Within the next few weeks, the Wisconsin Policy Forum will launch its new website. That should be welcome and exciting news to our supporters for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that you’ll no longer need to comb through the two separate websites of the former PPF and WISTAX to find a report or event announcement.
The foremost reason for my excitement, however, is that this will be another major step forward in realizing the possibilities created by our newly merged organization.
At its simplest level, of course, a website has to look good. Better graphics, fonts, and colors all are important. In addition, it has to allow visitors to easily find and access the information they’re seeking. I’m confident our new website will meet both of those basic tests.
But, as a nonpartisan think tank that is dedicated to widely sharing its work and stimulating thoughtful policy discussion and debate, we need our website to accomplish much more.
First, the website needs to effectively connect our followers to the many forms of media we’ll use to package our research. Those will include expanded videos, data visualization software, and shorter journalistic pieces that will allow people to access and digest our findings and insights through a format that is best for them.
Central to this strategy will be new research pages that will be embedded with video, charts/graphs, summary information, and access to full reports. These will serve as the one stop shop for each of our research topics. In fact, all of our communications strategies, including social media, will be designed to drive people to our report pages, where they will be able to select their preferred means of accessing our information with a click of their mouse.
Perhaps most important, implementation of our flashy new website coincides with our decision to provide free access to all of our publications and products. While that has always been the case for PPF, WISTAX’s subscription model meant you had to pay for most of their publications. WPF will be employing a membership model, instead.
You or your organization will need to be a paid member to receive notifications of report releases and event invitations, to serve on our policy committees, and to attend members-only briefings; but all of our research products (in their various forms) will be available to anyone who visits the website. That’s in keeping with our mission to be Wisconsin’s foremost source of objective policy analysis for any policymaker or citizen who wants to take the time to dive into our research.
Consistent with this approach, we will eliminate the practice of printing and mailing our Focus and Taxpayer publications to paid subscribers early next year. Instead, we will email notifications to our supporters and post the publications on the website, where they’ll be easy to find and easy to download and print if you’re so inclined. We know this will require an adjustment for some, but it goes hand-in-hand with our decision to provide open access.
Look for the new website by the end of July, and please let us know what you think!