As consumers, we are always being told to upgrade our software, be it on our phones, on our computers, on our GPS devices. It has become second nature to click that upgrade button whenever prompted. It’s no wonder then, that we apply this behavior to our websites. More often than not though, the upgrade is not what you expected, so instead of getting a fully functional website, you are left with a site that is sometimes broken. Even though the developers of the website framework have updated their software, many of the custom add-ons and plugins used to enhance your site’s functionality have not been updated and therefore cease to work after upgrading. What can be done?
Our approach has always been a very methodical one. When we work with a client on an upgrade:
- We build a development site that mimics the live website
- We upgrade the website to the latest version of software
- We then go on a functionality fact-finding mission, checking where the site is not performing properly
- Afterwards, we begin to look for solutions, be it a new plugin or modifying the existing one to work as needed
- After a full review of the site by Omni and the client, we take the upgraded site live to production.
Leaving website upgrades to the experts is part of why we, the experts, are here. Here at OmniStudio, we are trained for this, and are in this business to provide our clients with positive results, ensuring both quality and completeness of work. We love beautifully designed, fully functional websites and we get really upset when they break, much the way you feel when your boss tells you, you can’t have a karaoke machine in the office. (No? Just us?). So the next time you’re tempted to press that upgrade button on your website, we recommend taking these three easy steps:
- Take your hand off your mouse or touchpad
- Step away from your desk
- Give us a call…we’ll talk you down.
Name: Emily Rauch
What is your title? Senior Interactive Producer
In 140 characters, what does your job entail? Project management, focusing on interactive web design & development, & fostering strong relationships with clients. #sayingitsuccinctly
How do you commute to work in the morning? It depends on whether it’s a school day or not. On days I go to school after work, I drive to GW University, park my car and walk the few blocks to work. On non-school days, I take the bus in, and focus on listening to my latest podcasts rather than focusing on traffic.
What’s your favorite device and how often do you use it? Definitely my iPhone. I use it countless times every day. I not only check email, text my contacts and use the phone, I am addicted to the following apps: Spotify for music, This American Life for podcasts, Twitter, Slate, Daily Beast and Huffington Post for News and of course Facebook to keep updated on friends and family.
Which social platform do you use most often? I use Twitter every day to see what’s happening out in the world. The platform amazes me in how it’s been used to break news and increase engagement. Who knew that a Pakistani’s tweet about choppers flying low over Abbotabad unknowingly broke the news about Bin Laden’s death; or that my frustrated tweet about my cancelled flight on American Airlines would get the company responding and tweeting with me to help resolve the problem. It is a type of engagement that is so powerful and I love it because of that.
What do you like best about your job? I really enjoy working with people. Every day I get to interact with designers, developers and clients, each bringing a different perspective to a project. These different perspectives make every day different and unknown—I love that.
What do you hope to accomplish in the first year? I would like to work on a website that, through the use of new technology and functionality, strengthens our client’s mission and challenges our skills and knowledge. I would then like to submit that site for a Webbie Award, to be considered in the Non-Profit category.
What cause are you passionate about? I am equally passionate about two causes. First, civil rights for all citizens, which I believe right now translates to marriage equality. You see certain states truly fighting for the rights of their citizens and I believe that we as a country can’t preach freedom to other nations when we do not afford the same rights to all of our citizens. I am hopeful that in my lifetime I will see these rights be afforded to all.
Second, access to affordable mental health. Many of our citizens suffer from mental health issues ranging from PTSD, to depression to bipolar disorder and more. So many of these issues can be debilitating, and we all could benefit greatly by making treatment options more available and affordable.
March is Women’s History Month, and I often like to use this time to take the temperature of women’s progress toward equality in society. The results are so often a mixed bag. Women earn more bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men, but still make up less than 20% of Congress and C-Suite positions in Fortune 500 companies. We’ve come a long way but we still have progress to make. While I think we will continue to move forward in some of the less gender-segregated fields, a report by a client recently reminded me of some of the areas we still have much ground to make up.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a report on women in STEM programs and fields, presenting a broad collection of data from a long period of time that tracks women’s progress or backtracking in key areas. Sadly, while women in school and beyond are slowly making gains in some fields of science, we’re actually moving backwards in computer science fields—one of the areas of the economy with the most media attention because of future potential job opportunities.
This back tracking is disturbing, and could in some ways be linked to the ongoing problem of sexism in this field, as recently made evident through Adria Richards and her experience with sexism at a tech conference. This may be one of the cultural influences subverting progress, but I think there may be others too.
Because it’s Women’s History Month, I started to think through the women in science I could name. Marie Curie came to mind, and then I was a bit stumped. Until today. Fortunately for all of us, we lack names of past women in science, not because they aren’t there, but because we don’t know about them—yet. Today I came across a Slate article about a project with a GREAT title: “Grandma Got STEM.” Looking to fight the stereotype that women aren’t in science fields and grandma doesn’t understand science, Rachel Levy has embarked on an internet mission to collect the stories of “grandmas” in science. This beautiful project is both oral history and educational, and it captures those stories you may never have heard to show the many women who are and have been in STEM fields. Please consider sharing your story this Women’s History Month.
We have come a long was from the first pages built and shared on the internet. Remember when you had to type in “Click Here” to guide users to clicking on a link if they wanted to open and read a report? Now everyone knows what underlined text means on a website.
Design for the web continues to evolve, which means that eventually in the cycle of every organization there comes a time when the website needs to be revisited. Don’t worry! We can help you with that!
You should first figure out what is and is not working on your current website, and not from the perspective of a dedicated Board Member, who, for example, has an affinity for a terrible shade of green, or navigation ideas that are not in sync with your audience.
Here’s what you need to do. First draft some questions like the user experience exercise below. You’ll want to run a few tests to make sure that the tasks you want site visitors to accomplish can be completed quickly and intuitively.
1. Look around this page and tell me what you make of it? Just think out loud a little.
2. Who do you think owns this site?
3. Who is the target audience for this site?
4. What do you think you can do on this site?
5. What do you think is the purpose of this website?
6. How would you donate to this organization? (go through the steps on the site to see how long it takes; mark down the time)
7. Where would you go to read this organization’s latest content?
8. How would you find information about a particular staff member?
9. Where would you go to take action on a campaign or read a recent report?
10. How would you RSVP to an upcoming event?
11. What social media channels is this organization operating on? How do you know?
Then, invite three to six volunteers to be your testers. Lure them with cookies, gift cards, gratitude, or donuts—all of the above work. These volunteers, either non-website staff members or entirely external volunteers (your mom, your best friend, your uncle) will take the brief test of your site while you observe them.
As you run through the questions with your volunteers, you’ll begin to see what may not be working for current site users. On top of that you have data to show your Board Member, helping her to see that people think the color green means you’re an environmental group, and that they didn’t know you had a Facebook page so they couldn’t RSVP for your annual fundraiser. Tons of potential donors missed teachers singing karaoke to help purchase new books for students (they didn’t even know you had events or lobbied Congress on education reform).
Armed with this information, you are ready to take the first step in redesigning your website, or you have learned that your website works really well for visitors and you have succeeded in your quest to communicate your mission online. Either way congrats, and let us know how you did!
Source: We Are Social
Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms are not just social, they are global. Even though US users tend to make up the largest proportion of social media users on these and other sites, the internet makes reaching a global community more and more feasible. While attending a workshop hosted by Social@Ogilvy on this topic, I was struck by the fact that global social media forces brands and organizations to re-examine their cultural awareness. The benefit for marketers is that they can micro-target culturally relevant messages to specific communities, even segmenting within countries. The benefit to society is that we will all learn to be more conscientious and respectful of the differences between cultures (a win in the mind of this progressive, inclusive thinker).
Respect for cultures comes from two factors in social media. The first is that messages have to resonate. The example used on the panel was Oreo’s work to translate the ‘’dunking cookies into milk” idea to some Asian societies where this behavior is not native. Oreo had to change not only the messaging but also the product to attempt to gain traction with the pitch. And when brands make mistakes, the power is with the people. Sports Illustrated learned this when the swimsuit edition featured white models decked out in what was assumed to be “tribal” or “ethnic” accessories framed by African “natives” in the deserts of Africa. The people, in this case, mounted a great social media backlash against this stereotypical presentation that was culturally insensitive, and Sports Illustrated was forced to respond.
Social media offers the people an opportunity to respond to offensive marketing, forcing brands to learn, which forces all of us to be more aware of and sensitive to individual and unique cultures. It’s almost as though social media is leading its own progressive revolution.
Marketing agencies and branded organizations presenting at and attending Social Media Week DC all seemed to agree on three best practices for social media:
1. Select the correct platforms for your content: If you don’t have a lot of image assets or your story is not told through images, don’t use Pinterest. If you do not have the technical capacity to produce or purchase audio content, don’t start a podcast. Focus on platforms where it makes sense to host your content and where there is a community in which your content resonates.
2. Maintain regular activity on your chosen platforms: Twitter is meant to be updated often, and daily Facebook posts have become the norm for brands on that platform. Make sure you have the resources to maintain activity on the platforms you use and do your best to build a strategy that does not neglect your listeners on those platforms. Unless you’ve given up on a channel, don’t go silent on it.
3. Be authentic in your voice and content: People follow your organization or product on social media because they like it and want to engage with it. If a children’s museum used the same tone on Facebook that staff would use in a report to the board, audiences may find that tone to be too professional and caged, and not authentic enough to be trusted. Make sure your voice on all channels is authentic and representative of the brand, not the individual staff member or a voice used for other purposes. The more authentic and familiar the voice, the more likely audiences are to engage with the channel, and that will increase awareness, sales, and most of all trust. What do you think?
If you’re like me, you’re still recovering from and trying to absorb and sort all the content shared during Social Media Week last week. There was so much information and so many ideas presented at each session that I found myself consistently over-stimulated, but in an exciting way. As I wait for all of the ideas to gel, I wanted to say something about all of the topics touched upon and items learned.
Here are three of my take-aways from Social Media Week:
1. QR Codes and Non-Profits: The commercial world seems to have written off the utility of QR Codes for their simplicity, lack of flexibility, and inability to facilitate instant sales. But this technology should be viewed as potentially highly successful for non-profits if used correctly. Here are the ingredients:
Responsive design website OR mobile site
Mobile friendly donation landing pages
Print collateral for events
Advertising budget for signage
Here’s the recipe: Once you’ve ensured your donation landing pages and other links to your website are optimized for mobile, incorporate QR codes linking to those pages into print materials and collateral for events, fundraisers, and advertising signage. Then, rather than handing out excessive pieces of paper that may be tossed before reading, you can provide QR Codes on smaller documents, giving your constituents access to information on the go and the ability to contribute on their way home from your successful event.
2. Test the Waters: Whether you’re an expert in the field (Facebook itself, Edelman, etc.) or relatively new to social media (many Government agencies, for example) the theme that resonated last week was that it is ok for your brand to test the waters in real time, in public.
This idea first came up during the NPR session on February 19th, when presenters indicated that NPR’s Google+ page, use of a platform called rebelmouse, and other efforts were simply tests—they were put out there by staff to test the power and utility of a social media platform. These experiments were tests to figure out which platforms would perform better or worse as conveyers of NPR and their partners’ content.
NPR was not the only brand discussing live testing of platforms. Everyone from Ogilvy to AARP to museum and product representatives admitted to testing various platforms and letting go of activity on those that seemed to fail. The communities on various platforms will accept the test, and you will know if those communities miss you or didn’t really find your content engaging in the first place.
3. Google+: There was a lot of love in every room for Facebook and Twitter, and shout-outs to Tumblr, podcasts, YouTube, and other tools and channels. But when it came to discussions of Google+, most presenters and audience members tended to laugh. Some believe Facebook makes Google+ redundant, while others (especially agencies and large brands) use it to maintain circles and promote endless amounts of content. But the overall sense that I got from workshop after workshop was that people recognize the necessity of participating in Google+ for SEO purposes, but otherwise do not really seem to like it, understand it, or care to engage with it. Sorry Google!
The heart of every social media campaign is its content. Increasingly, audiences are tuning out what doesn’t ring true to them or strike a personal chord. Key resonators for people—writing style , entertainment value, and emotional connection—are crucial to every aspect of online material.
At one of last week’s Social Media workshops that ran throughout DC, Rohit Bhargava, the author of “Likenomics,” said content creators should emulate screenwriters. “Read every word you write out loud,” he advised. Do the words sound true? Do you hear a person talking and not a jargoned sales pitch? Try
it out. Plain English and a conversational approach “inject more humanity” into your communications and this builds trust, Rohit said.
And curators of social media content are “king,” according to Rohit. Like traditional magazine or news editors, their talent in selecting, refining, and packaging material for specific audiences becomes more critical as everyone’s time for consuming content continues to shrink.
I think one of the most creative curators today is Maria Popova, the publisher of BrainPickings She weaves together stimulating excerpts—words and images— from art, history, literature and philosophy. Her carefully selected morsels are the kind you want to savor with a good cup of coffee, or maybe a 12-year-old single malt. As our time becomes more scarce and valuable, will we gravitate towards meaningful collections like this blog?
Another way to capture and distribute good content is through podcasts. Richard Harrington is an expert podcast producer. He led a workshop at the National Press Club’s “Get It Online” series the closing day of Social Media Week.
Podcasting is a 15-year-old technology that hasn’t changed in 10 years, Richard said. That makes it stable, well tested, and reliable.
Richard’s company, Rhed Pixel, helps organizations produce podcasts, which can be video or simply audio, like a radio show. As the use of mobile devices has skyrocketed, podcasts are making a comeback. Think about airplanes, the gym, the metro…places where internet connections are not reliable. Podcasts are the perfect medium for how-tos and longer format audio and video programs.
I love NPR’s Fresh Air, but when I can’t listen at its usual air time, which is 99% of the time, I know the archived shows are available as podcasts. One of my favorite Fresh Air broadcasts was Terry Gross’ interview with Maurice Sendak. A wonderful exchange, filled with words of wisdom that will be with us forever.
The elevation of content and curation as the most important elements in social media is good news for our industry. Most of us were drawn to communications because of the connection we felt with words, photography, design—the pleasure of presenting information in a way that would draw people in and keep them coming back. Thoughtful time was taken in the way we brought everything together as content producers.
One of my favorite songwriters, Stevie Wonder, talks about his album, “A Time to Love” in this NPR podcast. He says to composers, “take responsibility for your lyrics,” because their meaning can change the world. Let’s say the same for our messages online. Take good care of your content, it’s the soul of social media.
Last night’s State of the Union (SOTU) address joined a growing number of national events that was critiqued, promoted, and shared via social networks—especially Twitter. Twitter conversations for major events, discussions tracked along a hashtag, have increasingly become as entertaining as the event itself. Now with promoted tweets, major events like the Super Bowl and the SOTU offer marketers the opportunity to promote products and raise awareness for issues and ideas at a moment when they know people will be paying attention.
But the easy access to large audiences does not necessarily guarantee the promoted tweet will pay off. Some tweets last night seemed aptly timed for the SOTU. The NRA promoted a tweet encouraging Twitter users to call their Congressperson and demand a rejection of the President’s gun control agenda. Some promoted tweets seemed to directly relate to the section of the speech where the tweet appeared or were at least very relevant to the content and topics. For example, Americans for Prosperity purchased a promoted tweet supporting their policies almost in response to the SOTU as it happened (see image below).
But some tweets really missed their mark. Promoted tweets encouraging users to tune into the SOTU “tonight” were seen in the middle of the speech, and some marketers promoted legislation and products that did not even relate to the content of the speech. Discounted flight sales and conference registration were the types of promoted tweets that really missed the mark of an audience focused on discussing the SOTU.
While some marketers capitalized on Twitter’s massive conversation (an estimated 1.36 million tweets were issued, according to Twitter), others fell short. In the aftermath of what could be called a national tweetathon, a few off-message promoted tweets may not seem like that big of a deal, but what is critical is that these brands risk losing the trust of their buyers by interrupting a conversation and completely changing the topic.
Promoted tweets, when used correctly, can effectively draw attention to the item or topic being promoted. For marketers willing to gamble, promoted tweets can be a fantastic advertising tool. Impressions are free and the tweets are priced at Cost-per-Engagement (reTweets, clicks, replies, and favorites; estimated at costing between $.50 and $5 per engagement). But buyers must beware that they can just as easily damage their brand as promote it.
OmniStudio is excited to announce the 4.1 release of Mag+! The latest iteration of this beautiful and flexible publishing tool allows for clients to think outside the box of standard periodical publication and develop a mobile app that meets all their needs.
- Updated features will allow users to click on jump links
- Horizontal scrolling is no longer required
- Pinch and zoom accessibility for photos
- Maximizes the utility of retina screens
- Dual layout, so users can rotate devices without losing functionality
The updates to Mag+ make it an even better option for organizations of all kinds to develop and host beautiful mobile apps in a diverse array of tablets.
Mag+ is a streamlined production system that integrates with Adobe InDesign to bring media-rich publications to millions of readers who now turn to their mobile phones and tablets for news, feature stories and the pleasure of viewing beautifully designed pages.
Omni and Mag+ are partnering to offer a smooth path for publishing to iPads and other mobile devices.As a marketing partner with Mag+, Omni has put this new tool through its paces to make sure it can meet the requirements of our customers’ publications.
Recently we developed walking tours for exhibits, integrated video, and installed data charts that enrich materials that existed previously only in print. The tool works incredibly efficiently for offices and departments that need to disseminate large documents and reports but are limited by low printing budgets. Apps produced in Mag+ are distributed through the Apple App store, so reports and information have the capacity to reach a much wider audience than paper publications.
For more information about Omni’s Mag+ services, please contact Elisabeth Crum.