Wed, February 14 2007

Web usability tip: write for the audience

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Websites and web usability •

If there is one thing I say all the time, it’s that everything we do as marketers must be about our audience.  This extends to our choice of words.

Blogger Craig LeFebvre just alerted me to Alertbox, and after being generally fascinated by many posts there, I happened upon this post on web usability.  It’s a very, very good reference and worth signing up for.  The post says:

Familiar words spring to mind when users create their search queries. If your writing favors made-up terms over legacy words, users won’t find your site.

For example, a headline like the one that appeared in Variety on black Monday—Wall St. lays an egg —is bad in today’s world because people will be searching for things like “Wall Street” and “stocks.” 

That’s why straightforward names, headers and tagging are so important.  I named this blog nonprofitmarketingblog.com not because it was an exciting name but because it gets people here.

If you’re not up on tagging, which I find quite confusing myself, go here.  They helped me figure it out.

So did Ike of the Red Cross who says:

There are a number of ways you can post your del.icio.us links to your blog, providing an extra value for the sidebar.  But you don’t have to go with every single link you save.  You can use your tags to determine which will be displayed.  For instance, on my personal blog Occam’s RazR there is a list in the sidebar called “del.icio.us coolness”, which is simply the roll of links I think fit the theme of my site.  When I bookmark my links, I just add the tag “occam” if I want it to show in the blog, and my list is configured to filter my links for that keyword.  If you were to add a “Non-profit news headline” list to your page, you could do the same thing.  Tag the clippings with an appropriate category, and let the programming do the work for you.  You could even run several categories at a time, and tag them separately as “Fundraising”, “Scandals”, “Cool Ideas”, or whatever strikes your fancy.

I’m going to try it.

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Thu, February 01 2007

Worst web sites of 2006

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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I’m a big fan of websitesthatsuck.com, especially their annual hall of shame.  I go there when I feel depressed about my own web shortcomings - nothing like a dose of schadenfreude to brighten the spirit.

Here are just a few of the many useful lessons from the list of offenders this year:

1. Keep it clean and easy to read—busy is bad.

2. Have one, clear focal point (and, I’d add, one clear call to action) or else you’re making it very unpleasant for the visitor.  Don’t believe me?  Visit the Salt Institute (warning: take two Tylenol first).

3. Good navigation is essential and must be from the perspective of the audience, rather than your own.

I could go on and on, but they already did.  There are more than 100 more tips on their site—check out 148 Mortal Sins That Will Send Your Site to Web Design Hell.  Yikes, some of my work may be purgatory bound.  But at least I’m not the Salt Institute!

 

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Tue, December 05 2006

Best Internet Marketing for a Cause 2006

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Hello Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog Readers!

Katya was kind enough to ask me to guest blog here so I thought I’d share a post with you that I recently posted on the NetSquared blog:


What makes us write a donation check, spread the word about a campaign, or show up for a meeting or protest?  What makes us want to act for social change?  Emotional connection.  Passion for a cause.

For the past year, I have been writing for NetSquared about nonprofits and NGOs that are using the social web to cultivate donors, advocates and activists for their organization and their cause.  I find that the campaigns I respond the most to are the ones with heart, whimsy and oftentimes, a story.  Here are my picks for the Best Internet Marketing for a Cause 2006 (in alphabetical order).  I hope you’ll add your picks in the comments.

Blogging for Chickens by ProBlogger:  Darren Rowse celebrated ProBlogger’s second birthday by raising $1100 (AU), or about $830 US, to buy 110 pairs of chickens for impoverished families via Oxfam Australia.  When Oxfam contacted Rowse they said that Blogging for Chickens was, “one of the more interesting fundraisers that they’ve seen.”

I Love Mountains: Appalachian Voices, Coal River Mountain Watch, Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards created the I Love Mountains campaign to stop mountaintop removal.  Supporters can:

  1. Sign a pledge and track the impact of their pledge on a map.
2. Download Wille Nelson singing Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind.”
3. Watch a movie about mountaintop removal on YouTube.
4. View the National Memorial for the Mountains on Google Earth.  Each flag represents a mountain that has been destroyed.

Jane Goodall Institute’s Geoblog:  The Jane Goodall Insitute has created a geoblog, the Gombe Chimpanzee Blog,  Using Google Earth,  the geoblog allows readers/viewers to view Gombe National Park in Tanzania while they read entries by Emily Wroblewski, a field researcher who is studying the Gombe Chimpanzees.  I can’t imagine a more powerful tool for environmental nonprofits and NGOs than to “fly” your supporters and potential supporters over the area of the world you are working in.

Human Rights Video Hub by WITNESS and Global Voices: WITNESS and Global Voices Online have teamed up to pilot a Human Rights Video Hub where anyone anywhere can upload human rights related videos to raise awareness and launch campaigns. You can check out the pilot project on the Global Voices blog here.  Among the videos up right now is footage of police dispersing student protestors in China, UCLA police using a taser gun on a student in a library, and video shot by journalist Brad Will during the protests in Oaxaca, right before he was killed.  Launch of the completed Hub is planned for 2007.

Kiva:  Kiva is a nonprofit that allows individuals like you and me to make loans through PayPal to entrepreneurs who are working their way out of poverty.  You can watch a 16-minute documentary about Kiva on the FRONTLINE World web site.  When the documentary aired on Ocober 31st, the response from viewers was so great that it brought the Kiva site down.  As co-founder Jessica Jackley Flannery said, “Kiva started out of relationships and love, ideally I would love for that to be present in every single transaction that happens. People connecting.”

Menu of Hope by Chez Pim: Led by Chez Pim, food bloggers donated a delicious array of food-related raffle prizes for the second annual Menu for Hope in 2005.  Each $5 donation that a reader made qualified them for one virtual raffle ticket to win the prize of their choosing from the prize list.  The campaign raised $17, 000.  Clearly, the way to a donor’s pocket is through her stomach.  For more info. about this year’s campaign for the United Nation’s World Food Programme click here.

Sam Suds and the Case of PVC, the Poison Plastic by Free Range Studios and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice In this online video produced by Free Range Studios and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Sam Suds is a bar of soap in charge of protecting the Johnson family from dangerous toxins. His next case is to find a mysterious character called “PVC”.  He’s not making a lot of progress until a rubber duck he calls “Duckface” tells him,“It’s this rubber duck I’ve been seeing, he seemed nice enough at first, but I’m starting to suspect that he ain’t made of rubber. . . I think he’s PVC.”

What are your favorite examples of the Best Internet Marketing for a Cause?

Photo credit: Eastern Kentucky Mountains by Colin Mutchler

Britt writes for Have Fun * Do Good, BlogHer, NetSquared and World Changing San Francisco, and produces the Big Vision Podcast and NetSquared Podcast.

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Thu, November 16 2006

A free picture is worth a thousand dollars

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Websites and web usability •

Getting Attention blog by way of Guy Kawasaki reminds us of the power of pictures.  So good timing: TechSoup offers this incredibly long, great list of places you can get FREE visuals to use when marketing your cause.

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Sun, October 22 2006

The art of easy & the ugliest web site ever

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Websites and web usability •

My three-year-old daughter wanted me to watch Scooby Doo with her this morning, which I did while reading the paper.  And fortunately I was paying more attention to the paper than to the maddeningly redundant show (the Groundhog Day of cartoons), because I came across a series of articles in the Washington Post ballyhooing the five-year anniversary of the iPodThis article chronicled the conversion of a Mac skeptic to an iPod addict.  The reason?  The convert says:

“My conversion to iPod is like a proverb: You can’t criticize something for being ‘too easy’... It’s not because I can’t figure out computers—it’s just easier.”

The coverage also featured people frustrated by iTunes’ incompatibility issues and iPod’s reported lack of durability, but even the skeptics all grudgingly admired the simplicity of the iPod.  No wonder it sells so well.  The same could be said for Scooby Doo - the redundancy (and simplicity) is part of its decades-long appeal. I watched it when I was three, and so does my daughter many years later.

Everyone cites iPod ad nauseum as the gold standard of easy, so my point here is about as original as a Scooby Doo plot.  I’ll spare you another oft-cited example: Staples’ Easy Button.  The point for do-gooders is we need to make it very easy for people to interact with us and take action.  Are we in the iPod/Staples class of elegant simplicity for our supporters, or do they have to work to find our Donate Now button on our home page or expend a lot of mental energy to grasp the call to action in our year-end appeal?

Make a pledge this week to make something about your marketing easier.  Way easier.  Not like this.  Like this (only I’d make that “join” button bigger).

 

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