Learning About Ourselves by Working on the Website

If you are a Code for Asheville member, you probably don’t spend much time hanging out on our website. The site is primarily used by people who don’t know us, from the generally curious to potential members or partners. At our February 8th Community Night we spent some time exploring how well our current site meets these visitors’ needs.

Let’s just say that we didn’t need to explore very far to determine that we’re doing a very poor job.

So we are fixing it. We started that night and will continue at our March 8 meeting. As we envisioned it, the site will contain five pages:

  • Home Page – A quick view of who we are and what we do, with clear next steps to learn more, come to a meeting, or sign up for the newsletter.
  • What We Do – Three sections present descriptions and examples for the primary types of activity we engage in:
    • Civic Technology – Projects that create new capabilities in our community, like Sunshine Request, the Reentry Hub, or the Beloved Computer Lab.
    • Data for Policy Advocacy – Projects that help the community use data to more effectively advocate for positive change, such as the work on racial disparities in traffic stops or homeless interactions with law enforcement.
    • Bringing People Together – Events and activities that forge new connections within our communities, such as ReRoute AVL, Open Data Day and our collaboration with UniteWNC.
  • Who We Are – A brief introduction to the people who participate in Code for Asheville. This page will also host brief video clips of members from our StoryTell project.
  • Blog – The blog will present the main article from each edition of the newsletter, with a link to the full version.
  • About Us – A general information page with links to Code for America, our Meetup site, and third-party articles about Code for Asheville.

Our work at our Community Night benefited tremendously from having both long-time participants and first-timers. In the end, the work turned out to be more than just fixing a broken website. It actually became a process of together discovering who we are. As brigade captain Eric Jackson commented: “I learned things about Code for Asheville that hadn’t occurred to me before, like our role in bringing people together. It’s true, but nobody ever quite named it before. That was exciting.”

Those interested will continue working on the site at our March 8 meetup.

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