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International Cooperation

Public Participation Guide: Web Sites

World wide websites provide interested stakeholders with project information, announcements, documents, and opportunities for input or discussion. Web sites allow for the use of a wide variety of media formats, including video. Websites allow stakeholders to share and obtain information quickly, effectively, and at low cost. Websites provide the chance to inform a wide range of people about issues and to invite the website visitors to become involved in a variety of ways.

Websites are rapidly replacing many other forms of project information including information repositories and all types of printed and mailed materials. Websites are more powerful and more flexible than all other forms of public information. However, not all stakeholders have access to the internet and this must be taken into account in its use and application.


  • Provide complete public information about the project
  • Serves as a complete and searchable information repository
  • Used to obtain public input via surveys, questionnaires, or in on-line discussions
  • Reaches large numbers of people with enormous amounts of information
  • Offers a low cost way of distributing all types of documents and media
  • Offers a highly accessible forum for advertising upcoming events and posting project updates
  • Can be used to provide streaming video of events and activities and enable participation of stakeholders in remote locations and those unable to attend meetings or events

Challenges to Consider

  • Many people still do not have access to the web
  • Many people are still not web-literate or have slow access or older computer systems and will not be able to access all available content
  • Its success as a participatory tool is still relatively unknown and cannot completely replace face-to-face interaction
  • The anonymous nature of many internet users presents challenges for honest and open interaction among stakeholders
  • Information overload and poor design can prevent people from finding what they need

Principles for Successful Planning

  • Unless you have the skill and experience, do not create your own project website; find someone with appropriate web design skills
  • Design the “architecture” thoughtfully - all the levels of information, links and illustrations available and necessary to inform and engage the user
  • Conduct background research by exploring the web in your chosen area or field. Discover what works well on other websites, what they cover, what they omit, and use this information to improve your own website
  • Conduct extensive trials of the website before releasing it to the public. People are unlikely to return to your website if they find it difficult to navigate or the information irrelevant. Ensure all links are working, that information is easily found, and that the overall experience works smoothly
  • Launch the website with suitable coverage in the media, in newsletters, and in a public forum
  • Ensure that you have alternative communication options for those who are not web-literate or do not have access to the internet
  • Consider a web address (url) that is simple and memorable
  • Place the website address on all correspondence and other printed material from the organization

Resources Needed


  • Websites require knowledgeable and readily available staff to ensure it is designed well and kept working and up to date


  • Internet server capable of handling expected traffic

Planning Time

  • Designing and populating a large project website can take several months

Implementation Time

  • The web site must be maintained throughout the life of the project
  • Consider creating an archive site once the project is complete to allow future stakeholders to understand how the decision was made

Group Size

  • Unlimited


  • Design and creation of a good web site can be expensive
  • Maintenance costs are minimal but ongoing

Most relevant participation levels:

  • Websites are used at all levels on the IAP2 spectrum.

Explore the full Public Participation Guide.


For additional information on EPA's Public Participation Guide, contact:

Shereen Kandil
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2650R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460