10 Ways to Keep Your Website from Going on Vacation this Summer

If you’ve managed and/or owned a website since the Internet’s inception, then you’ve probably noticed that your website’s traffic declines during the summer months. Some causes of decreasing traffic are obvious:

  • People are on vacation
    • Your audience is stepping away from their computers and mobile devices, and are instead jumping into their local swimming pool
  • A website that is not responsive or mobile-friendly is a recipe for strong audience abandonment. No one wants to waste time on their vacation trying to figure out how to stretch, turn, and twerk a page to fit their mobile device.

However, it’s still important that you don’t encourage visitors to abandon your site. Here are 10 ways that you can keep your website from going on vacation this summer.

1. 86 PDFS.

If you aren’t familiar with the term ’86’- you’ve never waited tables through school like we did. This to us is easily number one our list. There are so many reasons why PDFs need to be removed from your website vocabulary.

  • PDFS can be slow to navigate and download from mobile devices, and they do not allow your audience to truly engage with your content.
  • PDFS do not provide easily digestable, scannable content.

If you are concerned about people needing the ability to print, please don’t be. Accordingly to Contently, 95% of people do not print web content anymore. That. Is. Huge.  Still need convincing?  Please see this excellent, excellent, excellent Benchmarking Report that was just released from Contently.

2. Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean that your content should be.

We all should decompress and take some down time in the summer. Before setting off for your vacation, make sure that you’ve taken advantage of tools that allow you to prepopulate content. If your content management system (CMS) enables you to preset content, do it. Blog tools such as WordPress will allow you to generate content in advance. And for social media, turn to great tools like Hootsuite to upload numerous messages, and then schedule their automatic delivery across your various social networks over the summer.

3. Make the worst time for fundraising, the best time for fundraising.

It’s no secret.  Non-profits struggle with fundraising in the summer. People feel much more generous during the winter when they know that the colder weather is impacting someone’s ability to stay warm.  Or, that a child may go without a holiday dinner or gift. However, it is a good time for your non-profit to evaluate new trends and tactics, as well as to review what’s worked well for your organization in the past. Take this time to plan early for critical end of year fundraising.

However, if your nonprofit can build an effective campaign related to the summer, do so. For example, the United Service Organizations (USO) recognizes the six week period between Memorial Day and the 4th of July as the Patriotic Six, and does key campaigning in this time frame.

4. And the survey says!

With less customer service inquiries, and smaller audiences- the summer is a great time to test the strength of your website. Consider hosting some user testing and focus groups where you can hear from your audience.  How easy is it for them to truly navigate your website?  Do the navigational headings you came up with best suit their needs?

5. Check in with stakeholders.

Take the quieter summer months to check in with the stakeholders that contribute content for your website. Along with your vital audience, ask them if they like the content organization and navigational headings. Is the appropriate amount of real estate being given to the most important resources? Don’t wait until a website redesign or refresh to listen to what your staff truly thinks of the site.  If they don’t’ believe in your site, they won’t use it or promote it to your current and prospective audience. But don’t forget critical website governance. This should not be a free-for-all process. A majority voice still needs to prevail as the lead in managing your website, and this voice should be the gatekeeper of what revisions and enhancements should be considered, and which ones are just griping.

6. Peep in on your competitors.

A competitor analysis is a great way to evaluate what your key competitors and comparable organizations are doing well and not so well online. It’s good to check in with them to see if your site is keeping up with the Joneses.

7. Paper or plastic?

Think about the packaging that your content is in on your current website. If it’s all just web pages, stop. Stop now, and start thinking of something new to offer that enables your audience to truly engage with your content. Replace boring, long passages of content with infographics, polls, quizzes, and slideshows. And don’t forget video! Which brings us to number 8.

8. Make a video.

So many of our clients have fully embraced content strategy, and are now seeing the tremendous value of video. Please refer back to that great benchmarking study we referenced in number 1 to see more about the power of video. Use the slower summer months to begin evaluating video production companies, and begin developing a video strategy for your content.

9. Grow and clean your list.

While looking at an article about Mike Tirico’s departure from ESPN the other day, I saw a brilliant overlay on a sports website that encouraged me to follow them on Twitter. While I had never considered following this particular brand, the overlay was so clever that I signed up. Take advantage of the quiet summer months to do some purging of old data, and to prepare campaigns for loyal subscribers, as well as those baddies who you haven’t heard from in months.

10. Get your customers offline.

What?! Yes. We. Did. If your business model allows, recognize that your clients aren’t online in the summer, and have them meet you in person. Have a great client that you connect with solely through email? Ask to meet them for ice cream or gelato, and game plan work, post-summer. Have a non-profit that serves the environment? Get your constituents to meet you at a local park to help you with a clean- up. And then of course, blog or Tweet about it afterwards. Do you have staff of writers and designers that churn out incredible work inside of their cubicle all day? Take them to an outdoor farmer’s market or festival to inspire creativity.

We can help you with all ten of these items this summer. Be in touch about how we can help you!
Enjoy your summer!

Don’t Be Fooled by Your New Analytics

Congratulations! After months (or even years) of hard work, you’ve launched your new website. It looks great. Your users are sending you great feedback. Online Sales and or donations are up.   Your web administrators are loving the new content management system that your site is built on.

But, your website traffic is suddenly lower. Ack! Before your panic, here are a few things we recommend that you check and consider:


Reduced page count means reduced pages to visit.

Through a website redesign effort, your content strategy tasks should have included a website audit. During the phase, you would have uncovered cases of redundant, outdated, or redundant trivial (known as a ROT analysis). Your assigned content strategist would have also developed content recommendations that may have included consolidating pages. These two tasks are vital for reducing unnecessary content on your site. Don’t be surprised if you see the number of page views go down on your site. It could simply mean that the number of pages has gone down.  Stay focused on how people get to your content (your site’s navigation, internal search from your site)  or external, organic search) and how long they stay on your page.

Don’t forget your new sitemap.

In the same way that wireframes are the recommended blueprint or roadmap of our client’s websites- so are website maps. They help guide search engines while crawling the site. An XML sitemap should be uploaded to better inform search engines as well as to rank all of your related pages. An updated sitemap should be posted to the site after any major enhancements are made to the website. This is a critical step in any website effort to ensure that search can identify and crawl all pages migrated into your new content management system as well as not listing those that have been deleted prior to migration.

SEO Matters on Desktop and Mobile.

One issue that we see with some clients that develop content internally is cutting content during a redesign. While reducing pages (as we discussed above) is ideal, reducing word count must be done with caution. However, relevant brevity is key. The process of writing content for mobile should not be considered the same as “trimming down the fat.” All content, whether it’s viewed on a mobile site or desktop should be relevant. If it’s fatty, it should go, period. Best practices for web content say to keep page length around 500 words. Keep in mind that the average mobile device will only display 80-90 words before you have to scroll. This should be considered when incorporating page breaks, graphics, etc. The rules for SEO on mobile differ from those on standard websites and change frequently. As a comprehensive SEO strategy will accompany the overall web content strategy, please refer to: Google’s latest and greatest SEO mobile guidelines.

Lack of frequently updated content.

As a part of its search algorithm, Google also accesses the indexed age of a website, including its content and the links that are pointing to it. Websites that lack fresh content are viewed as lacking in credibility. No one wants to go to a health website with outdated treatments, or an ecommerce site with old, inaccurate pricing. After launching your website, it is imperative that you keep content fresh on your site. Consider updating your service capabilities or non-profit work by highlighting case studies, stories from donors and those your organization services, employee bios, job opportunities, blog post (link to March blog) and your social media content.

Need help analyzing your analytics and making adjustments after your site launch?
We can help!

Five Ways to Keep Your Blog Alive

It’s easy to say your website needs to include a blog.

It’s a great way to drive traffic, and to present fresh content to your audience. But once you get started, how do you keep the content process going?


Here are 10 ways that you can keep the blog alive:

1. Ditch the Press Releases.

Not only are press releases time consuming to prepare and distribute, but they provide very limited opportunities to present call to actions. Instead, consider using your blog as your company’s news channel.

2. Promote the good stuff you do.

Does your team volunteer or offer pro bono services to a charity?  Tell your followers about it.   People love to connect with those that have like-minded interests and passions.  They are more likely to want to engage with your brand if they know your commitment to making a continual and lasting impact in our communities.  Plus, this can provide your followers with tangible call to actions such as volunteering with you, donating items from a wish list created within your blog, and more.

3. Let your website drive the content.

Your blog should provide stronger visual tie-ins to key features of the website. The blog should offer a “promo spot” – reserved for promotion of upcoming events/campaigns, milestones, or to highlight key content. Related content and stories from your website should be included at the bottom of your blog entries, so that the viewer sees it after they have finished reading the article. This could lead to more engagement with your web content.  Check out how Conservation International does this.

4. Highlight your team.

I recently read a blog post from the DC-based health Communications firm, Hager Sharp (who I love working with!) that highlights the 11-year career milestone of one of their Millennial employees. Not only did the article give their audience a personal look at a member of their staff, it presented the firm in such a positive light that it would be easy to imagine the amount of people that took a peek at their Careers section as a result.

5. Well, IMO…

Ahh, the infamous comments section of a blog.  We’ve all seen them.  For better or for worse, people read them.   Consider using your own blog to comment on another blog post.   Of course, keep it professional and related to the original post that you are responding to.

Need help giving your blog content a boost?
Contact us today!

Instead of going round and round, let your carousel navigate.

Carousels have had a long stay in an ever-changing web space.

Carousels have gotten bigger as a result of hero imagery. And, they have gotten smaller to meet the needs of mobile users who swipe instead of click. We even did a blog post in 2014 encouraging alternatives to the carousel.

Blogs are also another mainstay of websites. They went from one-way communication channels, to hateful, ranting platforms where we wish commenting had never been invented (more on that in an upcoming blog post *smile*).

So many of our clients spend a lot of time on their blogs. Instead of updating evergreen web pages, they devote effort on their blog and social media. Doing so allows them to present fresh content, and to respond to new issues and key objectives. It’s the same reason we update our blog. Blogs are also great traffic drivers as your audience can subscribe to your blog, and become accustomed to the frequency in which you post new content to it. We also see top lists (a la Buzzfeed) keeping their pace as popular, shareable content.

So, if your blog content is frequently updated, and is shareable, and is popular- why shouldn’t it be a part of your navigation?
We are not suggesting that you get rid of your top nav menu on your site (this would be a no-no for 508 compliance and mobile users). But, if you produce a lot of news features, articles- why not?

In adding a story/blog/article-specific carousel or rotator under your main navigation, you can give your audience a more prominent way to view and engage with your latest content. The content that you’re spending the most time developing and publishing. Through a good content management system, you don’t need to update the carousel, uniquely. This content should be dynamically updated along with your blog. And, the thumbnails associated with your blog can give you the opportunity to draw readers in with beautiful imagery that audiences aren’t used to seeing in navigation. And, doing this is yet another way to boost SEO.

Want to see what we mean? Check out this site.

Interested in upgrading your carousel to present your great content? Contact us today!

Lights. Camera. Wait. How Long Should My Video Be?

Happy New Year!!

We’ve always followed the rule that shorter videos will get more members of your audience to tune in. However, Facebook is about to change the rules, once again. As you consider your social strategy, make sure that you check out this articleand how longer videos means more prominence in Facebook news feeds. We’re not so sure we’re convinced yet… So let’s stay tuned. And, while we anxiously await to see what changes happen in regards to best practices for presenting video online, here are some reasons video can improve digital strategy:

  • Video is visual and familiar. People are used to watching TV, watching movies… Videos provide an approachable way to introduce and share information. It conveys emotion when words and numbers alone aren’t enough.

  • They make us human. Video humanizes complex topics and allows audiences to relate to people/conditions/research that might otherwise seem inaccessible.

  • A good content strategy presents storytelling. Video supports this as it is a great tool for persuasion, advocacy, and awareness-building.

  • Keep it simple. When video incorporates animation, and unique content genres like infographics and design; it clarifies complex ideas, making them easier to understand. Something great to consider when stressing plain language.

Interested in developing a video strategy for your website? We proudly authored the video (as well as content, blog, and social) strategy for www.healthcare.gov and would love to help you develop yours.

Contact us today.

Give Good to Good – Our Gift this Holiday Season

 

After any new administration comes into the White House, everyone begins to wonder what will change.

As a consulting firm that services many in the government sector, we also provide consultancy to myriad non-profits.

We say what we mean on our website- that we love and are passionate about non-profits. Non-profits help the disadvantaged, they work to make a better life for at-risk youths.  Non-profits work behind the scenes to create and persuade policy that impacts the poor and the homeless. They fundraise to improve the quality of life and find cures for those faced with life-threatening and/or life-altering diseases.

Non-profits work to clean up and sustain the vital resources that our planet provides. And they identify ways to provide nourishment to the 842 million people around the world who don’t have enough to eat.

We could not be more proud of the work we do for our clients such as the Center for Law & Social Policy, LeadingAge, and the Childhood League Center. Nor could we be more inspired by the missions they strive to fulfill every day.

And we could not be more proud to work with our amazingly creative as well as genuinely good-hearted partners at Kardia Design Studio.  We shine all year round because of our work with them.

With the new presidency, we know that numerous government programs could be impacted through budget cuts and downsizing.  We also know that this means that many Americans will need to rely on non-profits to obtain the vital services they need.

With the new presidency, we know that numerous government programs could be impacted through budget cuts and downsizing.  We also know that this means that many Americans will need to rely on non-profits to obtain the vital services they need. The ability for a non-profit to make positive change only occurs when they are able to inspire supporters to give their time and money.

Our hope is that in response to the election, many will give to deserving, honest charities that make positive, tangible impact in our world. Those that care about creating a fun diversion for children with cancer, those that help ensure equal rights for individuals – no matter the sexual orientation of who they love or want to marry.

But we also know that some may be reluctant to give because they don’t know what will happen to the economy.

We also realize that some non-profits may be fearful of spending precious donor dollars on necessary materials such as a robust website, wireframes to plan the direction of their site, or the necessary digital strategy to bring in donations and inspire potential volunteers.

And that’s where we may be able to help.

We offer a program called Give Good 2 Good.  Through Give Good 2 Good, we provide pro bono web/digital strategy consultancy to deserving non-profits.

Interested? Submit your non-profit for consideration using our contact form

Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Latino Lives and Asian Lives Matter. The lives of Jews, the Lives of Muslims, the Lives of Christians, Matter. Again, All Lives Matter. All people, regardless of skin color, their wealth or lack of, their disabilities and abilities- have a meaningful life

Caught in the Web Consulting would like to wish EVERYONE Joy and Peace at the Holidays and throughout the New Year.

10 Things Your Non-Profit Can Learn from the 2016 Presidential Campaign

No matter what side of the aisle your political views are on, we can all agree that this year’s election has been full of shocking surprises as well as excitement. The 2008 Presidential campaign marked a profound change to the way that political campaigns were run. It was all about the emergence of Web 2.0, email marketing, and analytics.

In 2008, the Obama campaign ushered in a new, fresh way of communicating to audiences-especially those that had never voted before.  

While much has changed (see what we did there?) since 2008, the politics of campaigning remain the same. However, the platforms to run a strong campaign in continue to evolve.

Here are 10 things your non-profit can learn from the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

1.) Free press is good press.

Just like presidential candidates, many organizations spend a ton of money on paid media. This year’s election has proven that earned media is out there. For free. Just see the below screen capture. While we wouldn’t suggest being as controversial as some candidates have been in this election, we do encourage making appropriately-trained spokespersons available to the media. In addition, comment on blogs or social media to encourage more attention to your work. Campaigns and candidates make news when they propose change, make a statement, and call for action.

Earned Media

2.) Get a text buddy.

While many non-profits have begun to implement texting programs, they seem to be limited to fundraising or a response to a specific event (for ex: The Red Cross’ CTA to donate blood or money after the horrific tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub). One thing that we’ve seen that we love is the way that some of the presidential candidates have been using text to carry on a ‘conversation’ with a supporter. By texting with ‘Jess’– subscribers are able to see candid photos, see exclusive YouTube videos, share clever quotes and stories with friends, and of course- give money too.

jess

3.) Strong UX means everything.

One of the things I love best about political campaigns is to check out the candidate’s online donation form. An online donation typically happens as an immediate response to an appeal someone receives via email that they see through a commercial or today—in a text message they receive. As mobile technology has improved, more people have become comfortable donating money online. Because giving is generally an immediate reaction to an appeal, it is imperative that your donation page is optimized for a prompt transaction with clear calls to action, minimal distractions and a simple form that only requires you to enter as little information as possible. As a reminder, here are some best practices that we recommend.

4.) Tell a good story.

Did you see Michelle Obama’s speech to kick off the 2016 Democratic Convention?  That amazing speech. Again, no matter what your political affiliation, everyone can agree that the story she shared was compelling, passionate, and most importantly, genuine. Authenticity of a candidate is what can determine who current and prospect voters will fix in the circle for on their election ballot. Take time to craft out meaningful stories to truly express who you are as an organization, and why your mission matters. That being said – your stories should not just be about your organization. Tell the stories of those you serve and those that help you serve.  Having and displaying empathy will resonate with your target audience and improve your brand image.

5.) More than just a tweet.

There are some candidates out there that just can’t seem to get enough of Twitter. They post day and night. Retweet without hesitation. They ask for congratulations when they think they predicted a tragedy that has occurred.  But there is one way that candidates are using Twitter that should be considered by your non-profit.  Twitter and CBS formed a partnership to stream CBSN’s live coverage from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions on Twitter. So far, the audiences have been HUUUUGE (see what we did there?). Consider live streaming of your organization’s gala, walk, or other ceremonies that are of interest to your constituents. And, don’t forget to release your late-breaking news through Twitter. Remember when everyone would scramble to ESPN to read the Breaking News ticker? Well, no one does that anymore. They can read their favorite sports journalists’ Twitter feed to get the latest news on LeBron James, or on the next player to be released or traded in the NFL.

6.) Got a platform?

One of the biggest complaints of one of the top candidates in the 2016 presidential election cycle has been a lot of talk with no substance. Your non-profit cannot underestimate the power of substance through content. A non-profit’s messaging should be robust, thoughtful content that clearly differentiates your mission from others. It should educate those interested in learning more about your work, and why your current and prospective members should support your efforts. The more polished content you can distribute through your blog, frequent but strategic posts on social media, or effective newsletters; the more opportunities you give current and potential supporters to engage with your cause.

7.) Join Us. OK. How?

We often see non-profits offer call to actions such as Join Us. Typically, this means joining an email list. Political campaigns take this a step further by offering prospective and current supporters myriad options for truly joining their campaign efforts. This is done by providing options to volunteer on election day, to sign a pledge, to attend a local event, rally, or fundraiser, or- to just stay connected through social media. Make sure that your non-profit clearly outlines all of the ways your audience can truly join you and your mission.

Join Us. OK. How

8.) Tag. You’re it.

A clever tagline makes campaigns memorable. When considering a tagline for your non-profit, make sure that the concept works with your organization’s key messaging. Consistency is key. If the tagline doesn’t relate to your overall mission, scrap it. Or, make sure that it is truly geared to a specific campaign or fundraising effort, and not your organization as a whole.  A clever tagline should evoke emotion as well as action. Think verbs. Not only nouns: Explore, Empower, Save.

9.) Small dollars add up to big ones.

We call this the Bernie Sanders effect. By now, you’re probably well aware that the average donation given to the Bernie Sanders campaign online was $27.00. Back to our point about taglines for just a minute…The Bernie Sanders campaign was all built on the concept of paid for by Bernie, not the billionaires. As someone who positioned himself as not one of the typical, wealthy politicians, not someone funded by super PACs, or corporations—the small dollar ask worked and was authentic to his stance. This effort created a profound message to small donors that earned Sanders tremendous loyalty and audience engagement. Non profits, take note.

10.) Analytics Matter.

During our work with the USO, we had the amazing honor of working with Dan Siroker. If you don’t know him, he was the analytics guru behind the Obama 2008 convention. A Google alum, Dan’s data found that a picture of Obama’s family with a button that said “Learn More” had a 40% higher chance of increasing the number of sign ups than buttons reading “sign up” or “join us now.And for all of you data wonks, be sure to check this out!

Don’t overeducate. Like politics, people seek out organizations because of their already held passions or beliefs. And while education is key for allowing individuals to learn about your cause, it takes motivation to get them to act in response to their passion. A truly powerful campaign reduces barriers against taking tangible action, and increases the incentive to take action. People expect a non-profit to need help. Give them a way to provide it.

Let’s be stronger together and make
campaigns great again. Contact us today!

Save

Save

10 Ways to Keep Your Website from Going on Vacation this Summer

If you’ve managed and/or owned a website since the Internet’s inception, then you’ve probably noticed that your website’s traffic declines during the summer months. Some causes of decreasing traffic are obvious:

  • People are on vacation
    • Your audience is stepping away from their computers and mobile devices, and are instead jumping into their local swimming pool
  • A website that is not responsive or mobile-friendly is a recipe for strong audience abandonment. No one wants to waste time on their vacation trying to figure out how to stretch, turn, and twerk a page to fit their mobile device.

However, it’s still important that you don’t encourage visitors to abandon your site. Here are 10 ways that you can keep your website from going on vacation this summer.

1. 86 PDFS.

If you aren’t familiar with the term ’86’- you’ve never waited tables through school like we did. This to us is easily number one our list. There are so many reasons why PDFs need to be removed from your website vocabulary.

  • PDFS can be slow to navigate and download from mobile devices, and they do not allow your audience to truly engage with your content.
  • PDFS do not provide easily digestable, scannable content.

If you are concerned about people needing the ability to print, please don’t be. Accordingly to Contently, 95% of people do not print web content anymore. That. Is. Huge.  Still need convincing?  Please see this excellent, excellent, excellent Benchmarking Report that was just released from Contently.

2. Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean that your content should be.

We all should decompress and take some down time in the summer. Before setting off for your vacation, make sure that you’ve taken advantage of tools that allow you to prepopulate content. If your content management system (CMS) enables you to preset content, do it. Blog tools such as WordPress will allow you to generate content in advance. And for social media, turn to great tools like Hootsuite to upload numerous messages, and then schedule their automatic delivery across your various social networks over the summer.

3. Make the worst time for fundraising, the best time for fundraising.

It’s no secret.  Non-profits struggle with fundraising in the summer. People feel much more generous during the winter when they know that the colder weather is impacting someone’s ability to stay warm.  Or, that a child may go without a holiday dinner or gift. However, it is a good time for your non-profit to evaluate new trends and tactics, as well as to review what’s worked well for your organization in the past. Take this time to plan early for critical end of year fundraising.

However, if your nonprofit can build an effective campaign related to the summer, do so. For example, the United Service Organizations (USO) recognizes the six week period between Memorial Day and the 4th of July as the Patriotic Six, and does key campaigning in this time frame.

4. And the survey says!

With less customer service inquiries, and smaller audiences- the summer is a great time to test the strength of your website. Consider hosting some user testing and focus groups where you can hear from your audience.  How easy is it for them to truly navigate your website?  Do the navigational headings you came up with best suit their needs?

5. Check in with stakeholders.

Take the quieter summer months to check in with the stakeholders that contribute content for your website. Along with your vital audience, ask them if they like the content organization and navigational headings. Is the appropriate amount of real estate being given to the most important resources? Don’t wait until a website redesign or refresh to listen to what your staff truly thinks of the site.  If they don’t’ believe in your site, they won’t use it or promote it to your current and prospective audience. But don’t forget critical website governance. This should not be a free-for-all process. A majority voice still needs to prevail as the lead in managing your website, and this voice should be the gatekeeper of what revisions and enhancements should be considered, and which ones are just griping.

6. Peep in on your competitors.

A competitor analysis is a great way to evaluate what your key competitors and comparable organizations are doing well and not so well online. It’s good to check in with them to see if your site is keeping up with the Joneses.

7. Paper or plastic?

Think about the packaging that your content is in on your current website. If it’s all just web pages, stop. Stop now, and start thinking of something new to offer that enables your audience to truly engage with your content. Replace boring, long passages of content with infographics, polls, quizzes, and slideshows. And don’t forget video! Which brings us to number 8.

8. Make a video.

So many of our clients have fully embraced content strategy, and are now seeing the tremendous value of video. Please refer back to that great benchmarking study we referenced in number 1 to see more about the power of video. Use the slower summer months to begin evaluating video production companies, and begin developing a video strategy for your content.

9. Grow and clean your list.

While looking at an article about Mike Tirico’s departure from ESPN the other day, I saw a brilliant overlay on a sports website that encouraged me to follow them on Twitter. While I had never considered following this particular brand, the overlay was so clever that I signed up. Take advantage of the quiet summer months to do some purging of old data, and to prepare campaigns for loyal subscribers, as well as those baddies who you haven’t heard from in months.

10. Get your customers offline.

What?! Yes. We. Did. If your business model allows, recognize that your clients aren’t online in the summer, and have them meet you in person. Have a great client that you connect with solely through email? Ask to meet them for ice cream or gelato, and game plan work, post-summer. Have a non-profit that serves the environment? Get your constituents to meet you at a local park to help you with a clean- up. And then of course, blog or Tweet about it afterwards. Do you have staff of writers and designers that churn out incredible work inside of their cubicle all day? Take them to an outdoor farmer’s market or festival to inspire creativity.

We can help you with all ten of these items this summer. Be in touch about how we can help you!
Enjoy your summer!

Spring Cleaning for Your Website

044

Spring has sprung.

The snow has gone (at least we think), and people, plants, and animals are beginning to emerge from hibernation to step into the sun. And if you’re lucky enough to be in the DC area like us, it’s time to check out those incredibly amazing Cherry Blossoms!

We all are aware of spring cleaning for our homes. But this time of year is also a great time to do some spring cleaning for your website.

Here are our tips on how to do it:

Get rid of what’s R.O.T.ten.

Just like you remove spoiled food from your refrigerator, you should be doing the same with your website through a ROT Analysis. A ROT (Redundant, Outdated, and Trivial) analysis entails a full audit of your site’s content to determine what should be purged from your website. If you don’t have a content strategist who can dedicate time to this effort, consider completing a ROT for your homepage, and the top five most traveled pages on your website based on your analytics. We have done ROT assessments for sites that are 30 pages, and sites that are 20,000 pages. Let us help!
 

What’s New?

If your news section is promoting something that’s more than 90 days old, or you’re advertising an event that’s already occurred, it’s time to spruce up your news/events section of your website. Consider sharing a case study of a client you’ve served, the announcement of a new offering or product, or if you’re a non-profit, don’t underestimate the power of sharing a great story or testimonial. If you feel that it’s difficult to promote current, relevant news on your site, consider removing the News section, and instead, turn to social media to keep your audience abreast of your latest information.
 

Consider a Makeover:

In a previous post, we shared the difference between a full site redesign and a refresh. The spring is a great time to assess the look and feel of your website. Ask yourself and your team if the site’s design truly communicates the style and personality that you are intending to convey to your audience. If not, it may be time to do a light refresh of your homepage and frequently-traveled areas of your site.
 

Make 404s into 411s:

A site audit conducted in the spring can determine whether or not you have broken links on your site. Unavailable site content displayed through 404 page errors will do nothing but lead to site abandonment as well as poor SEO results. Identify the broken pages and work with your site’s administrator to correct them.
 

Mobile Too:

Spring cleaning for your website must include a look at your mobile presence too. Is your site truly responsive? If you have a unique mobile site, has the content been updated?
 

GPS for your Site:

During a website redesign, we focus in on strong navigation throughout the site. But after a site, it’s easy for web administrators to create links within content which is great for SEO, but the main and sub navigation should also be adjusted from time to time to ensure that your audience can find your vital content through both search and navigation.
 

Say Cheese:

Spring cleaning should include imagery too. Your web launch may have included an array of stock images which are now consider outdated, or off-brand. One thing we often notice in site assessments are images that include dated technology such as older versions of smartphones or gasp, flip phones. Speaking of stock images, think about investing some time and budget into having some professional photos taken. Audiences have grown very savvy to stock imagery and may cause them to view your brand as lacking authenticity. Try employing talented members of your staff and audience to provide real, candid photos for your website that truly reflect what you do and the people you serve.
 

Make the Call on Call to Actions:

It’s easy for a website to tell someone to buy now, or donate now, but does your website really make it possible to do this? Caught in the Web Consulting recently tested six political campaign websites (on both sides of the political aisle) to see how easy it was to donate $10.00 to their campaign. The results varied from extremely seamless, to – wow- we still can’t believe we couldn’t give… If you’re not sure what it takes to make a good donation page for your non-profit, check our past blog post for our tips.
 

Testing 1, 2, 3:

During the spring season, take some time to test what truly works on your website. Go beyond analytics and conduct vital A/B testing. For example, which rotator/carousel treatment gets more click-thrus:  One with a picture of your CEO, or a more emotional one with a picture of a family?  What gets more clicks: Donate Now, or Support Our Troops? What gets more downloads: A PDF or a video recap of our latest testimony to Congress? This information will be a critical driver in solidifying your comprehensive website strategy.
 

We hope that these tips help you with your website spring cleaning this season. And if you need assistance with your website, any season of the year,
we’re here to help. Happy Cleaning!

Content’s Vital Role in Successful Website Development: An Interview with Full Circle Communication’s Paula Whitacre

Happy New Year!

We have decided to take a different approach with our first blog of the New Year. We are very excited and honored to feature a blog interview with Paula Whitacre. Mrs. Whitacre is an amazing writer, editor, and owner of Full Circle Communications which she began in 1996.

We have had the pleasure of working with Full Circle Communications on an array of projects including the USO website redesign, Goodwin House Incorporated, The Childhood League Center, and many more.

We. Love. Paula.

Not only is she an excellent writer, she is an exceptional listener, respects and adheres to client’s deadlines, and our favorite thing- she loves good missions and projects as much as we do!

We wanted to get some insight into the vital marriage between content, content strategy, and web development. See our interview with the wonderful Paula Whitacre below.

Content and Design
Q) More and more of our clients are coming to us with a solid understanding of the importance of content strategy. Yet, they’re not exactly sure how to engage a copywriter. In your opinion—what role should a copywriter play in developing content strategy?

A) Content strategy is what you should do with everything your organization produces, whether online or in print: that is, create useful information for your target audiences.

A writer can ask you questions to define your target audiences, then help you determine what to share with them. Very important is to figure out what not to share so the audience focuses on your primary messages without a bunch of other stuff fighting for their attention.
 

Q) Our clients always say that they want a writer who ‘gets us.’ What should our clients be sure to tell you so you can “get” them, in order to capture the essence of who we are, what we do, how we help people?

A) A few things that immediately come to mind:

  • What distinguishes you from your competition?
  • How does your organization want to present itself to the outside world?(for example, hip, authoritative, compassionate—this helps in setting tone and word choice)
  • What are turn-offs for your organization?(certain words or ideas not to use)
  • What are some examples of other websites that you really like or don’t like, and why?

Writers can learn a lot from reviewing existing materials, but we can’t read minds.
 

Q) I think we have all had it with jargon such as value-add, break the Internet, unicorn, curate, rockstar, and authentic…How can web copywriting set clients apart from others without sounding like a cliche-filled broken record?

 
A) Provide examples that show you are authentic, or a rock star, or whatever more generic claim you want to make. Relevant stories and strong images help get away from the jargon. A writer ensures the copy is tight, easy to read, and not too self-promotional.
 

Q) The web continues to evolve on a daily basis. Why does SEO still matter?

 
A) SEO (search engine optimization) matters because people search online constantly, each and every day. Many aspects of SEO are beyond what the writer does. But we can help by understanding how a potential target audience seeks information related to what your organization does, then write to maximize the chances they will find you through their searches.
 

Q) How does your writing approach change as more and more people turn to their smart devices to access content?

 
A) We used to write with lots of clickable links and subpages. Now we want to make sure people reading on their smart devices, especially phones, can easily scroll down a page to read the most important content.
 

Q) In creating websites, we feel that we do our best work when our clients speak up in discovery with examples of loves, loathes, likes and dislikes. How can we make sure our clients are ready to work with a copywriter? Is there any prep work we can do that helps you do a kick-butt job?

 
A) It’s great to use discovery to guide the client to consider what they need in website content. But, in the name of efficiency, don’t screen the writer from the organization. If practical, ask the writer to visit on site. If not, at least include the writer in phone conversations or online chats.

Another useful preparatory step is to ensure everyone understands the process and schedule—how many drafts will be passed back and forth, the schedule for providing feedback and making changes, and the like. There is no “right” way to do this, as long as everyone is working under the same assumptions.
 

Q) What is one, must-have for providing the best online content possible in 2016?

 
A) Put the needs of your audience first. Everything on your website will flow from there.