There seems to be a bit of buzz building about the release of Site Builder 3.
The Toolkit Web site is one of the sites testing Site Builder 3 and so far we've been happy with the results.
I've sat in on two Site Builder 3 training sessions - and an often-asked question is "Will there be a migration tool so we can just 'move' our site to Site Builder 3?" While the WAT promises a transition tool in the future - I would challenge folks to think of the transition as the prefect opportunity to re-think their Web sites.
Rather than simply moving your current site organization and navigation over, this is a good time to think re-focusing your Web site in a more customer-centric way.
If you're not happy with your current Web site - this is the perfect time for a fresh start.
Evaluate your current home page.
- Does it reflect customer needs or is it simply a reflection of your administrative organization?
- Does it contain the information your clients need?
- Is the information easy to find?
- Is the navigation hierarchy in the order of what your clients think is important - or what you think is important?
- Have you simply defaulted to alphabetical listings to avoid the whole issue?
The Carewords data can help you make informed decisions about placement on a page.
Statements about what you do are less important that statements about what you can do for your clients. Keep these key customer questions in mind:
- Why is this important to me?
- How does this help me?
- What have you done for me lately?
You don't need to re-do your entire site. Much of your current content can be copied and pasted into your new site using your new navigation and organization scheme.
I may have mentioned that back in a "previous life" at the Gould Voice Research Center, I was the PI on the dissemination component of a large grant funded by the NIH. Back then, when people asked me what I did, I often quipped, "Diplomacy and translation services."
While that may have been a tongue in cheek description of my duties, actually it was pretty spot on. Often as communicators in the sciences our task is to "translate" the activities and findings of researchers not only into language that is easily understandable by lay audiences, but translating the findings with these 3 key questions in mind:
- Why does this matter?
- How do I benefit?
- What have you done for me lately?
The average score of our general audience summaries is around 65. Stakeholder summaries average a score of 30.
When writing for the Web, remember that less is more. The bullet points from the banners hanging at the reception for stakeholders at the statewide meeting are also available in the Toolkit.
A common question I get on this topic is "Isn't that dumbing it down?" No, it's being an effective communicator, and understanding your audience.
As most of the ANR Web environment goes through a makeover, I thought that this post on writing great copy deserved sharing.
If you're looking at changes to your Web site, remember to keep the end user in mind rather than your own needs or an explanation of a new structure. It's easy to get wrapped up in what's happening internally. Keep the focus on the product and programs.
The question "What have you done for me lately?" has never been more relevant.
This is a quick read - Does your Web copy pass the seven tests?
I've been building a new Web site for the ANR Strategic Vision Toolkit - so I've had a renewed interested in navigation and content issues. I had to smile when I read Gerry McGovern's recent post on how to create clear Web navigation menus.
We've had many a lively conversation in Communication Services about user based navigation menus. This post actually uses an agricultural example. Hmmmm, Gerry's team has done some consulting work with us on the Carewords project. Is he possibly talking about us?
We've also had some lively conversations about the role Quick Links on the ANR home page - the end of the post is a very funny segment on some Quick Links that don't like their placement on the page and seek revenge.
Speaking of the Toolkit - we'll have some materials ready in the next week or so. Other items such as the photo and pull quote libraries will wait until the site can be password protected. Those features will come in Site Builder III - coming soon!
And the most asked question in my in box these days: "When can I order business cards?" The Web-based ordering infrastructure for the "business suite" is being constructed. ETA - end of January, cross your fingers. Watch ANR Reports for the official announcement.
First up - as a blogger, I'm often amazed at how little people comment on my blog. Last week, I found a sure-fire way to get people to comment - write a provocative headline.
Is social media is a fad? Don't count it out. Brenda D makes an excellent point that, as always, you should choose a message delivery method that appeals to your audience. Social media is just one more tool in your toolbox.
On the subject of comments - I found this interesting post on why people don't comment on blogs.
Gerry McGovern recently wrote a very funny post about how to write a great web link. One would think that this is a post about writing - but it's actually a post about links that do what the user expects. Not surprisingly, (whack the side of your head here) is the expectation of a visitor that a using customer service or contact link will actually result in a contact.
McGovern writes that in the case of one Web site, 50% of all contact requests went unanswered. He continues with some suggested new contact links:
"If your organization is unwilling to get back to people who contact you, here are some alternative ways you could name your link:
Contact Us (only joking)
Contact us if you can
Just try and contact us
Don’t contact us; we’ll contact you"
Do you need to rewrite your contact links?
And finally, Jeanette Warnert has passed along a link to an eXtension presentation on Search Engine Optimization.If you've ever wondered the difference between a visit and a hit, how spiders and bots work, if you need to worry about metatags and keywords, or want to improve your site's ranking in search results, this is a presentation worth watching.