Gaining Online Advantage: Why does your organisation need a web presence? - part 2

 by Martin Belam, 1 January 2006

Why does your organisation need a web presence?

What I want to do now is to take the BBC as a case-study and examine why the BBC has a website, and I hope in this way to help you to work out what your web offering should be.

From the BBC's point of view, the BBC has a business need for a website. In fact it has more than one business need, and here are just an example of a few of them.

  • To fulfil the BBC's public service remit
  • To promote the BBC's channels and programme brands
  • To be accountable to the UK Licence Fee paying public
Illustration of BBC business needs

At the same time the BBC's audience has a need as well. Millions and millions of people come to the BBC's website looking for many different things. They might want to make a complaint, or get in touch with their favourite programme. They might want to find the things that the BBC brand is strongly associated with in the UK: news, sport and weather. They may just want to find out what is on TV that night.

Illustration of BBC audience needs

You can see that those two sets of needs don't overlap completely, although there are some things where there is a similarity. Obviously it is quite useful for the BBC that it wants to promote programme brands, and people are coming to the site to find TV listings, so there is a synergy there.

So you might find that within your organisation you have identified your business needs, perhaps providing information to a segment of the market, and you've identified the audience need, which is to find that information. There you've got requirements that overlap that you can address via the web. You might also find that you cannot fulfil all of either the business needs, or more frequently, the audience needs.

The BBC is quite fortunate in the way that is funded that it can actually do many of these things, and does all of the examples I outlined above on the website. So there is a site for the BBC Governors, sites for all of the channels, individual programmes have sites, and there is a large quantity of public service educational material.

The BBC also does the things that the audience were looking for, TV listings, a place to complain, and easy-to-use news, sport and weather sites.

You might find that on a tight budget, or for strategic reasons, you decide that your website is not going to cover the full spectrum of your business and audience needs. However, you should at least work out which areas you are going to cover, and why you have prioritised them as the areas relevant to your business.

Continue to find out how for strategic reasons you may wish to sometimes subvert your audience requirements.

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