You know what you want to say. You know how important it is. You know what you want to accomplish, and how vitally necessary it is.
But most of the people reading your webpage for the first time don't. You have to grab them and convince them. You have to interest them, give them a reason for hearing you out, and make it easy for them to follow you.
Once you have written out what you want to present on your web site, step back and look at it from the viewpoint of a casual browser coming across the site for the first time.
"Now, why do I want to know your opinions on the solution to homelessness?"
Perhaps what you really want your reader to do is to donate $10,000, plant 15 trees, or sail a tugboat into the path of an oiltanker. It wouldn't hurt to give them some other options, too. Once a person has done anything, they are more likely to do it again. Once you get someone to make an investment of time and energy, no matter how small, in your cause, they are likely to follow it up with more. So don't pass up getting your readers to do something small. Not all of us jumped into full 24-hour a day activism immediately.
Think carefully about what you are asking people to do. The Internet is seductive. Stirring up a storm of 50,000 emails may look like creating an effect. But is it? What if all of the emails are going from one True Believer to another?
Two contrasting examples of Internet activism:
Censure & Move On! may not have managed to get the Impeachment hearings shut down, but they are credited with influencing the 1998 elections and are expected to have an influence on the elections in 2000.
A chain letter about the plight of women in Afghanistan showed up on every activist list I am a member of, and several non-activist lists. Only three times did anyone speak up about the limited effectiveness of chain letters in such situations, or pass on the report that the well-intentioned originator of this letter had been swamped with email far beyond her expectations, and her university had canceled her email account.
are some of the differences between the two campaigns?
channeled email directly from concerned citizens to their elected representatives.
|| The Taliban
petition had several layers of intermediaries built in; even if an entire
paid staff had been available to collect and compile the email petitions
and send them on, the results would be less effective than direct contact
created a website where information was posted and activities took place;
email broadcasts were limited to an announcement of the website URL to audiences
expected to be sympathetic; they also got media coverage, as their influence
|| A lengthy
email, like the Taliban petition, is 1) less likely to be thoroughly read;
2) more likely to draw "spam" complaints; 3) looks less professional than
a well-organized website; 4) is highly unlikely to draw media coverage.
collected names and contact information of sympathizers, and was able to
organize follow-up activities.
|| This is
impossible to do in an email circulating petition.
Did the Taliban petition accomplish anything at all? It did make it obvious that a lot of good people cared passionately about the plight of women in Afghanistan. But it also pointed up the lesson of activism that caring passionately is not enough. Passion must be expressed in effective action if the world is going to change for the better. Listen directly to the women of Afghanistan.
Some effective ways to use your energy:
What else can you think of to do?
Before starting a new webring, newsgroup, web forum or mailing list, take a look at what exists now and see if there is one that you can join and help build up. There are over 6 billion people in the world and they can't all be on one mailing list, so if there is already one listserv discussing recycling and you want to start another go right ahead. But do network.
Give something back to them. Perhaps the content of your page is its own gift: food and shelter resources, solutions to common problems, or other useful information. But there are many extra gifts you can offer easily: search tools, link information, recommendations of free webpage and email providers.
Give them a chance to talk, too. Grassroots activism, after all, is about individual empowerment. Provide as many ways for your readers to give you their own feedback as possible: a guestbook, an email link, a link to a newsgroup, a webpage forum.
Some providers, however, are using marketing methods that some of us consider ineffective because so many people send us email saying "I'M NEVER COMING BACK TO YOUR SITE AGAIN BECAUSE OF THOSE $%#@! POPUP WINDOWS!" Geocities and many others provide an option of a "banner" ad display bar on the page, *or* a popup window. Others give you no choice -- you will pay for your site, or you will have a popup window.
Some of us have developed workarounds. On Tripod, I insert the following into my HEAD section:
You can use the same script on any other server beside Tripod. You need to study the server's original popup script to learn the name of the popup window and the URL of the script file that controls it, then substitute these in the window.open parameters.
I also include a link to the Tripod front page and a clickable option to view their popup by choice -- it really is an excellent navigational aid, and as soon as they fix the problems that plague 60% of the browsers visiting my sites, I won't need this workaround.
There used to be an "I Hate Geopops" page on XOOM for more info, but it's gone. The "I Hate Geopops" site offered a few other workarounds, but the above script is the only one that I have found to work. It does work -- the popup window will flash on for a few seconds, but it will then disappear.
That "I Hate Geopops" page went into more detail on the disadvantages of popups; also on the basic argument that yes, service providers need to advertise, those of us who use free services are in favor of their making lots of money on advertising so that we can go on using their free services -- but we want the advertising to be effective. When I have people emailing me "I'm never coming back to your site again because of those popups!" I suspect the technique is not effective.
But I do urge you, if you bypass popups on your website, to provide another way (that fits into your own site design) to plug your server and help them out. This is going to benefit you in the long run.
Escaping Popups as a Viewer
From the other side of the screen, there is a way to avoid the popups on any site. See here.
A good start on webpage
A Webpage Design Portal Page
Other Examples: (For
a good campaign call ...)
Search Engine Disputes by James Huggins
Burn All GIFs by James Huggins