I was struck this weekend by a beautiful metro car ad featuring the Partners in Preservation campaign to support 24 historical places in the DC metro area. My interest was naturally piqued by the combination of historic sites (I love history, worked for a museum) and social media engagement (I may or may not be completely in love with Twitter). This campaign has it all for me, the user.
According to the sign and responsively designed website (perfect for my mobile viewing as I continued to my metro station destination), I can engage via social media, on the website, and by visiting the sites and submitting photos of them in order to help my favorite site compete for and win preservation grants. Oh, and there’s a sweepstakes in it for me, the user, as well. Brilliant!
Here’s what I love about this campaign:
1. Marketing – Historic sites are supported when visitors engage with them and about them on social media. While the user is motivated by this competition, you are also doing excellent work helping to spread the word about these great historic sites. Your act of digital advocacy just told all your followers about a great space in the DC metro area, and now a few more people know about it and will visit, compared with before the campaign launched. Historic sites have chronically small budgets and few staff, so they really appreciate the free marketing you provide for them. Plus it’s User Generated Content coming from you, the visitor, so people are more likely to trust it.
2. Fundraising – And if the free advertising wasn’t good enough for these sites, how fantastic is it that there are some preservation grants waiting for the winners? This funding opportunity incentivizes the sites and staff to get engaged on social media, while incentivizing those of us highly competitive people to vote for and engage with their favorite sites. You as a user are doing a philanthropic deed and it’s not even costing you anything. Great, right?
3. Online Engagement – In addition to the above two points, I am simply thrilled to see this kind of online campaign. When funding partners and good causes can come together, connecting various places to support, online and outreach tools, and incentives, something beautiful can come of it. I look at this campaign as a model for other organizations to investigate. One voice may not be enough, but many voices with powerful allies can help your organization make an impact. This campaign is yet another indicator that advocacy, education, and fundraising will continue to shift to online platforms, so if you are not already on social media and considering digital outreach strategies, now is definitely the time.
Are you looking to organize a campaign like this but are not sure where to start? Are you still trying to build a following on social channels? Wherever you are in your digitization process, let us know. We can help.
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!
As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air, and we at OmniStudio want to express our love for beautiful web design. Open source tools like WordPress, combined with easy sharing plugins for social media posting, make it possible to build a website that you and your visitors will love. Here are some of our favorite features of websites to love.
Blog – Blogs are beautiful tools. Not only can authors and thought leaders quickly share and promote ideas, opinions, and reactions, but blogging goes above and beyond page content. Search engines love the kind of fresh and new content offered by blogging, which in turn will bring more visitors to the site. As content is king in the digital world, blogs are an excellent platform for consistently producing and sharing new content on websites.
Share Features – Implicit in any new site design is the functionality for easy social sharing. Sharing tools help visitors spread their love of content on websites and blogs. These features also allow for simple cross-promotion of a site’s content, so once a page is updated or a blog written, staff and visitors alike have a one-click mechanism for disseminating content and messages across social platforms.
Graphics – It goes without saying that we love graphic design here at the Studio. Strong visuals can engage and inspire visitors and add that emotional connection that can more strongly convey a message than plain words. With the growing use of Pinterest, Instagram, and other platforms, social sharing of images and infographics makes it even more valuable to incorporate strong visual content to any website.
Responsive Design – Show your love for the visitor by developing a website that adapts to the device they choose to view it on. Responsive design offers the flexibility to view sites on tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops without disrupting the visitor’s experience. All the functionality at the click of a mouse or tap of a finger!
One-Click Action – Whether you’re selling something, collecting donations, or asking for petition sign-ons, make it simple. The fewer steps, the higher the conversion rate for visitors who want to take a quick 30-second break from their email to send a message to their representative or purchase the latest e-book. And of course, visitors will love the simplicity of one-click operations so much that they may share it on social platforms – what’s not to love here?!
What are some of your favorite website features? What websites do you love?
(Icon courtesy of Smashing Magazine)
Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and known as the “Queen of the Net,” produces reports on internet trends, each one shedding a great deal of light on online behaviors. One of the resounding truths evident throughout her 88-slide presentation is that not only is digital use in everyday lives increasing, but mobile traffic is growing too. To share some examples, Meeker found that 29% of adults in the U.S. own a tablet or eReader, up from 2% in 2009. Globally, mobile online traffic accounts for 13% of all internet traffic, compared with 1% in 2009.
And it’s not just because we live in a technological world where users need mobile phones and other devices to produce work products and communicate with staff and constituents. Users want to use these devices. According to the “Queen,” in 2012, 48% of children in the U.S. wanted an iPad for Christmas, while 36% wanted a Mini, and this probably had nothing to do with the fact that these items are easier for Santa to carry (and hide).
Meeker paints a picture here, making it clear that content needs to be accessible online, but it also needs to be accessible on mobile devices. Mobile applications can offer a solution for organizations looking to tap into the digital world. But sometimes this option is not the most affordable, and sometimes organizations have content that is not optimized for mobile apps. Similarly it may be cost prohibitive for organizations to build a mobile site in addition to the site they already have.
For organizations with limited resources and a desire to connect with mobile users, consider a website redesign that incorporates responsive design. This type of website sits on the internet but can easily be viewed from both a smaller iPhone screen and from a regular computer screen. Fundraise.com is a simple example. You can view this link on a mobile device, or just play around with the width of your browser to see how the content responds. The Boston Globe works as an incredibly robust example with lots of content and several columns.
While responsive design is not the same as building a mobile website, it is a great solution for organizations looking to offer content across a variety of screen sizes.
Contact Elisabeth Crum, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information about what your organization can do with a responsive design site.
From store locators to Google navigation tools, interactive maps have become an integral part of our daily lives.
Maps are also appearing more frequently on organization websites. Visualizing information in a geographical framework can be a powerful tool for advocacy, government and educational groups. And, in the past couple years, programming tools for online maps have become more accessible, especially for experienced web designers.
These three maps present complex information in an easy-to-absorb and engaging way. They are good models for maps that encourage user interaction, and ones that will likely draw visitors back again for updates.
1. 100 Years of Non-Renewable Energy Disasters
Counterspill’s map is the main image on their site, featured prominently on their home page. Color-coded circles show the location, type and size of energy disasters worldwide. Viewers can hover over the circles either on the map or in the timeline to see the company involved in the disaster and the date of its occurrence. This is a good example of a map that integrates timelines and geography to show event locations over time. It also invites users to interact more directly with its data by providing filters to reveal more details. Counterspill’s map also has a slide feature that takes you deeper into the topic with videos and disaster profiles.
2. China’s Global Investment Tracker
Showing international investments China has made since 2005, this Heritage Foundation map makes it easy to compare data between countries, and to see the types of industries associated with each location. What’s interesting about this map is the way that statistical information changes in the bar graphs below the map when you select a specific country. For example, when you click Canada, all other totals disappear in the bar graphs, so you can see exactly what was invested there each year. You can also click on a sector in the figure and only that industry will appear on the map. Other helpful features include instant sharing to your social networks and the ability to download the data in spreadsheet format. This is a Flash-based map, so you won’t be able to view it on your iPhone or iPad. But with new development technology, this type of map could be built to be mobile ready.
3. The Geography of Government Benefits
Do you want to see how benefit income such as Social Security and Medicare has changed during the past 40 years across the U.S.or in your own hometown? This New York Times presentation is a good example of what can be shown by tying data to a county-structured map. Hovering over any county brings up a small line graph showing the change in all government benefits for county citizens compared to the U.S. total from 1969 to 2009. Counties are shaded with color from light to dark indicating the percentage of personal income that comes from government benefits. Viewers can instantly see which areas of the country receive more benefits totally and for which specific types. For example, if you click on the tab for unemployment insurance you’ll see that this benefit is highly concentrated in the Midwest and West coast. Veterans’ benefits are concentrated around military bases, and Medicare income is greatest in retirement communities. This map is a useful planning tool for organizations that serve seniors and the military.
If these examples spark ideas for you organization, or if you have other favorite maps, we’d love to hear about them. There are many tools available for the creation of maps like these, but their application requires the talent of experienced graphic designers to achieve the best results.
Additional resources and ideas for creating interactive maps:
• Maps in Modern Web Design
• TileMill and Mapbox
• Fusion Chart Maps
• Google Mapping Tools
• Inspiring Map Infographics
For more info on OmniStudio’s interactive capabilities, please contact Eileen Kessler, email@example.com
It’s a new year, so how will your nonprofit communicate to constituents? According to this infographic by nonprofitmarketingguide.com, most nonprofits believe their websites will be most important for their communication efforts in 2012, followed by e-mail newsletters. What does this mean? It’s clear that nonprofits still consider their websites to be the main form of communication with their constituents, so if you’re in the same boat, makes sure you keep your website content fresh, dynamic and interesting so that people want to come back to see what’s new. As I always preach, images, video and other visual elements are key to capturing and keeping interest. A blog is also a good way to keep content fresh — updating weekly will keep people coming back to see what insights you’re sharing about your nonprofit’s cause and the work your organization is doing.
According to a recent study, iPads are driving more web traffic than iPhones—a trend that organizations should keep in mind when thinking of interesting ways to reach out to more constituents using the devices they seem to be using.
Optimizing websites for mobile consumption is a good first step. Because of the iPad’s larger screen size, it’s more conducive to reading text, viewing images on larger scale, and watching videos than the iPhone, so including this type of content on the mobile site (while keeping it simple, as is customary with mobile sites) is a good idea.
Also, if a large portion of web traffic is coming through the iPad, apps are another feature organizations can consider. Apps that may not work on the iPhone because of its small screen size may be better suited for the iPad, so you can get creative when it comes to thinking about presenting your information in a more visual way.
Here is the Mashable article that has more details about the study: http://mashable.com/2011/10/11/ipad-web-traffic-2/
Be sure to consider not only the content that you put out in the Internet ether, but also how your viewers and readers are accessing that information.