Plan? What Plan?

One thing that surprises me when is that, when I’m asked to create a Website, there is no communication plan.

What’s a Communication Plan?

This seems obvious; so obvious that the need for a plan seemingly disappears in the fog of implementations and tools used to support a plan that does not exist.

An organization or an individual who provides services or products needs to communicate something to others. Those “others” include:

  • Customers or Users
  • Public relations staff
  • Fulfillment staff
  • Development or design staff
  • Administrative staff
  • Managers
  • Executives
  • Investors

Each member of each audience has different information needs that the organization to meet. Additionally, some information needs to be protected and preserved so that only specified audiences or groups can obtain and use it.

The Communications Penumbra

penumbra is “something that covers, surrounds, or obscures” a thing. A penumbra, in U.S. Constitutional law, means a group of rights implied by another, stated right in the Bill of Rights. (Thank you, Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and William O. Douglas.) To a certain extent, both definitions apply here, I think. How?

Customer Communication

Organizations and individuals communicate to customers or service users through the World-Wide Web, that can include static information, comments, contact forms, social media, and forums. Argue that these are tools, but each is a separate form of communication.

Public Relations

PR staff issue public service announcements and press releases as well as other external communications to media outlets, social media, suppliers, affiliates, and staff.

Staff Communications

Internal communications are, or can be, accommodated using an intranet accessed across the organization’s Website. Sometimes—often, these days—memoranda, technical notes, design documents, run books, and such are stored and retrieved using a tool such as MicroSoft SharePoint. The design, architecture, and access controls needed to provide easy of use and data protection are part of the organization’s communication plan and policies.

What’s The Beef?

If you do not have a communication plan, you cannot expect your Website to support it. Further, you make it incredibly difficult for an ethical Web designer to create a Website for you or your organization. Remember the Rule of 4Ps:

Prior Planning Prevents Problems