Why an NDIS website is critical for your organisation
The National Disabilities Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is transforming the provision of disability services in Australia. As part of the shift towards government funding going directly to service users, organisations are required to become more focused on marketing to customers and potential customers. The resulting market shift means service organisations must now appeal directly to the individual.
Many organisations in the disability sector do not have extensive marketing capabilities, particularly in regards to the digital space. At the same time, consumers are becoming more and more empowered to look for and evaluate services online. The combination of these growing demands increases the importance for organisations to consider how their company will make the shift to sophisticated online marketing, what factors to consider when buying a website.
It is with this in mind that I recently discussed these issues with Daniel Kyriacou, National Corporate Communications Manager at National Disability Services, and created this follow up piece to share with CEOs, senior managers and decision makers looking to better understand the digital landscape and how to make decisions in what may be an unfamiliar area.
National Disability Services
“An organisation’s website should reflect and support its overall marketing plan. It should work with ease and be simple to navigate.”
The purpose of a good digital presence
A website is able to provide customers with 24/7 access to information about your products and services. This means a constant communication platform that does not pressure the customer in terms of sales, but allows them to look through information in a relaxed way, making decisions around choosing services at their own pace. From the organisation’s perspective, purchase decisions can be made – without using (or at least with less) staff time.
An organisation’s website should reflect and support its overall marketing plan. It should work with ease and be simple to navigate. Standard website functions should be provided, and work in a way that customers expect. To create an appropriate website, the first step is to understand your target market. Second, identify the different types of users that will use the site, and the journey that you would like them to take, then make that journey as simple and ideally as enjoyable as possible. A great user experience is key to the success of your website, and should be altered and adapted as services, consumers and preferences change over time.
NDS’s new website was recently built by Butterfly. The NDS site provides clear user journeys, with obvious information sections and pointers to allow customers to access information and services easily and efficiently. It is aesthetically striking, and accurately represents the aims, services and brand of the NDS.
An example of a campaign microsite is the ‘Every Australian Counts’ website. The site has a clear message, and is successful in providing the customer with easily accessible options, and a clearly guided journey through the microsite.
Web-terms that you may need to be familiar with
There are many terms in the world of web development. Some of the terms discussed during the interview are defined below.
Selecting a web development vendor
When choosing a provider for your website, ensure that you evaluate the following:
- Appropriate size for your organisation
- Proven experience in the disability or health services sector
- A good cultural fit
- A range of capabilities
- Ability to provide long term support
- Strong IT practices
- Good advice
- A sensible timeline
- Your budget
Find a web development agency that can appropriately accommodate for your needs. i.e. if you are a large service provider, a small agency may not have the scope or capabilities to support your needs. If you are a small or specialist service provider, you won’t need a top end agency that charges more than $200 per hour. If you are the agency’s largest client then you will get the most attention, but you may not get advice from experienced people. If you are the agency’s smallest client, you will struggle to get attention, constantly being at the bottom of the list. Aim for a good fit, where you will be looked after and given strong advice.
It is not mandatory to use a provider with experience in the disability sector, but it will make the process easier. Look for a strong client list with other clients that are similar to your organisation.
You have to work with a company that works like yours. If you are an informal and flexible company, you’ll need a web design agency that understands this, and works in a similar way. Likewise, if your organisation prefers formal processes you will be frustrated by a provider that flies by the seat of their pants.
It takes a team of digital experts to provide advice and build a good website. Seek a provider with a strong design team, development capabilities, project management, hosting and support. Look for a depth of talent so that your project won’t get affected if a staff member leaves, and so that small projects can be delivered without interrupting large projects.
Similarly, look for a provider that is set up to provide long term support. A dedicated helpdesk is ideal; they can help at any time and will support you through problems or changes. Some web developers like to move on to the next client as soon as they have the final payment on a website.
Websites exist at the intersection of marketing and technology. As such, it is important that your provider has very strong IT capabilities, especially around security, backups, code repositories, programming methodologies and containerised hosting. Unfortunately, a lot of clients only find weaknesses in their provider’s IT capabilities when things go wrong.
Look for a partner that can give you friendly on-going advice. The web world is constantly changing with new products, technologies, techniques and approaches. It is not important that your organisation is on the cutting edge – a lot of money is lost taking risks that don’t pay off. However, it is important that your organisation knows trends that are happening so that it can be aware of the right path to take, and the right time to take action.
Time is very important. You are better to take your time and get the right result than to rush for an ambitious timeline. Organisations in the disability sector often take longer than the wider corporate world due to slower internal decision making processes and staff being stretched across their normal job in addition to the web project. Be clear on how much time your staff can devote to the project, and streamline decision making. Design decisions by committee end up being bland, and it is rare that senior managers have as much experience in web as the marketing and IT teams.
The final consideration is how much you are going to spend. You will need to work out a realistic budget that allows you to create your website to achieve all of the above, and to continue changing the website if necessary. This will include all sections of the web build: design, development, WCAG, ongoing support, security, content writing, an internal resource section for your staff, disaster recovery, backups, and contingency funds (around 10%-20% of the project).
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