Key Advice Blog

Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

Plain Language on websites, apps, platforms is all about usability. The Plain Language movement – which has been active around the globe for some time now – traditionally focused on the print medium. But, over the last few years a number of resources have popped up that target online communications. Here are three articles and three links to help you successfully integrate plain language into your online projects.

The web technology has moved on from websites to apps and mobile platforms. ClickZ recently ran an article by Melinda Krueger – ‘Jakob Nielsen on Usability for Mobile Sites and Apps. Nielsen said the technology must be easy to touch and manipulate – as users are most often multi-tasking. And, short is not good enough – content must be ‘ultra-short’. Melinda’s article is a good overview, and a good place to build a plain language web assessment plan from.

If you are starting out on a website, or want to see if yours meets plain language guidelines, take a look at the PlainLanguage.gov site’s Planning a Plain Language Website section. They demonstrate what they recommend – so you can have a textual and a visual guide.

On the Results for Canadians blog, Laura’s recent article ‘Measuring plain language on the web’ highlights important aspects, and provides excellent links. Yes, it’s all about  users being able to ‘find, understand and act’ when on a website, but she recommends testing for ‘findability’ as well as usability.

A Google search for plain language on the Web turned up a few resources, with many published before 2,000. Let’s get website plain language back on the table. We need to move faster to keep up with technology.

Key Resources

Book: Plain Language Websites, Plain Language Wizardry.

LinkedIn Plain Language Advocates Group – discussing the creation of Plain Language Day.

PLAIN – Plain Language Association INternational

Which is better? It’s a question many clients ask. It is like asking should I bungee jump or zip wire? It depends on those basic 5 Ws. Who are you making contact with? Why? When? What do you want to do and achieve? Where are the people you want to connect with? Here are what some of the experts are saying about Facebook vs Twitter.

The Social Media Examiner looks at ‘3 Reasons Why Facebook Trumps Twitter for Business’, highlighting ways to effectively manage your Facebook page, fans and friends so you can target your messages and build networks (lists). This information was perfect for me, because like Michael I had stalled out on Facebook.

Mashable tackles the topic head on asking ‘When Do You Use Twitter vs Facebook?’ They point out that while many social media platforms look the same, it is their users who should determine which one you choose to use to publicise an event, research a product, track feedback.

The Marketers on Twitter LinkedIn group Twitter survey results showed majority of people using social media run their posts through more than one platform – Twitter to LinkedIn for example. This can increase brand awareness, site traffic and exposure. But measuring ROI techniques varied. Research like this can help you make informed decisions.

We are getting to the stage of social media use where we need to stand back, analyse how it is working, what benefits we are achieving, and where we can make improvements. Integrated into your marketing strategy, social media activities need to be monitored, managed and manipulated the same as your other components.

Invest a little time, and you will reap the rewards.

Blogging for charity is a clever idea – and this is a clever site. Art graduate and freelancer Chris Watchorn has chosen WordPress as his blog platform for a charity-art fundraiser The 1 of 1 Project – a great way to use your skills, help your community and get noticed.

The 1 of 1 Project is an auction of unique (1 of 1) artist’s designed shoes. The artists have volunteered their time and the shoe companies their shoes and Chris his time. The funds raised are going to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Winnipeg charity. And the Children’s Hospital Young Artists have done their own designer pair of shoes. So has Chris’ Mom Mary.

And of course, there is a video to support the project. This muscle medium is a must for interactivity, involvement and creating interest.

From Chris’s blog:

‘The 1 of 1 Project had two goals in mind. The first was to bring together artists who work in a range of mediums and industries including graphic design, fashion design and illustration. It was an opportunity to bring together some of Winnipeg’s up and coming artists with a blend of established North American talents. The 30 partaking artists span North America including New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Orlando and Portland.

The second goal was to use the donated talents to create unique art pieces that could be used to raise funds for local charity. All proceeds from the event will go towards The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Winnipeg.’

Ok, I have to confess, Chris is my nephew. But, the idea is a clever marketing tool for all involved – the charity, the artists, the shoe company, the platforms, and of course Chris. A lot of hard work, a little technology and hopefully a fantastic result for The Children’s Hospital Foundation. Good luck.

Learning is a life long event – and there’s no better way to learn than in a classroom of new students. I mean learn from the students. Collaborative learning is so inspiring – and nothing lends itself more to it than a topic like web design. Here is what I learned from the students in my Web Design for Business class at Kendal College‘s Creative Arts Centre.

Passion

The students arrived at the first class nine weeks ago with limited exposure to websites and design. But, they had a passion for a topic. Whether it was a business, a service for a client group, a past time, or a promoting themselves to find work – they all embraced the task with passion. It showed in the final results.

Panache

Despite a steep learning curve – image creation, HTML, SEO, and an unknown template, social media sites – they were confident that this was the right media for their message. They tried new things, shared ideas with each other, and when it came to evaluating each other’s sites, they provided helpful ideas – most which were acted upon immediately. It takes a confident person to critique another’s work, and a confident person to receive and accept it.

Perseverance

But, most impressive was their perseverance. They stuck with it. Overcame technical difficulties. Tried different ways until they found the best one for them – and their audience.

Have you got the 3 P’s to build your own website? Of course you do. But, it’s always more fun in a group. If there isn’t a class available, ask your local college to put one on. Or, form a Jelly and work together in your own group. There’s nothing that can make you feel prouder than having your own website – and with all the free platforms out there – WordPress, Blogspot, Weebly – there’s no need to delay any longer. A little passion, panache and perseverance and you’ll be live in no time!

We are nearly at the longest day of the year, and for many it may be long past the time when they should give their web sites an assessment and refresh. It may be a bit like not being able to see the forest for the trees. The best way to get good quality perspective and advice is secure the services of a professional web editor to give you fresh insights. But, whether you are doing it yourself, or drawing up a plan for your advisor to follow, these ten items provide a great guide.

Key Advice’s Top Ten Website Assessment Criteria

1. Effective navigation
2. Efficient – fast links
3. Engaging – look and content
4. E-commerce – functional
5. Encourages interactivity
6. Easy access for all
7. E-branding – strong consistent
8. Expectations met
9. Easy to learn – for admins and users
10. E- media – social, video, audio, pics galleries

A good website assessment involves technical assessment, user surveys and comparison data with similar sites. It looks at all the site design and content management platforms available. Budgets and human resources are evaluated. Then it is all mixed together and a strategy developed. Taking the time to ask users is so valuable. They see the trees and the forest. It’s important to think of website visitors as clients – even if you may not see them face-to-face.

Integrating social media  is a must. Read Top Tips blog highlighting top recommendations made at the 21st Century Communications master class last week, featuring Enterprise Nation’s Emma Jones. Social media is now mainstream marketing – as important as a website itself.

Don’t forget to consult the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, for tips and tools to make sure your website meets universal accessibility standards. One of the most important, and often looked over or given minor emphasis,  is putting your content in plain language to make sure users understand.

Yes, it’s a jungle out there. But like an adventurer, having a mapped out plan is critical. Consulting experts, who have been there before, can generate some excellent tips. And, taking it one step at a time, can help you enjoy the experience and get positive feedback from users. After all, that’s who we are going through this for!

Enterprise Nation‘s Emma Jones (twitter.com/e_nation) hosted and led the four presentations at Furness Enterprise’s 21st Century Communications Master Class workshop today. She talked about the progression from content to community building to commercial relationships. Today’s marketing is all about moving across to peers to get work, not hierarchical like in the past.

Kate Harrison Whiteside

Kate at 21st Century Communications Event

Steve Emecz, head of Business Development at Powa, a commercial web solution for SMEs, set up a commercial site in less than 10 minutes in front of the 60 attendees. He pointed out the importance of a good site search facility, as the majority of visitors come searching for information – like your contact details. Still amazes how many people don’t put names and numbers of staff in their Contact Us section.

Our Social Times‘ Luke Brynley-Jones, a social media consultant, pointed out traditional marketing is no longer ‘working’. New media works because it simply takes word of mouth and trust to the next level – viral. The power lies in people self-selecting. Power to the people.

The North West Evening Mail publishing director Jonathan Lee used videos, produced by the newsroom’s new age journalists,  to prove his point: that it is vitally important that culturally (multimedia) is embedded in the organisation and supported from top to bottom. Describing the business as being at the hub of the community, he illustrated how comments, forums, Twitter, web chats and Facebook mean news is driven by the community not just the company. News conference’s now  begin with a check of all e-media activities first – then what is going in print. They’ve come a long way from the days of black and white printing.

All presenters agreed the key to new media is to use all formats together – print, video, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and any others that work for your business. Social media is here to stay – and all recommended getting into it – before it changes again. And, when it changes again, get on that platform as well. It is the future. But, despite it being new media, the same old marketing principles apply. It is still about connecting with people –  only the medium has changed.

Surfing the Internet has surpassed TV in the ‘how much time spent’ race. What is it about the Internet that has proven so attractive as to push TV off its pedestal?

According to Canada.com’s Ipsos poll, sixty-eight (68%)  per cent of adults with access to the Internet spend more time online than they spend watching television. The survey questioned 24,000 adults in 23 countries, giving it a broad base for its results.

Why is this? Accessibility. Eastern countries rated the highest – and mobile technology will play a huge role in this. Some western countries with easy access to broadband recorded more TV watching than surfing. But, it is significant that countries with great market potential and income growth are hungry for information.

The mobile market is the future. And visuals (video) will become the most sought after format. Internet TV channels are growing faster than weeds in Cumbria – LakesTV, Cumbria Live TV and soon Film4U North. Businesses need to get on the visual band wagon, toot their own horn with video on their websites and think mobile phone (app).

We are into the next phase – and the creative opportunities will be like nothing we have seen before. Marketing departments are already looking at their budgets juggling print and online; don’t forget the video column. It will all add up to successful marketing.


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