Before you can start your online engagement activities it is essential that you design your online engagement strategy.
This means thinking about how you want your community to be involved, understanding the extent to which you will allow them to influence your project as well as outlining your project timeframe.
You will also need to consider if you are creating an entire site for a single online consultation or whether you are establishing a consultation hub, where you will consult on a rage of different topics.
Below are five questions you need to answer before you begin:
- What are the goals or my project? – Outlining your project goals is an essential first step. If you have a broad challenge or issue, write it down. Make a list of all the outcomes you would hope to see. Write them down as questions using “How might we...” to frame your questions. These questions should be used as a guide for your project to help you understand what you want to achieve.
- What does success look like? – How will you know if your project is successful? Is it purely based on the outcomes of your consultation or are there benchmarks for involvement, awareness and engagement. Make some decisions about this before you begin so you have a starting point.
- What is the purpose of your engagement? – There are many devices for mapping out the purpose of your engagement. A good way to do this is to use is the Engagement Triangle (http://capire.com.au/#publications-section) from Capire Consulting. This will help guide your content and strategy development, as you will have a clearer picture of what you are trying to achieve.
- Who is my audience? – You will need to know who your audience is before you begin. You might need to directly target a key group of stakeholders or sample your population for a variety of views. Have you organised you databases and do you know the demographics of your community?
- What is your consultation timeline? – Are you about to launch an ongoing consultation space or a special project? Knowing your project timeline will guide your content and strategy.
Once you have answered these questions you should start to think about the architecture of your website and how you are going to navigate people through your information and to get involved in your consultations.