ReliefWeb: Vision and Strategy

Originally published


The global humanitarian community is facing evolving challenges to finding timely and reliable information on natural disasters and other crises. With more than 8 million unique users annually, and with a proven business model, ReliefWeb is uniquely positioned as the platform on which OCHA can grow and expand its communications with the external humanitarian community. But what does it look like to take ReliefWeb from its current state to its future vision—to serve as a “onestop shop” for the global humanitarian community?

This document provides an overview of the background that has led to change at ReliefWeb, and it outlines a strategy designed to make that change a reality. It starts with a shift in thinking.

To date, “ReliefWeb” has been viewed as synonymous with its core product: Moving forward, ReliefWeb needs to be viewed as a brand that encompasses a portfolio of products— being just one of them. For a number of reasons including the impact of emerging technologies and the variety of information needed by the humanitarian community, meeting all the information needs of the humanitarian community will not be possible through one monolithic website. At the same time, for the sake of consistency, credibility and impact, it is important that users understand related products as being part of ReliefWeb.

For those other, non-“core” projects, a new initiative called “ReliefWeb Labs” will be created to provide an on-ramp for new ideas and innovative projects. These will likely exist as separate applications at their outset. The “Labs” moniker will denote pilot projects as experiments, simultaneously drawing attention to ReliefWeb’s role as an innovator for the humanitarian community and providing a buffer against criticism if new ideas fail. Products developed as part of ReliefWeb Labs will either flourish and develop their own support, become fully integrated with, or be decommissioned after a pilot phase if further investment is not merited.

This new product development strategy will be guided by a clear “Commander’s Intent”—a set of definitive statements about ReliefWeb’s overall objectives that remain true at all times and help provide focus as new opportunities emerge or new stakeholders get involved. Combined with user personas that capture the essence of ReliefWeb’s target audiences, future product decisions will be guided with a strong sense of principles and goals that the product should accomplish for specific audiences.

To accompany this high level strategy, ReliefWeb has developed an actionable plan for accomplishing this new vision for ReliefWeb. Communicated as a “product roadmap,” the plan outlines initiatives and specific goals to accomplish over the new three years to incrementally take ReliefWeb toward its goal of being a “one-stop shop” for the global humanitarian community.
In sum, this document provides the justification for a new strategy, an outline of that strategy, and a plan to guide it. ReliefWeb has a compelling vision for its future, and this document is a major step toward bringing that vision to life.