By Michael Lynch, NRECA
NRECA is unveiling a reimagined cooperative.com. Official communications will be sent through other channels. But for this CCC newsletter, I thought it might be interesting to share a bit about the new site with you as communicators from my perspective as a CCC and someone who has been deeply involved in the content and project development teams.
You may be thinking, “Didn’t you recently update cooperative.com?” In 2016, we added a public section to the site, gave the home page a facelift, and made the site responsive on mobile devices. That update was an interim step we needed to take before we could focus on bringing you more substantial improvements.
So, why a new cooperative.com? Let me give you a little background.
Branding and Content Strategy
NRECA is actively engaged in an ongoing initiative to update our digital and print properties to fit into a recognizable brand family, as well as to define a coordinated content strategy for them. You may have already noticed some changes from this branding initiative. For instance, NRECA has modified its logo, adopted a brand book, redesigned email newsletters, modernized conference designs, launched a new public website and reworked our social media channels.
On the web side of things, we have been focusing our efforts on supporting two major websites: electric.coop for interested audiences and cooperative.com for invested audiences.
In 2016 we consolidated two public-facing websites to create electric.coop, where we tell interesting and visually-rich stories to the public, media and policymakers about America’s electric cooperatives and the energy industry. Our objective is to highlight co-op expertise and leadership in three areas—energy, technology and rural communities—as well as to demonstrate the value of the cooperative business model.
Electric.coop established a new brand look for NRECA websites that is carrying over to the new cooperative.com. When you move between the two, they should feel like they go together.
That brings us to our retooling of cooperative.com. As mentioned, we've significantly changed the look of the site, making it feel like a part of the overall NRECA brand family. You will be able to see this influence in colors, fonts, use of photography, general page layouts and editorial conventions.
Our overall goal for the new cooperative.com is to make it a fresh and engaging place for co-op staff and directors to connect, grow and get things done. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of some of the improvements you can expect to see in the new cooperative.com:
- There will be significantly more content in front of the security wall on the new cooperative.com to make access easier. Expect to only need to log in for member-only resources and to perform transactions.
- Template designs on the new cooperative.com are being optimized for viewing on phones and tablets, rather than being merely responsive. This mobile focused approach is new for us.
- com’s homepage, which is largely static today, will begin to get regular editorial attention, surfacing useful announcements, news stories and learning opportunities—with an opportunity for some personalization.
- A new “Topics” section will bring together resources related to topics like cybersecurity or distributed energy resources. Each will offer a filterable collection of related news, learning resources, legislative and regulatory materials, as well as technology reports and toolkits.
- Soon after the new cooperative.com goes live, we will be launching our first prototype of professional communities. Think of these as a hybrid of LinkedIn and Facebook groups with robust discussion and document sharing specifically made for co-ops. Our hope is that these online communities will augment and eventually replace many of our listservs.
It’s been a long road to reimagine, redesign and rebuild cooperative.com, and I’m looking forward to everyone seeing it.