If you are the proud owner(s) of a funded Horizon 2020 project – congratulations! Now, you are not only tasked with executing your innovative and groundbreaking project, but also with seeing through marketing and business activities that aim to maximize the impact of your project. We’ve already written a complete guide on the importance of the Impact section of your Horizon 2020 project. We followed that with an extensive explanation of why you must ensure to market your Horizon 2020 project (and we urge you to check them both out). That being said, the specific topic we’re addressing here relates to one of the most essential parts of said dissemination & communication (marketing) plan – your official Horizon 2020 project’s website. There’s quite a lot to take into account when planning, executing, and up-keeping the website of your project. This is exactly why we’ve put together this guide. So, continue reading to discover the essential information needed to kick-start your Horizon 2020 project’s website.
Understanding the WHY of your Horizon 2020 project’s website
Before we go on about the essential components of creating your website, let’s first understand just how crucial it is. Websites have not only become commonplace for most types of information exchange, they are also an essential part of most marketing plans (and your Horizon 2020 project should come as no exception). Any future online marketing and communication activities which you will execute for your project should lead interested audiences to your website.
Keeping this in mind, a professional website for your project can achieve the following valuable aspects:
- Truth be told, and as we’ve already touched on, the fact of the matter is that your target audience genuinely expects a website.
- The website will serve as a compelling, engaging and inviting medium through which you will showcase your project. Gone are the days of endless PDF files, email attachments, or a cluttered paper-filled desk. Your website is the one-stop-shop that will encapsulate all the information about your project, and help you save time and energy when you want to explain your project to others.
- Control the narrative of your project. Given that your Horizon 2020 project offers a profoundly innovative and groundbreaking approach within your area of expertise, it may mean that not all eyes and ears will take to understanding it right away. There’s a lot of information to grasp, but your website will enable you to clearly set the stage for your audience, and connect them with the relevant information through a positive online experience. Pages, menus, charts, diagrams – you name it and your website can host it.
- Being that it is online, the website will be able to provide greater exposure that is no longer tied down by geographical constraints. In this way, you can extend past the scientific ecosystem and your immediate peers or acquaintances, and be well on your way to acquiring the global attention your Horizon 2020 project rightfully deserves.
- With the above increase in exposure, you’ll also increase your chances for customers, collaboration opportunities, and possibly even interested investors for additional funding of your project.
- Unlike you (who will most likely be spending most of the time executing your project and researching away), your website is always accessible. That means it can continue to do the talking for you, even when you are tied down and buried completely by heaps of work.
- Unlike other mediums and forms of communications, your website is a truly dynamic resource that can be constantly updated with additional resources, news and updates about your project.
Setting the stage for your Horizon 2020 project’s website
Now that we have fully realized the potential a website can offer your project, it is time to focus on the various elements to take into account when creating the base for your website.
- Choosing your website builder. You’ve probably heard of Wix and WordPress, but these aren’t the only available options to choose from in the world of website builders. Knowing the features, capabilities, price plans and overall feedback for each option is important in the process of choosing the right builder for your project. Once you’ve chosen the builder for you, you’ll have to go through the process of fully installing and ensuring it is ready for setup and design.
- Hosts and Domains. The next step after choosing the website builder, is to choose a host service and purchase yourself a unique and professional domain name. Most builders provide default names, but these will certainly not help your project stand out and be memorable. As for the host – this is what will enable you to connect your site to the internet, and accommodate the different content, photos and information. Here, as well, there is a very wide selection! Choosing the right host will mean your site will run smoothly, avoid (as much as possible) the risk for down-time or hacking, perform better in search engines, and more. Price plans, functions, and features also vary here, so research is much needed.
- Templates & design. The way your website can look is truly endless, but it definitely should not look like colors, fonts, and any other design aspects were randomly chosen and put in place. Quite the opposite – your website must showcase a very specific and unique design which accurately reflects your project. Additionally, the design will have a strong influence on how your audience perceives not only your website, but your Horizon 2020 project itself. What sector is the project a part of? What colors best represent your project’s subject? What is the most ideal font to use? We can easily overlook the amount of time and effort that was put in place for the design of a website. In reality, this is such an important part of the process (so much it deserves its own article at the very least). Once a proper design has been outlined and clearly defined, it is time to start searching through the many available themes of your website builder, and to find the one that best mirrors your design plan. Changes can be made to any theme, but it is best to start with one which is most relevant to your end goal. Again, time is a big factor here, as you’ll have a lot of themes to consider, and each theme has many different aspects to examine.
- Adding content. Theme chosen and installed, it is time to start adding content to your website. The basic “types” of content are pages, menus, posts, images, sidebars, headers and footers. In the section below we’ll discuss the overall content your website should have. Here, it is important to stress that taking the time to learn how your website builder functions, that is to say how to add different types of content, is essential.
- SEO. Much like the design tab above, ensuring your website is SEO friendly is HUGE. This is a big topic to fully take in so presently we’ll cover the essentials. First, SEO (search engine optimization) includes all the available strategies and techniques to employ to improve the ranking of a website (and it’s internal content) in search engines. Above many other things, we want to ensure our website is SEO strong so it comes up high in search engines, and more people discover it. Some of the things to consider when we work to improve the SEO of our website is: taglines, headlines, titles, meta descriptions, being mobile friendly, keywords, website speed & overall performance, image sizes, and more. As you continue to add content, features, and sections to your website – make sure SEO is always considered and optimized.
- Analytics tools. With all the efforts you’ll be putting into your website, you’ll surely want to know if people are actually finding it. And, provided they are, you’ll want to know what pages they are spending most time on, the ones through which they exit the site, and so on. The best way to gain such important insights is through analytics tools. The most common one is Google Analytics, and you can connect it to your website so it collects all this important data. Here, again, you can spend time to customize the tool based on the important analytics you’d like insights on.
The essential components of your Horizon 2020 project’s website
Having established the added value a site can provide your Horizon 2020 project, and the essentials you’ll need to get started, it is time to turn our attention to the pages your website should include. As already stated, your website will, to a large extent, influence the audience’s impression about your project, so let’s make sure it is a positive one.
As you plan the content for your website, take into consideration the following pages:
- Homepage. First impressions are crucial. In the context of websites, most often it is the homepage that will be tasked with making these first impressions positive. Granted, not all visitors will enter the website through the homepage (as they may enter it via a landing page or via an internal web page indexed by a search engine) , but in most instances they will navigate there to sense (in less than 30 seconds) if this is the site they are looking for. Therefore, your homepage must be engaging, communicate your key message clearly, interest your audience with relevant images, and more. If you needed to explain your project in one sentence – how would you do it? If you needed to touch on the potential impact your project can have on this world – how would you do that? Be sure to touch on the project’s value proposition right away, catch your audience’s attention, and establish your authority in the field. This way, they will be sure to go on to reading more about what your project is all about in additional pages.
- About the project. This is your opportunity to go into greater detail about your project. Consider what it is you want your audience to know. And, more than that, be sure to leave out all the added information they simply do not need to get into. Also think about the most engaging and communicative way to tell the story of your project, and be sure to add the necessary features, visuals, and add-ons that will help you best convey these messages. Don’t forget to include just how much your project is innovative and groundbreaking, and to explain the potential impact that can come through.
- Meet you & the rest of the consortium. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself, and the rest of the project’s members, to your audience. Think about the important points they need to know about you. Strategize about the best way to introduce the project’s members, their background and role in the project. A strong and solid consortium, led by a skilful Coordinator, is the heart of every successful project. Make sure the page showcases exactly why this is the team that will ensure that this ambitious research project will produce the impact it intends to achieve.
Blog/Updates. If you’re thinking of curating a blog with updates for your project – you’re 100% correct. Your website’s blog is essential in helping you maintain an ongoing relationship with your audience, and ensure they always have a reason to come back and check for news and progress. Through this blog, you can introduce new breakthroughs, bring up exciting announcements, or simply explain in greater detail key aspects of your research.
- Resources and publications. Has your Horizon 2020 project succeeded in achieving recognition? Does it appear in important publications / conferences? Don’t be shy about it! Include links and additional detail about the project’s exciting achievements, as these will further engage and impress your audience.
- Contact. You must be accessible to your site visitors and provide them with a clear and easy way to get in touch. Here, think about what may be the preferred method of contact for your audience, and include it! The contact page is also a great place to include links to your social media accounts (we’d recommend that this will be part of your marketing and communication strategy, and we promise to cover this fascinating area too soon… ).
- Clear CTA’s. Would you like your audience to take specific actions when viewing the various parts of your website? Should they contact you for specific opportunities for collaboration? Subscribe for updates? Share updates about your project with their peers? Be aware – it is typical that most people aren’t going to think of such actions on their own. CTA’s (calls-to-action), when placed strategically, can act as constant reminders for these important goals.
Keeping your project’s website up-to-date
Creating your website is surely not a one-off project. Rather, you’ll need to create a clear plan for constantly updating it with any news or relevant information. Daily, weekly, and monthly check-ups of you site are mandatory. As well, as we mentioned analytics can tell you a lot about your website. The insights you gain there will touch on any necessary changes that must be made to improve the audience’s experience, and more. So, don’t neglect that (like many do). Dedicate time and resources to keeping your project’s website up to date.
It should be well understood by now that creating your Horizon 2020 project’s website is, in fact, a project on its own. The Enspire Science team is here to help you develop, manage, oversee, and take care of these and any other marketing and business activities for your funded project.