Objectives and Planning
Before a site project is launched, it is essential to thoroughly verify whether the plan is mature. This concerns mainly the content of the site and the human as well as financial resources. The plans must be made known to and approved by the hierarchy.
A number of elements must be established, to make sure that the site is developed in a consistent way and that it is well integrated in the existing set of Commission sites. For the successful creation and exploitation of a site, there must be well-formulated goals in the context of the overall Information & Communication strategy, knowledge of the preferences and behaviour of the target audiences, understanding of the media, and a sustainable method for regularly updating the site’s contents and operating its services.
Five basic questions must be answered:
Why? Who? What? How? When?
1. Why? - Type, purpose and mission
A site is created to answer the needs of its future users/readers. Knowing their expectations and needs provides for the foundations of your project. On that basis, you should set the overall goal or the mission of the site and relate it to the relevant EU‑policies and activities. At that stage, it is important to verify if the needs are maybe already covered by other sites and to possibly re-orient the project towards the improvement of the existing site. This may require close consultation with other internet editors and possibly the creation of a joint editorial board.
If it is clear that a new site is needed, decsions must be taken about the main message or messages that you want to get across by means of the site. This will determine the orientation and the type of site that you want to create.
2. Who? - Target audience
A site can be used to address many audiences, from the general public, to the interested stakeholders or specialists.
Identify the category of users you want to reach. Try to define the goals for each type of user. Several different categories of users may be chosen, provided that the content is organised accordingly. Moreover, each particular audience must be able to see clearly from the outset where to go for the desired kind of information. Be aware that the wider the audience, the more need there will be for the rewriting of existing ‘bureaucratic’ texts and for additional languages. Please see the chapter on Editorial style and policy.
There are statistics available on information needs of citizens and enterprises from several different DGs and sectors. EURES network with the EuroAdviser network and EUROPE DIRECT could provide you these kinds of statistics as well.
Several methods exist for identifying your target audience.
3. What? - Subject
You must now decide on the main themes and the sub-themes (sections and subsections) of your site. For more details on this task, please see the chapter on Content.
To make sure that the subject is appropriately covered, you may gather information by a number of means:
- thorough analysis of current information related to your theme(s) already available or dispersed through EUROPA sites, resulting in a content mapping
- internal survey among the current publishers in all DGs
- external survey among information specialists
The EUROPA team, who has a fairly good overview on the information available on EUROPA, can be of help during this stage.
4. How & When? - Calendar and work plan
You should set up a clear action plan for creating and maintaining the site. Make sure that the action plan is in proportion to the human and financial resources you have at your disposal, and that you and the other content providers have the same level of commitment to your end-users. The action plan should cover all the phases of the creation of a site (strategy, content/services identification, design/presentation, choice of technology, content creation and/or migration, launching, etc). Any aims for further development of the site should be mentioned in this plan as well.
The basic steps in the creation and management of your site:
- approval by hierarchy
- definition of key messages
- analysis of audience and their expectations
- Definition of risks
- task definition and timing (identification of the content, inventory of the existing content and new content, content supply, proposals for navigation and content projects, services and tools devices, testing stages, post-launch monitoring, etc.)
- site conception: workflow, content, design, navigation and multilingualism
- technical decisions: which technology, what tools to use
- planning of resources - decision on whether or not to use outsourcing (e.g. through the Publications Office for tasks like planning, re-purposing of content, implementation and proofreading). Please see the example of resources needed for the creation of a small site.
- development and/or adaptation of technical platform
- testing and launching
- training of staff