Seven Steps to an Effective Chapter Web Site
Attracting and retaining Student Program members is crucial to NEA's mission for advancing the education profession. NEA members who join as college students are more likely to remain active, committed members throughout their careers.
Today's college students are technology savvy and turn to the Internet first for information. States with a strong Internet presence for their Student Programs are well positioned to attract new members.
State affiliate Web sites that are most effective in promoting their Student Program contain:
- A prominent link to the Student Program in the main navigation
- An overview of the Student Program (what it is)
- Benefits of membership (why join, and what you get)
- A way to join immediately (join now!)
- State contact information
- Local chapters and contacts
- Calendar of events (state and local)
- Job listings and/or a resume bank
1. Use clean design and clear navigation.
You don't have to be a professional web designer to create an attractive Web site. There are many tools and templates available that you can easily customize for your chapter. Microsoft Word and Microsoft FrontPage both come with Web templates and wizards. In addition many Internet service and Web site hosting providers offer Web page creation tools and wizards. The most important things to remember are:
- Use a light background and dark text color for easy readability.
- Use clear, consistent navigation on every page.
- Stay away from frames.
2. Focus on providing useful information, not bells and whistles.
Before you begin, decide who your audience is and what message you want to convey. Most likely, your audience will be prospective and current members but may also be members of the campus community and general public.
Be sure to include essential information, such as the name of your chapter, location/university, membership benefits and how to join, contact information (including e-mail), and your relationship to NEA and your state association. You may also want to include officers' names and bios, guest speakers' names and bios, and descriptions of ongoing programs.
Avoid using acronyms and jargon that only current members would understand, and make sure you double check for spelling, grammar, and bad links.
3. Keep it fresh.
Try to update your Web site at least once a month. New information may include upcoming meetings, highlights of past meetings, community outreach activities, recent award or scholarship winners, newly elected officers, member of the month, education statistics, etc.
4. Assign accountability.
For consistency, it's a good idea to make one person or committee responsible for maintaining the chapter's Web site. You may wish to make the Web site part of one officer's duties. The Web site is a form of official public communication, so be sure to establish procedures for approving new content before it is posted. Also, outgoing webmasters or Web committee members should make sure their replacements have password access to all Web hosting accounts, e-mail list management, and HTML templates.
5. Connect the dots.
Ask your university, State Association and the NEA Student Program to link to your site—and link back to them as well.
6. A photo is worth a thousand words.
"Action" photos showing members doing community service, a guest speaker giving a lecture, or a student teacher leading a class will have much more impact than photos of chapter members posing in front of the campus student center. Add a caption telling who's in the photo and what they're doing. Just make sure the photos load quickly for users with slower Internet connections.
7. Do your homework!
Before you begin, check out what other Student Program chapters are doing online, and take a look at the Web sites of other organizations on your campus.