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In May, we mentioned Hugh’s involvement with the sil.org development team.

Last week he had one meeting to discuss how to define the job. It would take business goals, business processes and translate them to web activity (User-Experience Design). The idea is being framed as an internal user experience consultant to various department heads as they consider their web presence. In today’s internet-world, opinions (about people, organizations and events) are made based on how a website behaves or makes the user feel, including what that user can and cannot do on a given website. This impacts SIL’s ability to serve the minority language peoples of the world.

Often the expectation of users/visitors is that a website is a place where someone can interact with an organization. For example: We see many church websites have bios about their staff, a place to donate to the church, some sort of statement about what they believe and their affiliations, and also often a place to download sermons. But how does the organization want to interact with the user? Is the communication a one way street or is the goal of the website to be interactive and bring the user to a point of decision about some issue?

As Hugh steps into this new role, these are some of the challenges he will be facing. Please pray along with us over these issues.

  • It is not clear who owns the user experience. – Which department is responsible for making the website work well?
  • Every department already has their area of focus. – How can the whole of SIL and the whole SIL website offer a user a more unified experience when moving from the content provided by one department to the next?
  • SIL has a history of web presence that is important to each part of the organization. – How can we use this web development process to help our members see the benefits, purpose and scope of the website? Historically, a separate web page meant legitimacy and recognition. We need to bring people together to see that one website that acknowledges each piece of our work will help us to better interact with our website users and eventually reach a broader audience.
  • We need a clear engagement strategy. – An engagement strategy is a purposeful plan explaining how to involve people in corporate goals and explains the desired direction of involvement with those encountered. This kind of plan would allow us to bring our website into line with our day to day activities so that those we encounter might have an uninterrupted experience both on the web and in person.

For a website to be successful it needs to have its function serve its goals. Having everything look the same is not the same as a website functioning well for its users, or for it functioning well to accomplish the communicative goals between site visitors and site creators.

In the coming weeks, we hope for more clarity to Hugh’s involvement with the web design team. He has several meetings lined up with his new supervisor to define the scope of his role. Pray for smooth transition into this new position and good communication with new supervisors.

Image of One Way Street sign from Wikipedia.