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Websites

A campaign website presents the campaign on the internet. Such websites can dramatically enlarge the audience and serve as a vehicle to make campaign materials available at little cost.

An effective website is the central clearinghouse for all electronic campaign tools: it advertises the message and campaign events, offers background information (e.g. research reports, documentary videos and links to other relevant websites), as well as precise advice for action (e.g. policy briefs, action alerts, etc). It can include tools for activists and campaign supporters, e.g. posters for print-out, or special mobile telephone ringtones, and offer a space for the audience to share their thoughts. Links to social media such as Twitter and Facebook relay the website and its messages to viewers’ networks. One can also use the campaign website to raise money – there are numerous types of available software that can direct users to a secure site where they can make contributions via credit card or Paypal (a secure internet payment system that is widely used all over the world).

Bear in mind:

-        Your website is likely to become a centerpiece of your campaign communications. Take time to craft it carefully and pre-test it with members of the target audiences.

-        Websites need to be frequently updated with accurate, attractive information. If your site includes interactive functions, such as a chat room or comments stream, you need a moderator who monitors new contributions every day, so that anything inappropriate (e.g. offending messages or unwanted commercial advertisements) can be removed swiftly and urgent queries responded to.

-        Websites work best when combined with other media tools, e.g. e-mail updates that announce new content and invite your audience to visit the website. You can encourage users to subscribe to an e-mail messaging service, or to an RSS feed that relays news from your website to the subscribers’ site. An RSS feed allows a reader to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place. RSS feeds can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader", or "aggregator", which readers have to sign up for. There are many free RSS readers available online. 

-        Many providers offer “free” website hosting and easy guidance on setting up your site or blog. Check carefully whether

-        that means that your site may contain advertisements with content that you cannot control. It is not uncommon to see low-budget websites on women’s violence polluted by highly inappropriate and counterproductive advertisements.

-        Take into account the targeted users’ connection speed: if your target audiences are likely to have slow connections, avoid using large pictures and animations on the main pages of your website. Break up large downloadable documents (e.g. PDF files of your campaign reports) into several files with clear titles so that users can go directly to the chapter they wish to download.

Examples:

  • The That’s Not Cool campaign (USA) to prevent teenage dating abuse uses interactive videos to approach a teenage audience.
  • The global White Ribbon campaign targeted at men offers a rich, comprehensive website.
  • The Take Back the Tech! campaign website focuses on new media in campaigning, offering tools and opportunities for exchange.

Case Study: Bursting the Bubble Campaign

 The Bursting the Bubble campaign, launched in 2003, is an initiative of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (Australia), a government-funded service for people affected by domestic violence. The campaign uses the internet to reach teenagers who have witnessed physical domestic violence against their mother or stepmother, or who have experienced direct physical, emotional or sexual abuse by a parent or care-giver. The colorful campaign site is designed to “help you to work out what’s okay in a family and what’s not”, and offers guidance as to how teenagers can protect themselves and where they can seek help.

Results: 

75% of respondents to an online survey stated they knew ‘a lot’ or a fair amount about support services after visiting the website (65% said they knew only a little or nothing about services beforehand). Every month, over 250 website users participate in the online quiz to identify whether violence occurs in their families. Of those, approximately 84% obtain a quiz result that indicates they do witness domestic violence between parents, and 42% are likely to be directly abused by a parent or caregiver. 72% of young people surveyed intend to use the information to act on violence happening to them or someone else in their homes, and 15% plan to use the ideas about abuse happening to a friend.

- Focus group discussions showed that teenagers found the website user-friendly, engaging and helpful. Campaign materials were also used by teachers in health education classes in schools. In 2005, the campaign won the Australian Violence Prevention Award and the website evaluation was awarded the Australasian Evaluation Society Community Development Award.

Read the evaluation report: Young people’s views: Learnings from burstingthebubble.com

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