Public-facing websites can be open to everyone and can allow anonymous users. These Sites can also have “members only” content, Pages, blogs, videos, downloads, etc. In the past few years, orgs have also started supporting “registered users” who fall between members and anonymous users. Typically in such scenarios, a person can create a new account (register) on the website to receive access to more information and functionality.
Before we delve into the specific SharePoint tools which enable WCM, we should describe a high-level methodology for planning and implementing a public-facing website.
This methodology is simple and has five stages: Discovery, Design, Technical Planning, Implementation and Assessment.
We’ll go out on a limb and say your website has only a couple of high-level objectives: Education and Revenue. If we were to use traditional business terminology, we could state your website supports Content, Commerce, and Community (though for many orgs community is largely about education).
Your website serves to educate your audiences at various levels. What are the issues your org is involved with? What is your org doing related to these issues? Is your website aggregating relevant information from all appropriate sources, including external sources? Does your website focus on professional development, credentials, certification, or personal development? Do you provide information not available elsewhere? Does your org provide analyses, standards, expertise, commentaries, subscriptions, or other products? Does it facilitate knowledge sharing between likeminded individuals?
Your website is also used to generate revenue.
Before you cringe in disgust, realize we are referring to Membership, Event Registrations, Subscriptions, Donations, Bookstore sales, Advertising, Career Centers, Conferences, and any other revenue-generating activity your org focuses on.
SharePoint for Public-facing Websites
As you begin your WCM project, you should clearly articulate your objectives. Remember to Capture, Clarify, and Confirm these objectives.