Website Tips for CHCs Part I

The CHC Website: Getting Started

County Historical Commissions (CHC) are increasingly developing websites to enhance outreach efforts and document organizational accomplishments. To assist CHCs in their efforts to develop this promotional tool, the CHC Outreach Program provides the following recommendations for building and enhancing your organization's website.

We recommend that the CHC have one official website that is clearly labeled and well organized. Establishing your identity is especially important in communities that have history-related societies, which are often confused with the CHC. The CHC's website should also include a description of the organization and contact information. This web environment is a great way to share the CHC accomplishments and ongoing projects with the public.

Some CHCs have gone beyond simply documenting work and use their website to host a digital collection of reference material for historic and cultural resources. Regardless of its size, the key to an effective website is organization.

At left, is a clip of the Calhoun CHC’s website, which is an  excellent example of a well-organized home page. The home page of a website is the first page the public sees and the page to which all other web pages are connected. Calhoun CHC’s home page is clearly defined by a title header, a center section, and left and right sidebars. The sub category links on the left sidebar are easy to find and navigate.

Successful websites include well-focused and dynamic photographs. Keep your audience captivated by using a range of historic photographs, current photos of historic buildings, and photos of CHC members working on a preservation project or accepting accolades for their efforts. For more photography tips, revisit this article. Use photos to draw attention to the website, document the work that your CHC has accomplished, highlight on-going projects, and illustrate the history of your county.

The website should also include the CHC mission statement and contact information. Use the website to introduce the CHC to the public and as a foundation for building relationships with individuals and organizations in your county. Posting meeting minutes, agendas, and upcoming event information is a great way to encourage transparency, showing the public what the CHC has done, is doing, and will do in the future. Travis CHC’s website includes a link to a “Meeting Minute Archive” and a contact phone number on the home page.

Before starting a website, we strongly recommend meeting with your county webmaster or IT department to discuss creating a page for the CHC. If the county is unable to offer the CHC a website, consider seeking the donated services of a web developer or using an online web hosting service. We have outlined the pros and cons of each below.

Type of CHC Website

Pros

Cons

Sub-page of the county’s website

Legitimize the CHC as an appointed body authorized by the county commissioners court

May have to rely on the county to add, edit, and delete content

Donation of web developer’s service

More freedom in design and content

May not be sustainable without the services of web developer

Online web hosting services

Easy to set up and add content

May cost money; web address will be longer

 

Thank you Calhoun CHC and Travis CHC for providing helpful examples for this website help page! We hope this information helps your organization to develop or edit your own website.