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 During the phase, you would have uncovered cases of redundant, outdated, or redundant trivial (known as a ROT analysis).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.

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

clientrevisions-blogpost

There is nothing like a great, initial discovery session with a client. You feel inspired by their passion, they in turn are excited about your ideas for bringing their goals to life, online. The requirements are set. The deadlines are agreed to. The stakeholders have all been interviewed. There’s just one problem: Never-ending revisions.

Let’s be honest, revisions are vital. No one wants to navigate a website that is riddled with errors, inaccurate information, or broken links.  Nothing ruins your online reputation faster than a website that does not appear to be legitimate or professional.

However, a poor revision process can completely jeopardize a successful website launch, as well as its ongoing maintenance.

Here are our eight tips for avoiding and eliminating never-ending revisions.

1.) Set boundaries:

From the initial contract, statement of work, or scope document- make sure that your client is aware and in agreement of the amount of revisions that their project allows. And, be clear as to what is entailed in each round of revisions.

  • Do you allow only one page of edits?
    Or, will you accept 10 pages of edits in one document as a round of revisions?
  • Who will you accept edits from? Everyone who wants to send edits, or one dedicated project manager?
  • How many rounds of revisions are allowed for each deliverable?
    Wireframes? Design? Copy?
  • Should edits be sent in one, consolidated Word document, or do you allow clients to send you one-off edits in emails, Basecamp, and text messages?
  • After how many rounds of revisions do you start charging overage fees?
  • At what point should you flag your client to let them know that the deadline is in jeopardy?
  • How many days do you truly need to make revisions? And how many days does your client and their team need to review your work? Rushing through edits does nothing but lead to late nights and unnecessary mistakes.

2.) Know your client:

Some clients have one individual who is responsible for making all decisions. Others have groups of individuals who will review changes. Make sure that you know upfront who the key decision makers are, and what role they have in making editorial changes and granting approval. Nothing can impact your project faster than editing by committee.

3.) Go There:

Also-if your client is someone who works better in-person, meet with them. We often find that reviewing wireframes or design comps on-site with clients gives us the most thorough and definitive edits. And, be open to your client’s feedback. Respectfully defend your work, expertise, and decisions, but be even more respectful in supporting your client’s objectives and needs.

4.) Content is both political and personal:

As content drives information architecture, design, and development- it carries a lot of weight. Content is also a point of controversy and focus. Some of the most contentious content that we work with our clients on falls under the About Us and What We Do sections of their website. Everyone wants to make sure that their department is appropriately featured, and that the content truly fulfills their goals. We recommend having unique planning sessions to address hot topic content areas.

We also recommend that content editing focuses on four key areas:

  • Substance: This includes review of the cohesion and clarity of the content.
  • Copyediting: The nuts and bolts- typos, grammar, and consistency.
  • Fact checking and source cited: Give credit where credit is due, and ensure that the content is accurate.
  • SEO: Search engine optimization should be a part of both the writing and editorial process.

Please note: Designers are not editors. And editors are not designers. Make sure that major content changes are addressed with your writers, and that design feedback happens with your creative team. When possible, streamline these edits through the dedicated project manager.

5.) Don’t forget analytics:

When clients get stuck on where something should or should not go on the website, always refer back to your analytics as well as what you’ve heard through surveys, focus group, social media, etc. from those that care about your content most: your consumers.

6.) Be clear:

To make revisions work between web partners and clients, be clear about revisions. Clients should avoid ambiguity (not sure what we want here, but we don’t like the way it is)and adding questions in revisions (do you think this should be adding value, or providing services?). And, don’t be afraid to show examples from other sites or projects that you like.

7.) Set a schedule:

During the web project, use your project plan to clearly identify the editing process- both on the agency side and the client side. Be honest about turn-around times for both parties. After launch, set a clear schedule of when edits (those that can’t be made by the client themselves) will happen, and how long it will take for them to appear on the site.

8.) Speak now, but don’t forever hold your peace.

Every client wants to nail the launch of their website, or of a new content section. However, this should not mean delaying a project out of fear that something can’t be changed.

We see this a lot with new clients… They are coming from a negative experience with their previous web partner that was either unresponsive to editing requests, or- they were forced to manage their website in a cumbersome content management system. This is where it is imperative to share with your clients the ease of making additional edits, and even more important: Letting them know how many donations, sales, and connections they miss out on by allowing their same, old poorly performing website to stay online another day. No website should keep the same content. A dynamic, engaging site must stay updated. During those updates, edits and site upkeep should occur.   

A web project that never launches due to a never-ending revision cycle can ruin your budget, kill your deadline, jeopardize your business generation, and can reduce morale for your staff and your web partner.

Contact us today to create a revision cycle that works best for your needs.