to set up a website briefing
Why get on the Web?
NOTE: This briefing is now several years old. It has been
slightly updated in August 2010 but most of the hints and tips
are still relevant.
UNISON is a trade union trailblazer as far as
the World Wide Web (www) is concerned. The UNISON website www.unison.org.uk was the first UK national trade
union site and UNISONScotland had the first regional website in
Many branches are also now on the web. Most find
it an exceptionally useful tool for information, organising and
promotion of UNISON. Most UNISON members and non-members now have
access to the www either at work or at home. Young people especially
are one of the key target markets.
Like all communication, a lot of design and content
questions can be answered by proper planning. Branches should
Objectives - what do you want your
site to do? To pass on information, to recruit non-members, to
be used as an on-line resource? It may be more than one.
Target audience(s) - are
we aiming this at branch members? Non-members? The public? The
answers will dictate how you set up your site, and the level of
expertise you can expect from visitors.
Information - The key. People
visit websites for information. Looking good is important but
people won't return if there is no information.
Logical layout - So visitors (and
you) don't get lost. Identify what pages you need, and what links.
Draw a website map i.e. a plan of the site. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/map.html is the
TIP - Have a link to your home page on
every page as an escape route.
Now you need to get your site online. Free hosting
is available from many free ISPs (Internet service providers,
eg FreeUK, Virgin.net etc) or free webspace usually comes with
your broadband package.
You are then on to paying for a host. The Phonecoop
is a long standing Internet co-operative that hosts many TU
and labour movement sites like UNISON Scotland
and UNISON City of Edinburgh.
Poptel are very helpful and support is included in the hosting.
Web designers are expensive. You get what you
pay for. For £600 to £1,000 you will likely get a site you could
have done (probably better) yourself. If you buy a site, you will
also have to pay for updates, and you will lose control and immediacy.
TIP - One way of starting is to use the
website templates created for you in the UNISON Communicate 3
CD (free from Communications Unit - stock no 1912). Soon, however,
you will want to start authoring.
There are a large number of easy to use web-authoring
tools around, many free. Browsers (MS Internet
contain basic authoring tools in latest versions.
get MS FrontPage for about £80 and it is easy to use but a bit cluncky.
Namo WebEditor and Adobe Dreamweaver are all comprehensive packages ranging from £100 - £600. If
you have a programme, try it out first.
Create a folder (eg Website) on your hard disk
and save any files there (this will make it easier when you want
to 'upload".). Create another (eg Graphics) for all your graphics.
This allows you to use a graphic in several pages, whilst it only
loads once. Name your main page ''index.html' or 'index.htm'.
ISPs recognise that as a default name for the home page.
TIP -Keep it small -
Keep pages at less than 45kb. Use several
small pages rather than one big one. People like to click! Not
wait for huge pages to download.
Text - Remember,
how text looks depends on what browser and what fonts the visitor
has, so give them a choice. If you are not using the default font,
give options like 'Arial, Helvetica, sans serif'.
Cascading Style Sheets -
Some authoring tools allow you to use CSS styles. This means you can set
a default style for the whole page and save time.
Use .gif or .jpg files, for graphics and photos respectively. There are
tons of free programmes (eg Ulead PhotoImpact) which will handle these. Feel free to
'borrow' any of the graphics from the UNISON Scotland
site. Just right click on the graphic then click on 'save image
as'. Don't distort the UNISON logo!
TIP - With gifs try them at 16 colours
rather than 256. They will load much faster and you won't notice
the difference. Jpgs can also be reduced in quality without much
loss of clarity.
Tables - Use tables to place things
on pages. To see how these work, go to the UNISONScotland main
page. Look at other websites. Save the pages and open them in
your authoring programme to see how they are designed.
TIP - In Internet Explorer click File-Save
As and choose 'website complete'. This saves the page to your
computer and you can open it in your authoring software.
Look at your results in the two main browsers,
Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator (both free). They display
some things differently. You will have to compromise.
Your ISP will provide you with instructions and
software to upload your pages. A basic but reliable
programme to use is WSftp, from Cnet (www.cnet.com).
Once you have done that, you're on line!
You can also do this using Internet Explorer.
Instead of typing in (for example) http://.www.mybranch.phonecoop.net,
You will be promted for your username and password and you can
pass files across just like using windows explorer. With some
providers you will have to be logged on via their connection
to do this.
Now tell UNISONScotland, UNISON UK and the main
search engines, so people can find you!
Your site will probably have a name on your
ISP like http://www.mybranch.phonecoop.net. If you want a standard
www.mybranch.org.uk, you will need to register a domain.
Poptel will do this for you, but most free ISP's
can't. Another way is to go to UKreg.com
(http://www.ukreg.com) , register a name and direct it to
your site. There are easy to follow instructions. It costs about
£10 for two years.
UNISON Communicate CD3 (Stock No 1912)
Watch this space for a training school on website
A mine of information is John Stevenson, Chair
of UNISONScotland's Communications & Campaigns Committee.
Contact him on