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Laurelhurst Community Club – Competitive Analysis Part 2 26 May 2010

Posted by gjchatalas in Competitive Analysis.
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The Laurelhurst Community Club website is certainly useful and functional. But it really is missing opportunities to better engage and inform the community. While Laurelhurst is a highly-organized and influential community group, my initial take is that it is not using the website as effectively as it could.

The home page is a hodgepodge of information. There’s no real rhyme or reason as to its order or where things are placed. And this is where people first enter the LCC digital realm, where they expect information to be organized and easy-to-find. There is no list of pertinent categories. Along the side there is a menu bar, which is basically a list of the site’s pages, so that works for the most part even if it isn’t particularly extensive. And worth noting is that once you leave the home page, it isn’t easy to get back; some pages have a “return to home page” at the very bottom, but otherwise you have to go to the previous page(s) to get back home.

My first task was to get the latest information about what’s going on in the community. And the home page doesn’t offer it up too well. The top item announces a board meeting that occurred on May 10, but there’s no agenda or account from the meeting. Beneath that is an appeal to pay dues to support the LCC. And below that, in fairly small type, is a headline about the recent settlement with Children’s Hospital; this link takes you to a page that includes all the background of this issue. So once you’re there, there is loads of information. The settlement is from February, 2010, so it still is pertinent and worth being on the home page. But when it comes to getting the latest information, it requires a lot of searching around the site. I know this isn’t a blog, but it could at least have a better hierarchy upon landing on the home page.

I next sought to find out more about the LCC. The top link on the left-side menu bar says “Laurelhurst Community Club,” and upon clicking there I found a plethora of information: mission, bylaws, contact info, meeting minutes, goals, neighborhood plans, and more. And each of those links takes you into a page with greater detail. It is helpful information, but I think it could be better labeled on the home page so that the visitor knows the depth that lies behind that button.

Next, I wanted to see what kind of community events there might be. Pretty nice to see a button on the menu bar that says “Neighborhood Events.” When going to that page, however, it isn’t so helpful. First of all, the events are listed from oldest to upcoming, rather, so you have to scroll to the bottom of the page to see what events are coming up. There aren’t very good descriptions, and not all have dates. There are links, though, that can provide more information. Granted, keeping apprised of all the various events, and updating the site can be challenging. So possibly there’s a way to make it so that anybody who knows about an event can post it. Solving that issue, and listing the events in the correct order, would go a long way toward making the Events page worthwhile.

I also was curious about how to get involved. The front page has the Pay Dues option, and that works pretty smoothly. It’s a decent financial transaction page, and it also encourages community members to pay additional money for various other projects in the neighborhood. It could do a better job explaining what the dues cover; being transparent is pretty important for community groups, particularly ones like Laurelhurst which are regularly blasted as being wealthy nimbys.

I still wanted to get involved, though. And it’s difficult. There’s nothing appealing to prospective volunteers, or even easy-to-find contact information. I eventually went to the LCC button mentioned above, then to the board members, and from there I can e-mail somebody on the board about how I could be involved. Pretty weak… this should be on the home page.

Where the LCC site succeeds is in the remarkable depth of organizational information. The Issues and Interests page lists many of the areas that the LCC has been involved, and going into those pages yields background on an issue, and a history of LCC related. It still would be better for a visitor to see a list of issues on the home page, but it works well enough as is.

This exercise has helped me to discern how to make the RBCA site better. By identifying what does and doesn’t work so well on this site, I can incorporate improvements in our community group’s online efforts.

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