Online Engagement

Online approaches quickly are becoming commonplace for most engagements, regardless of scope or scale. Most engagements include both online and in-person techniques to maximize stakeholder accessibility; unfortunately, many people believe they need to decide between online or in-person engagement. This is usually not true! In fact, when a proponent makes this choice they create avoidable risk.

Most engagements benefit from a blended approach of using both in-person and online engagement techniques. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to engage with highly-impacted or interested stakeholders, as well as those who are low-to-moderately impacted or interested.

Two definitions are required here. Online engagement techniques provide a variety of capabilities to interact with stakeholders online, as detailed below. These techniques have different features. An online survey technique, for example, includes features such as ranked-order questions, multiple-choice questions, open-response questions, and skip logic, to name a few.

Online engagement platforms are bundles of different techniques marketed under different brands, such as PlaceSpeak, StakeTracker, Boréalis, EngagementHQ, and many others. D+A is not tied to any one platform. Rather, we assess continuously the merits of a variety of different platforms so that we can offer our clients a wide range of online techniques.

Our engagement specialists know how to use a wide range of engagement techniques and platforms. We understand how they can best support your engagement; moreover, we review enhancements to online engagement platforms regularly. We can recommend what platform, or combination of platforms, can best support your engagement. As with every engagement, the online techniques selected must meet the needs of the decision maker, the pending decision, and stakeholders. We complete a needs analysis prior to selecting techniques, whether online or in-person. Form always follows function.

Below are a number of online engagement techniques to give you a sense of the variety of online techniques available to support your engagement.

Online Engagement Techniques: Online Engagement Platform Features:
1.  Blogs / storytelling

2.  Discussion paper / wikis

3.  Public submissions

4.  Survey questions, such as dropdown, radio button, checkboxes, suburb, likert, number, ranking, single-line text, essay, open-ended

5.  Polls: opinion polling and straw polling

6.  Deliberative polling

7.  Ideation / crowdsourcing

8.  Panel-based discussions

9.  Petitions

10.  Voting

11.  Interactive mapping / pin drops

12.  Preference and priorities

13.  Investments

14.  Budget making

15.  Discussion forums (linear, synchronous, asynchronous, threaded)

16.  Visualization

17.  Gamification

1.  Site administration

2.  Participant registration options

3.  Project tagging

4.  Geofencing

5.  Results analysis: geocoding, spatial segmentation, desegregation of personal data, cohorts of interest, site lead generation, etc.

6.  Social media integration

7.  Video and podcast plug-ins

8.  Information resource library / hub

9.  Questions and answers

10.  Static webpage additions

11.  Customized branding: deep branding vs. simple branding

12.  Accessibility compliance standards (i.e. WCAG 2.0)