What does your project communication plan say about external communication? Is one Web page on your company’s site enough? Perhaps you should consider investing a bit in a project website.
Isn’t a Facebook page enough?
In today’s social-media-saturated world, it is easy to imagine that a Facebook page or a Twitter feed would easily satisfy the need to share information about a project with the public and the media. There are a couple of reasons that might not be the case.
Not everybody uses social media or the media that we’ve chosen. For example, Facebook penetration in the United States is now at 52.56 percent, in the UK, 51.61 percent, and in Germany, 30.64 percent (source: http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/). Furthermore, when you do not own your site, you are subjected to the one-sided rules and regulations of the social media platform provider. Sometimes you can, inadvertently, be excluded from the service for a period of time, if not for good.
Why use a project website?
You can have a website throughout the life cycle of a construction or development project. Here are some ideas on how to use a project website before and during a project:
- Promote an idea or concept to get people interested in funding, preordering, or subscribing to receive additional information as the project proceeds
- Inform the media about your upcoming project
- Obtain buy-in from the people living or working in the project’s neighborhood
- Market homes, offices, store space, warehouses, and so on
- Let buyers configure their home or office and calculate the price online
- Show how the construction is taking place, in real time
- Inform the stakeholders about meetings, reviews, inspections, and the overall status of the project
- Guide tenants on timetables and other issues related to moving in
How to build the website
If you are only doing a one-off site, you can have it done by a service provider. However, if you have a recurring need to build and update sites, you should consider managing them in house. The problem with outsourcing the maintenance is that any additions and changes you will need to do take time and may even be quite costly.
There are services that allow you to build and maintain a website easily. We have used WordPress, the popular blogging platform, for project sites, and it has worked well. There is a plethora of resources and services available for WordPress users. If you want to include some special features on your site, it is no problem to find contractors that provide them at a reasonable price. If your existing content management system is flexible enough, you can of course use it instead of WordPress.
A project website should interact with social media services, even if it is not dependent on them. This way, you’ll extend your audience and attract publicity.
Who should be involved?
A project website is one of your company’s or your client’s communication channels. Whether must follow company guidelines depends on the specific case. Sometimes a project website can be unique and differ radically from the established format. I suggest to talk to the persons who are in charge of communications when you’re planning the site.
A project involves many stakeholders. Use the resources of others in creating the content and keeping it alive. If the participants are also helping to finance the site, they will be interested in making the most of it.