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The Internet and Project Management

The Internet and websites can be used by development organisations to improve and deepen contact with the target groups, increase their transparency, and be accountable. In preparing a home page, it is crucial to know and respect the characteristics of the potential users.

We normally consider that the function of a website is to inform the general public about our work and sometimes we add a series of links. Feedback from those who visit our home page is very infrequent and the language used in our website sounds more like the internal project documents (with its "superior goal," "project goal", "target group," and "expected results") than a modern, living and dynamic medium.

The following questions must be answered before a website can be designed: ¿What are the objectives of my home page? What groups of people is it intended for? How are these people broken down in the Internet (their degree of expertise)? How do I translate the objectives and expectations of my users into graphic, technical, and text form? How can I judge the success of my website in achieving its aims?

The objectives of the website of an agency for co-operation, an institution for promotion, or a project should be to:

  • Keep the public up-to-date regarding the organisation's objectives, results, and activities (principle of transparency)

  • Improve the contacts between the target groups (the users) and the organisation (by providing timely information about planned activities and criteria for participation; offering on-line registration for events and activities; and suggesting future activities)

  • Increase the organisation's efficiency and effectiveness, broaden its sphere of operation, and focus more on the needs of the target groups (for example: use less paper - answer through the Internet; make reports and studies available in the Internet - not on shelves that collect dust; and accompany activities by offering in-depth information and/or statistical data in the Internet)

  • The organisation should be accountable to its "customers" and document in its home page the opinions of the target groups, both positive and negative, with regard to the organisation's activities and the results obtained.

We are aware that the Internet has the potential of not only being an excellent management tool, but also of showing how a tax-funded organisation can be transparent and accountable to its own "customers."

Website contents, structure, and design should be tailored to the user's profile. Who is the user? In most cases, small and medium-sized enterprises do not have personnel of their own who are dedicated to aspects of information technology; the owner personally handles almost all of the management tasks, including those of department heads. Their knowledge of the Internet is minimum and they have no time to search the Internet. In other words, our home page should be simple and well-organised, with a graphic design that allows users to move around rapidly and with two or three clicks of their mouse to find what they are looking for.

You may visit the ALA/93/57 (Peru) Project website, which was designed using the principles set out above. You can also read: the Conception of the ALA/93/57 Project website, and the Users' Evaluation and Interviews.

Copyright © 2012 Heiko Windolph, Berlin
Last update: June 2012