Back from the SUM Residential and I’ve started writing up my sessions for the new SUM site but I thought it made sense to stick them up here:
Using your website as a tool to rationalise your organisation by focusing on the user (or: People are stupid)
What is a Students’ Union?
Or more importantly what is your Students’ Union? Your members? Your constitution? In the most succinct terms your Union is probably best described as one of those two, but if I asked you to show me your Union in all likelihood you would show me your Union building. Although they both exist physically neither your members as a group nor your constitution really work as something tangible you can think of when considering your Union so in most cases your Union building becomes a tangible anchor for your organisation.
If everything you offered took place in your building then this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem but a lot of what you do as a Union isn’t tied to your building, and this can become a problem when your members may not see themselves as involved with your Union because the activity isn’t taking place with your walls. There’s also the (slightly worrying) fact that quite a lot of your students will never visit your building.
Going back to the original question, “What is a/your Union?” The answer of course is many things, Advice and Welfare Services, Sports clubs, Societies, Staff-Student Liaison Committees, Campaigns, Bars, Clubs, Restaurants, Cafés, Volunteering, Jobs, the list goes on. And the one place they all come together is your website. While a football match no more takes place on your website than it does in your Union your Football Club will (or should) have a presence on your website. As the place where all these disparate arms of your organisation converge your website is the perfect place to rationalise your organisation and better explain what it is you actually do.
This may sound obvious – it should sound obvious – but that doesn’t stop it from not actually being the case. Often more time is spent thinking about a poster for the back of a toilet door than is spent on writing an article for your website. Your website is your most visible asset and it should be the anchor for your organisation.