Jack Neely's cover article on the deficiencies of Knoxville-based websites and how poorly they entice outsiders to this area could not be more accurate and on point. ["Image Problem," March 7, 2013]
Having worked for one of the organizations noted in Neely's article, I believe the most common reasons sites do not measure up are that organizations: 1.) give little or no thought to what their audience wants or needs to know, 2.) decide content by committee or by an administrator who has his or her own ax to grind but no idea about public relations, 3.) use too much text, uncreative design, incomprehensible navigation, and poor photography, and—the final nail in the coffin— 4.) neglect to hire staff members whose primary job is dedicated to keeping the website up-to-date..
Websites are an integral part of an overall communications package—but only a part. An effective website is a sign that an organization knows who it is; can effectively relate its story; understands and cares about its audience; and realizes it must provide the money and resources required for stellar design, photography, and constant updating of the site.
Knoxville could certainly learn from Chattanooga. Our sister city had the foresight in 2010 to spend the money and build the infrastructure to provide one of the fastest Internet connections in the world. Their ultra-high-speed Internet service of up to one gigabit a second is 200 times faster than the average broadband speed in America. Only Hong Kong had similar speeds at the time.
And Chattanooga made those decisions after Volkswagen and its many suppliers opened shop and Amazon announced they were opening a plant. Before Volkswagen chose Chattanooga for its plant, the company mentioned that having German taught in the local schools where they locate would be helpful. Chattanooga did it straight away, before they won the plant. They have leaders who not only can employ effective websites (chattanooga.gov and chattanooga.com), but are willing to make investments and do what it takes to attract the high-tech jobs of today and tomorrow.
Name Withheld By Request
Corrected: Rephrased point #4 at the request of the writer.