Key Advice Blog

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

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After joining Iris Meck Communications Inc providing event media support and follow-up – print, video, podcast, web, e-news – and having organized a few events myself – there are some behind the scenes tips that can help you achieve success and have people talking positively about the service you provided.

1. Treat every attendee as a valued customer

The registration area is your front door. Welcome people in personally. Help them feel comfortable – find their name tag, the event room, the facilities. Make the registration area streamlined, facilitating flow through to the event itself. Direct people to any support or promotional tools you are handing out. The best way to achieve all this is to be organized: arrive well ahead of the opening time, have the area clean and staffed and have your own name tag on so people know who you are. Be at the registration area as the event ends. You can gain valuable event feedback directly and indirectly.

2. Speakers and hosts are your VIPs

VIPs should have one person assigned to them. Know their travel, meal and presentation technical needs. Ensure they receive information before the event, have all needs assessed well before their presentation and have post-event travel arrangements in place – like a ride or a taxi to the airport. Escort them to their presentation room, ensure they have the tech support they need and introduce them to key hosts and guests at the event. Always get their permission for quoting, filming or posting their information online. Ask if a copy of their presentation is available for the media. Follow up with a personal gift and thank-you after the event.

3.  Making the most of the media opportunities

Today’s media are busy, inundated with emails and have to feed info into a variety of platforms. Invite the media well ahead of time so they can put your event in their diary. Send them a newsworthy release ahead of the event – include links to social media sites, websites, videos and podcasts, and photos. In the pre-event reminder email provide the schedule of the whole event, and indicate clearly who they can contact to set up interviews and get at-event assistance. Have media-specific folders with key information at the registration desk. Provide all media with your prompt post event news release – and include or provide links to video, podcast and photographic resources. Follow up on the media coverage after the event to track for yourself and your client – in print, on websites, search Twitter and Facebook for mentions, set up a Google alert.

4. Expect the unexpected

No matter how many boxes you ticked, how many meetings you’ve had, something will always go wrong. Brainstorm with your team before the event things that might happen and how you will deal with them. Know your facility coordinator on a first name basis – and find out who’s supporting you each day of the event. Have key phone numbers in your cell phone. Check the tech support – are they on duty, accessible all day. Be prepared for delays in arrivals, last-minute schedule changes for key guests, food and drink issues, special needs. Have a trouble-shooter on the team who can track, deal with and make post event recommendations on all the challenges you faced.

5. Post Event Brainstorm

Within two days of the event, pull the whole team together – a representative of the client, your team, an attendee – and give the event organization a thorough evaluation. Don’t hang on to what went wrong – rather – brainstorm ideas on how to make the next one event even better. Document and implement.

A successful event is a feather in your hat. Wear it proudly. But remember, each event is unique and requires your full attention from start to finish.

Event Education.com

Having relocated from the UK to Canada I find I am using Skype and FaceTime about 3 times as much as my landline for personal calls. But, what are businesses using? And, why aren’t they using visual conference calling more? This branch of the social media tree is powerful, persuasive and cost saving – with many of the options free.

Mashable profiles all four, recognizing freeconferencecalling.com as a starting point.

Then they analyze Rondee, Wiggio, GroupMe and Google Voice. They all have outstanding characteristics: Rondee, easy meeting coordination; Wiggio, other group management services; GroupMe; the quintessential mobile group meeting App; and Google Vocie, people simply call your contact number at the same time and you approve.

This technology has come a long way, and it is quite surprising that many people – who also complain about the travel time and expense – are still driving, flying, riding to meetings that could be just as effective in a virtual environment. And, reduce the carbon footprint and costs substantially.

HR consulting firm Randstad’s recent Global Workmonitor survey shows Canadian employees prefer social media for personal, not professional use, lagging behind employees in Asia.

Although 77 percent of Canadians have a social media account, only 27 percent said they used them for business purposes such as job hunting. In China and India, the study showed the majority used social media sites solely for professional reasons.

Asians surveyed said they also used the platforms to gather information about customers, compared with about 30 percent in the US, UK and Europe.

Although Canadians said they believed social media could help them find a job, the percentage using it for that reason was smaller than in other countries surveyed. The survey concluded that Canadian workers lag behind their global counterparts in taking advantage of social media to further their careers.

Everybody is doing it – blogging, tweeting, Facebook posting, LinkedIn updates – but not everyone is doing it well. Here are some great tips on top social media behaviour that will help you get top results.

The Japanese crises – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear problems – have attracted global attention. Some businesses sincerely want to use social media to show support, other efforts are thinly veiled attempts at self-promotion. Always remember social media users are knowledgeable – for the most pat – not gullible. ClickZ provides some clear guidelines for brands on ‘helping Japan’.

After having to fight with fans more interested in yelling into their mobile phone than cheering for their team recently, I am wondering if the result is going to be a please switch off your phone campaign. But, it’s not just individuals, many organisations are not using mobile technology in the best – and most strategic – way. Adobe Scene 7’s Mobile Best Practices white paper on ClickZ looks at how industry leaders are making the most of mobile technology – with excellent results. The focus is on targeting your strategy – not throwing everything in one pot.

But, if you really want to stand out from the crowd, and keep your fans happy, it’s all about ‘content’. Many organisations are more concerned about showing off, while their sophisticated social media clients are more interested in substance. Fresh, interesting content is what keeps some brands well out front. More Visibility has some great tips on how to create social media content that people will ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’. Even if you are well established, a quick refresher on the basics never hurts.

 

Today is the Oscars, that celebration of all things cinematic. But what about award-winning technology? Well, these articles on top iPhone apps caught my eye. And, that’s just the tip of the app mountain.

Everything PR‘s Lior Levin takes a look at what’s hot in the app world for small businesses for learning on the go. Try iTunes U, offering you a link to learning anything, anytime, anywhere, it’s like having your university in your pocket. If you like visuals, the free Skill Pill app connects you to short video refrehsers on a host of business skills. If getting reasonably priced petrol to get you to work is your biggest challenge, Mashable.com just featured three iPhone apps to help you find the best petrol prices.

If you are an Oscars fan, but don’t have a TV handy, check out their streaming link. Or check out these iPhone apps courtesy of Tapscape. The Globe and Mail rated their Top 5 Oscar-worthy apps in the Technology Trending Tech blog, by Amber McArthur.

And, if you have simply misplaced your phone, why not try this ‘Where’s My Phone’ app. Now, that’s an award-winning idea.

Apps rule…and there’s still time to get plugged in.

As social media enters a new age becoming more mainstream, Twitter is now swimming with the current and providing users with the much-needed analytics they have wanted. Other social media platforms, Facebook for one, have realised the importance of facts about usage to companies and organisations investing in social media marketing. But, what are people ‘twittering’ about this new move.

Social Small Biz refer to it as ‘Twitter (finally) rolls out analytics‘, hinting that they have come to the analysing table late. However, they do pat them on the back for serving up access to archived stats going back thirty-one days – a big improvement, and an obvious response to users’ appetite for detail.

Mashable.com reports that although a number of third-party sites have been filling this void, some at a charge, Twitter will provide their analytics services for free.

Information Week’s technology news section reports on the key partnerships Twitter has made recently to enable it to provide its clients with the tools to listen to their clients – and therefore completing the information gathering and reporting circle.

Although still in the testing stage, Twitter is listening to its clients, and leading by example. Let’s hope this over due service is over the top and wows the millions who have committed to Twitter.

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