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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Websites for DECs

No matter how small the county - every DEC should have an effective web presence. This is one area where many DECs fall short. Websites are viewed as an amenity rather than an essential. These vital pieces of infrastructure will only become more important as time goes on. This is because more and more people are using the Internet as a means of getting their information, staying informed, shopping, meeting people, and having fun.

DECs have to evolve with the times. Good websites can yield significant results for DECs in terms of volunteer recruitment, contributions, network development, and keeping your supporters well informed and up to date.

What stops many DECs from building a website is the potential complexity and cost. This is only true to some degree. If you're familiar with navigating the web, and using Microsoft Office applications such as Word and Excel (possibly Access) - then you can probably maintain a website.

Building one isn't that complex, either. The only real technical knowledge you may need is a bit of knowledge of HTML, and possibly (though not likely) in CSS. You can learn all the things you need to know and more about HTML and CSS here.

You can certainly build a website purely on HTML and CSS, but that would take a lot of time. There are several packages out there which can do most of the work for you - you just have to fill in the spaces. The package I recommend is Drupal. With this book on Drupal, installing and configuring is easy, easy, easy.

This is what we're doing with the Marion DEC website, which should be released at the end of the summer. I'll talk more about things you can do with a good DEC website later today.

13 comments:

Jennifer said...

Heck, they could set up a blog for free and not have to know any programming at all or pay for a domain name. For DEC's in rural counties that are largely Republican being able to do something cheap and easy is the name of the game. Plus, in those circumstances, a simple site with meeting notices and contact information would be enough to get them started. You can always upgrade to a more robust system later.

Ray Seaman said...

Absolutely. Great point, Jennifer. A blogspot or WordPress site is great for starters.

Jennifer said...

For those who are more familiar or comfortable with Microsoft technology, there's Dot Net Nuke, which is also completely open source and there are several web hosts that will even set it up for you.

Eddie said...

Our DEC uses a service called Dem-Link

You can see the page here.

You can see Dem-Link's homepage here.

Our DEC web page can definitely be improved, but the vital tools like mailing lists, contribute and volunteer buttons, and meeting announcements are there.

Eddie said...

Another good idea for DECs is to utilize Eventful Politics to put their meetings online. Not only can you create and join events for free, but Eventful submits those results to other events sites and search engines. It also picks up and displays related events from Meetup.com, PartyBuilder, and other sites.

We made a group for our DEC to post all related Democratic events in the county.

Jennifer said...

Good Grief! There are 20 counties that have no web presense at all and of them 2 don't have any contact information on the FDP website, which leads me to believe there's no organization at all in those counties.

Here's the list:

Braford
Collier
Columbia
Dixie
Franklin*
Gadsden
Gilchrist
Gulf
Hardee
Hendry
Highlands
Jackson
Lafayette*
Levy
Liberty
Madison
Monroe
Polk
Putnam
Union

Is there some way that those of us in neighboring counties or the neighboring DECs could help them get something set up for them? It doesn't have to be fancy or cost anything - just get a basic site up.

Gadsden is near me. I'm happy to report that Wakulla County just recently got a site set up will be holding elections for committemen and committeewoman.

Eddie said...

Polk County has a site here.

Jennifer said...

Good! Here's the FDP's list:

http://www.fladems.com/content/county_organizations

We should notify them if there are any sites not listed.

Eddie said...

Yeah, that's a good idea. I'll start looking for the missing counties' web pages if they exist.

Pretty sad we have to do the FDP's job for them!

Eddie said...

Gilchrist County Democratic Party

Jackson County Democratic Party*

* hasn't been updated in a couple years

I checked out the supervisor of elections websites for some of these counties. Many of them have many, many more registered Democrats than Republicans (though how many of the Dems are Dixiecrats is hard to say...) I also took a look at the election results. Republicans win in these counties way more than they should with the registration demographics the way they are and turnout is abysmally low.

Eddie said...

Just emailed the FDP (email@fladems.com), but you may want to, too. Hopefully someone will get through.

Ron Mills said...

The Broward Dec Uses:
http://PhilterMedia.com
Under a Major Over Haul Right Now
so does Weston Democrats

Jennifer said...

I'll send an email out to Phillip Perry. He's FDP's IT guy. They're getting ready for the JJ right now, but when things slow down they can add the missing sites and we may be able to come up with a plan to get more DEC's set up.