The fall semester of my senior year of college I interned for a local nonprofit, Family Abuse Services (FAS). The organization helps survivors of domestic violence through programs, support, and housing. My responsibility as an intern was to work on the main website for the organization. Under the guidance of a site supervisor and academic internship advisor, I worked over a period of three months on the Family Abuse Services website. They have a main campus at the Family Justice Center in Burlington that I visited to communicate with the staff and had bi-weekly meetings. I worked in the program WordPress and designed pages around images and text that was relevant to the audience and purpose of the website.
The format of the website was different in genre from other professional writing projects, but I still used basic rhetorical principles. I first sat down with my site supervisor and talked about the audience and purpose of the new website. We looked at the existing website and noted the drawbacks and faults of the formant and content. We noted that it was hard to read and unorganized, which created a feeling of disorientation and confusion for the reader. I noted the random use of color and poor visuals along with large blocks of text.
We then talked about how this conflicted with the audience and purpose of the website, which FAS sees as a resource for those looking for help with domestic violence. With this purpose I realized the need for reader cues and the strong navigation through the pages. Therefore, when putting the content on the website I made sure to use strategies such as bullets, italics, and varying fonts. I used hyperlinks to break up the material and keep the reader interested in the site by creating click throughs. I also made sure to keep the front page as a place to post events, news articles, and statistics. This will connect with the audience and provide a relevant resource on domestic violence.
Not only did I learn a good deal about websites and the online genre, but I also learned about professional communication and nonprofit organizations. By visiting Family Abuse Services and communicating with my site supervisor, I learned the importance of succinct communication. Emails in the professional sphere need to be articulate and to the point because organizations are busy. The website may not be their first priority, and I recognized the need to be articulate and descriptive but not extensive. I also appreciated the chance to see the interior successes and challenges of a non-profit organization because I learned the importance of marketing and professional correspondence with clients, volunteers, and staff. The experience also gave me the appreciation of passing on institutional knowledge and the value in each employee, as employees are valuable resources. Overall, I was fortunate to gain this professional experience and it has strengthened my appreciation and love of nonprofits.
Please click here to visit the FAS website