If you depend on one person to maintain your website you’re headed for a fall. Eventually that person will move away, or get too busy and decide to resign. Then you’re back to square one, with no skills to maintain your site, and less money than you had before.
Other than winning the lottery so that you can hire another webmaster, training a web team is the only solution I know for solving this classic problem. But how can you train a team of volunteers who have busy lives, and not much time to learn and practice? How do you keep in touch with them and teach them, and respond to their questions and coach them as day by day they practice their skills?
This post covers several free resources for communicating with your web team members. Many of them are Google offerings, so your web team members will benefit from opening a Gmail account. From the Gmail inbox many of these resources are available by links:
- Google Groups
- Google Photos (uses the free editor, Picasa)
- Google Documents
- Google Chat and Hangouts
In addition to these Google resources this post will cover one more, Join.me.
O.K. now for details:
Google Groups: At the top left of your Gmail inbox, under the “other” link, select “Groups”, and follow the instructions for opening a Google group. Google groups are listservs. A listserv is a speedy and secure way to send and receive email messages within a group of people with common interests and commitments. Here’s how it works: An administrator opens the group and invites friends to join. When they enroll they immediately begin receiving messages sent to the group address, and they can share a message with all group members by addressing an email note to the group address. All messages sent to the group are archived at the home page of the group. As new members join they can visit that page and see back messages. Communicating through a listserv is safer than sending messages by pasting multiple email addresses in an addressee window, because spammers can cull addresses from intercepted messages, but they can’t get at the individual email addresses of listserv members. You might want to open a Google group for your web team, because back messages will be archived and will be available if a member loses a group message.
Google Photos: Click on the “photos” link at the top of your Gmail inbox and upload your personal photos to a Google album using the free photo editor, Picasa. Google photo albums will give your web team members a very handy way to share photos that you may want to use for your website. If you have some volunteer photographers in your organization, you can give them the url of an album and ask them to upload their photos there. You can give the album url to the person who makes site posts so that he/she can download photos for web pages. Thus, Google photo albums is a convenient mid-point between those who take photos and those who use them.
Google Documents: Click on the Documents link off your Gmail inbox. Then, click on the “create” link at the top left of the window. Notice that you can create several kinds of documents, including word processing documents, presentations (think Power Point), spreadsheets, drawings, and forms. All of these can be used on websites. Also notice that on the right side of the Gmail inbox window at the top is a “share” button. There you can authorize other persons to collaborate with you on these documents. It’s so hard to work with others on documents when you email the documents back and forth because it’s hard to keep track of the latest version. But by collaborating with Google Documents all the co-workers see the same page, edit the same page, the one on the Google server. If the content on your website requires review and reworking by a team before it reaches the final editing stage, Google Documents is the tool for you!
Google Chat and Hangouts: Your team members will save time by meeting together online. Google chat can be done by text, but if your team members can afford webcams, then you can see and hear each other. Webcams are getting better and better and less expensive, so try to acquire a webcam for each team member. Google hangouts is a feature of the recently opened Google+ social network. Hangouts permit up to ten people to video chat with each other for free. That means they can see and hear each other in real time. No need to meet together in person. Call your web team members to a hangout and do your business online!
Finally, one more tool for online meetings: Join.me. If you go to Join.me you will see a button for inviting persons to join you for an online meeting. When you click that button you receive a link to email the persons whom you want to invite to the meeting. When they receive that link via email and click on it, in a few moments they will be able to see your Desktop. As you move your cursor back and forth, they can see that. They can see whatever you do on your own computer. If you first establish an audio connection with all meeting members and then establish this Join.me visual connection with them, you then have all the tools you need to conduct a free webinar! You can play a Google presentation file on your Desktop and they can see it and hear you as you teach. This is a free way to do distance learning. Details are explained in this CyberKenBlog post.
View the next post in this series: The Control Center for a WordPress Website