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Your website should be the hub for all your communications activity – it is where all your other communications materials will direct people to go for more information and a key hit when search engines are used. If you lack the technical skills to set up a website yourself, try appealing to your friends, family and other supporters to see if they have a contact who could help with developing a website. In the long run, it is worth actively recruiting someone with the IT skills to maintain and update a website.

There are a few fundamental features to consider when developing your website. Key pages to have include:

About us. Not everyone that visits your website will already know about who your group are and what you do. Having an “About us” page is therefore essential to provide an overview and introduction to your group.

Projects. An introduction to your projects, what they are and how people can get involved should be a fundamental part of your website.

The team. Including a page of profiles or bios for your key group members, such as directors and regular volunteers, can make your group seem more real, human and friendly.

Photo gallery and videos. A photo gallery, or videos, can really help to bring your project to life. It is one thing reading about an excited new project; it is another thing to see evidence of what has been happening in practice.

Latest news or blog. This could include news about your project, but also related local, national and international news relating to the environment or sustainable energy. See the Blogging suggestions for more ideas.

Mailing list sign up. You should take every opportunity to keep a record of your supporters so that you can contact them directly about your project. Having a mailing list sign up form on your site is an easy next step for those who want to find out more or are interested in becoming more involved.

Key documents. It may be worth uploading key documents, such as your constitution, business plan, strategies, past newsletters or share offer details for people to download. Having such documents available can help give the impression that your group is transparent and well-organised, which can increase the confidence newcomers feel in your project.

Contact us. Having a contact form, email address, phone number and postal address can all be useful for collecting feedback and responding to queries.

Links. Having a page of links to your group’s other webpages, such as on social media or blogging sites, as well as to relevant publications, other community groups in your area or other groups involved with similar projects can help to encourage people to develop their interest and find out more.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Brighton Energy Co-operative’s website sets out their existing solar PV projects, including photos and statistics on electricity generated and money raised. How the initiative works and related investment opportunities are explained in detail, including reasons for investing and information on returns and tax breaks. There is a detailed FAQs section and key documents are available to download, such as an information pack for potential solar landlords, their model rules and share invitation. In addition, the website includes a pledge scheme which enables anyone who is interested in becoming a shareholder to pledge the amount they would like to invest and to send on their contact details. This feature was particularly useful in the run up to the launch of their first public share offer, as it produced a list of potential members and demonstrated the extent of support for the project – over just a few months they had more than £100,000 pledged!

Country: UK

Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative has a “Westmill Voices Video” page which allows visitors to their site to hear some of their community shareholders talking about what the project means to them. The video was filmed by members of the Co-operative and local supporters in 2009 and 2010 and gives a taste of how it feels to be part of the project. They encourage people to share this video whenever possible.

Country: UK

Hook Norton Low Carbon’s website was developed, and is currently managed, by one of the members of the management board. At periods of time where specific areas of the website needed to be upgraded, the group also commissioned a member of the community who runs a web design business to carry out an overhaul of the website to keep it current and effective.