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Ravenna-Bryant Community Association – Draft Competitive Analysis 4 May 2010

Posted by gjchatalas in Competitive Analysis.

Seattle is a city of neighborhoods. And most of these communities have organizations that represent them. Recognized by the City of Seattle, these semi-official entities don’t necessarily have competition per se, since each neighborhood has its very own group representing it.

Still, a community organization’s website needs to be a resource, providing information and news, as well as promoting involvement and conveying the mission of the organization. Examining what other community-related websites are doing will help in assessing the best practices and approach for the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association’s (RBCA) site.

Typically the audience of a community website are those who live within that neighborhood. But there is a larger audience, including those throughout the city who follow local matters, and those at City Hall, which ideally is interested in catering to our citizens.

Here are some sites that can help provide a framework for what may or may not be a quality community website.

Laurelhurst Community Club
Laurelhurst is one of the most organized organizations in the city. Its website is decent, although not very attractive. It features the basics, all of which need to be embraced by the RBCA site: About, Issues, Events, Local Businesses, Advertise, Pay Dues. It is clearly Laurelhurst-centric, but it is nonetheless effective in its goal of serving this community.

Wedgwood Community Council
Another well-organized community group in northeast Seattle. Again, an ugly yet utilitarian site, offering the same basics as Laurelhurst.

Both these site offer general information about their communities and neighborhood happenings. But they don’t step outside their geographic boundaries to offer much more. I think by offering more news, including aggregation and blog entries by community members, a community website will have more value.

Next Door Media
This company is at the front end of creating neighborhood-centric blogs. And while its essence is as a news site, it hits at the heart of community, and may well be a model for a community website. Its initial focus was on Ballard, Phinney and other neighborhoods west of I-5. Recently it has added Maple Leaf and View Ridge/Wedgwood, classic Northeast Seattle neighborhoods, to its mix, demonstrating growing ambitions. This network has attractive and well-organized sites and clear vision of the power of hyperlocal, including being mentioned in reports about the future of news by the NY Times and Columbia Journalism Review.

Neighborhood Blogs
There are a few trying to make a go of it, but they are either sporadically updated, lacking depth of content, or amateurish.

NortheastSeattleMoms e-mail list
Mothers are a crucial component of community involvement, and this e-mail listserv has them riveted. It’s full of announcements, reviews and classifieds. But it doesn’t cover news and events in this limited forum.

Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle
The city, admirably, is dedicated to its neighborhoods. Our Department of Neighborhoods is considered a national model for engaging and involving citizens. That said, the website suffers from being overly bureaucratic; government sites are normally disjointed and hard to navigate. This site offers plenty of worthwhile information, but it’s just too difficult to find. A good community site will find ways to incorporate and link to the valuable elements of the city’s neighborhood site.



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