CALP Websites: How does yours measure up?

Tanis Harms, Community Learning Network

0 0 15 February 2022


Help Please!

This fall, a CALP staff member asked me: “We are in the process of revamping our website, and were wondering if you had any suggestions of some good ones that you have come across?” How do we design a website that communicates “Welcome, come on in and have a look around! We’re glad you’re here…feel free to stay awhile or come back again when it works!” And is the message targeted to the community members we are trying to connect with? (Adult Foundational Learners, Volunteers, Community Partners...) The reality is that digital communications reach many community members, and having an online presence is a very valuable investment of time and energy for CALP organizations.

As I pondered how to help this staff member, I remembered the Plain Language checklist. This resource was introduced to me by Terri Peters (former CLN Regional Support Staff, now with TLP Training). A few years ago, I enjoyed facilitating a Plain Language Marketing workshop with Terri. The practicality of the tips that Terri gave, and the checklist she used for analyzing documents, brochures, and other written text in order to implement plain language principles was incredibly helpful.

What is Plain Language? Well, basically it’s sharing information in a way that is quickly and easily understood by the audience the information is intended for. It’s simply communicating in a clear way with the words, visuals, and design used in your document, or in this case – your website.

Checklist for Blog

Checklist: How does your website measure up?

After reviewing the original plain language checklist, I adapted so CALP organizations could use it as they create or update their own websites.

 website checklist

Download a copy of the checklist. 

Why not go through the checklist on your own, or with others in your organization, to see how many “yes” boxes you can check off for your organization’s website? 

Looking for Ideas and Examples?

Top Rated

After a quick peek at some CALP websites from across the province, here are a few I found that you can check out to see how they are implementing plain language principles:

  • Vision Learning Centre, Peace River: 
    • I like how their home page and subsequent pages have enough important information included, without overwhelming the reader with content
    • The layout includes lots of pictures and white space which makes it easy to view
  • Camrose & Area Adult Learning Council, Camrose:
    • The icons on the home page are very helpful for navigating to what you need/want to know
    • I like the bullet (checkmark) list too, which makes it easy to see what they offer in point form
  • Wetaskiwin Community Learning Program, Wetaskiwin: 
    • What a great use of headings (bolded and clearly laid out from other information)
    • The font style and size used is really easy to read
  • Valleyview Community Learning Council, Valleyview: 
    • This CALP recently invested in creating a video which they will be adding to their website soon. Here’s a link to it on the Portal if you’re interested: 
    • Videos are a great low-literacy strategy to use to share information (and usually they peak interest in viewers too!)
  • Hanna & District Association for Lifelong Learning, Hanna:  
    • The pictures of their staff on the first page is very welcoming, and I love the surprise of what I found when I scrolled down their home page and hovered over each staff member’s picture!

I’d love to hear how your organization has intentionally designed your website so that it is easy to read and navigate by those whom you are seeking to attract. Please share your tips and tricks below!

Tanis Harms
CLN West-Central RSS

PS – If you are looking for more information on Plain Language, you will definitely want to look at the new e-Learning on using plain language to create instructional materials.


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