The initial Better State site (betterstate.org.au) was built in October 2009 on a drupal platform.
We found that the site was too complex for people to take action, find content and created high barriers for revisitation and engagement.
We had a community of people who were linked to one or two services and were interested in how the umbrella campaign was running, but also wanted specific news and events from their delegates, union leaders and activists. They wanted to know about the service area they were involved with, not necessarily updates from all arms of the campaign.
We had tried to create a community within a bubble. We were holding onto all updates about campaigns for each service and all communication about events and actions.
We were trying to give everyone everything. But the problem was that many of the campaigns had their own on/offline presence, website and brand, causing news and events to become fragmented, double-handled and messy.
We found drupal itself was harder to blog, create events and update on than most other blog platforms.
The tools that the original site included – secure login for content, multi-layered permission structures for content/action and communication/data access were complicated and too clunky to be used across traditional campaigning.
So we decided to move from the idea of creating one whole online community with permissions and profiles to a simple low-barrier campaign update.
We envisaged a central campaign blog to talk only about the umbrella Better State campaign. It would house actions specifically for the whole and direct people to service sub-sites – Unions NSW affiliates – to find out updates and actions specific to their service of interest.
Subscription would be as simple as adding your name and email and you could choose to subscribe to the umbrella updates – or one or many of the sub-sites you had navigated to.
Each sub-site has a simple panel to introduce the campaign, the objectives relevant to that service and a simple action (initially to subscribe).
Instead of trying to produce all content on the site, we now link to any current campaign sites that are being run for that service, cutting down on content double ups and leaving the communities where they already have been built.
We can see already that the site is easier to navigate. The Better State campaigns ‘asks’ aren’t lost. People are subscribing, signing the Better State petition and then subscribing to the service sub-site that’s relevant to them.
– Stuart Gillies, EMC
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