Lessons from the ENRD
Development of the ENRD website as a key communication tool
The ENRD website was initially targeted at the core institutional members of the ENRD. The wider utility and potential range of users of the website was not considered in any detailed stakeholder mapping exercise or linked to any wider communications strategy. However, gradually, as the volume of information accumulated, the need to consider better ways to both
- document and communicate this information, and
- ensure its accessibility to a wider group of stakeholders, became apparent.
ENRD website user statistics, coupled with user feedback gathered over time, were therefore used to guide incremental adjustments to the website. In the third year of operation (2010-2011), a revamping of the site was undertaken to improve its overall look and feel, introduce more images, dynamic tools and multiple information access points to aid users. The site was also expanded to encompass six language versions (EN, FR, DE, IT, ES and PL).
By the end of the third year (2010-2011), these different developments had contributed to the website reaching in excess of 10,000 visitors per month – another important milestone.
However, the adjustments introduced did not sufficiently address certain underlying weaknesses in the original structure and design of the site, which continued to restrict expansion and inhibit navigation of the site, particularly by new visitors. Therefore, in the fourth year (2011-2012), it was decided that a more fundamental redesign was necessary. The new structure was deliberately designed to provide greater flexibility for future expansion, both of content and the introduction of new languages. As a result of these changes and innovations, user numbers have continued to rise, reaching a new milestone of 20,000 visitors per month in the fourth year of operation.
However, user retention numbers have been more variable over the same period. New milestone targets to improve retention have become an intrinsic part of current website and communications planning. These targets are aimed at the consolidation of content and quality enhancements of existing tools and service, thereby aiming to improve user experience and the overall impact of the website as the primary communications tool of the network.