Smart Solutions

Website appraisal and communication planning tool

What is the purpose

The ‘Website appraisal and communication planning tool’ has been developed by eTownz (one of the Smart Rural 21 project partner companies) in the context of the 2nd Smart Village Academy (23 February 2021), with the aim to help local communities assessing their own website and communication tools that can be the basis of taking further actions for improving the website and communication strategy of a local community. The tool can help to take the first steps in developing a comprehensive communication strategy, through considering various communication tools from internal to external communication.

How does it work?

The self-appraisal questionnaire is structured in three sections and specific sub-sections within each of those:


  • External communication tools (“youtalk and others listen”)
  • Internal communication tools (for the community to share ideas, etc.)

Web services

  • Tools
  • Exchange platforms (with focus on businesses)
  • Community services (including tool & talents sharing, crowd-funding tools)
  • Promotion / profiling

Team & administration

  • Branding and contents
  • Administration, funders and feedback systems

Users can assess based on a drop-down menu the status of the various aspects of their communication profile, classified according to two dimensions: (i) whether the community has the specific tool and/or (ii) how important the specific tool for the community is. The template also allows specifying next steps and timing (based on the relevance of certain aspects).

Finally, the questionnaire/ template – as well as the accompanying tutorial video presented by Pat Kennedy (eTownz) also includes a series of tips in relation to various communication aspects. The tool can be both used as a self-appraisal tool by the local community (with the lead of a communication team or experts) or as a support tool for (rural) communities, e.g. during training sessions/ capacity building sessions organised.

Who is the tool for?

The tool is designed for those planning and implementing communication actions in a local community. As specified in the tutorial, communication tasks can concern a wide range of stakeholders in the local community, including IT developers, contents developers, local photographers and members of the community (e.g. businesses, tourism services, etc.). The tool is also suitable for (specialist) support organisations that carry out (communication) capacity-building activities in local communities, e.g. to run a communications capacity-building session in communities.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Managing social media can be demanding. Consider dividing the roles into contents generation and contents management
  • Wikipedia can be useful. Wikipedia is often neglected as an online communication tool, however, it is worth considering as it is often the first item that an Internet search gives for the village’s name.
  • Project management tools can be useful. A community might also want to consider using project management tools as part of its internal communication strategy to assign tasks, exchange ideas, follow-up on progress, etc.
  • Websites is not only for information provision. Websites can be means of collecting and sharing data and information (e.g. on local businesses), could provide marketplace (e.g. to sell local products).
  • Online platforms (websites) can be used to develop grouped products or promote shared tools, talents, etc. Collaboration between various local services can be facilitated through online tools through achieving economies of scale.
  • Think about profiling your community. Websites can be used to promote your community to potential newcomers and businesses as well as present ongoing initiatives to members of the community and beyond. Consider creating specific targeted pages in your website for these purposes.
  • Online tool development can build on the material / knowledge of local photographers. Give specific themes, organise photo competitions to engage the local community members and collect material to promote your community.

How the tool was already used?

The tool was developed and used in the context of the 2nd Smart Village Academy (23 February 2021) of the Smart Rural 21 project, within the ‘Website and community platforms for community engagement’ workshop facilitated by eTownz (Pat Kennedy). The workshop also included a series of case presentations from various Smart Rural 21 participant villages with an interest in developing online platforms and website, to better engage the local community and/or to attract new-comers and businesses into the local area.

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