Paper & Pixels: Websites

Going online with public engagement.

graphics, communication, civic participation, community engagement, websites


Brittany Coyle


David Witham


Andrew Dobshinsky

A well-designed web site is
a major tool for achieving effective public engagement.

The tools used in public engagement are a key component to a plan’s success; they spread a plan’s message, vision, and goals, and help gain valuable feedback. More and more, websites—an effective way to reach a target audience, track feedback, and measure the progress of a plan—are becoming a preferred tool
of planners. With the emergence of easy to use, affordable options like Squarespace, building a website is no longer a daunting, costly task.

For a website to be effective as a Public Engagement tool, design and content must be a priority. Keeping the design of your site simple with a decisive color scheme, consistent font, and high-

quality photos will create a visually pleasing site that is easy
for your viewers to digest and navigate. Limit your main navigation to priority links such as: About the PlanNews,
Get Involved, and Contact. Visitors to the site will spend about one minute on each page so keep the content short. Highlight
the major aspects of each page with a clear heading, short paragraph and supporting visuals; long paragraphs create
visual clutter and will discourage readers.

If a full do-it-yourself approach isn’t what you’re looking for, select a web designer to create the site for you. The web designer can maintain the site for a fee or create your site
using a content management system (CMS). A CMS allows
more flexibility in the design of the site while still providing
you with a way of editing the content yourself. Regardless of
the option, a well-designed web site is a major tool for achieving effective public engagement.