall impression a community member gets from your online engagement space. Make sure it is the best one it can be, every time. If your visitors have a positive experience from their first online engagement, they will return and bring their friends. If not, it will get even harder to encourage them next time.