Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Next stop: your website

I recently joined a website as a new member but found the site overwhelming. Where am I going to start? How do I really know what I'm looking for and how are you going to ensure that I find it? Here are a few tips for web developers and content generators.

1. Make sure that your search function is working
If I go to your website and type something into the search box I'd like to have a list of resources on your website.

2. Consider a short instructional video giving me a tour
Typically when I register for a website I'm asked what my interests are. Why not have a guided tour created in a program like Adobe Captivate that can give me a quick overview of where I can find your content.

3. Have your contact information readily available, mainly, an e-mail address
Since I'm busy and on the go, if I'm looking for a resource at your website, I'll most likely send you an e-mail and expect an answer, not a generic response, within 48 hours. If I'm really under pressure, I'll pick up the phone, but don't make me search for it because I might not be back.

4. Don't make me scroll through pages of text.
I'm not a fan of scrolling through pages of text to see what's new. Keep a list of trending topics at the top of your page and link me somewhere else instead of posting five, two-page stories on a single web page.

5. Make sure your web developers aren't in a silo.
A web developer may be great at their job but are they a content expert? Have they obtained input from the content expert or end user on how they'd like content posted and displayed? Talk to one another before you make something final and come to find out that it's nonsensical and nonfunctional.

What do you expect from websites? Do you have examples of great sites to share?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2010 Great Ideas Conference Experience

I had the opportunity to attend the ASAE Great Ideas Conference in Colorado Springs over the last 3 days. I attended sessions on social media, online communities, crowd sourcing, staff and volunteer satisfaction, tweetups, and the future of publications. Several individuals have already written blogs with their perspectives. I am now offering my own.

My biggest takeaways

1. Don't worry be crappy.

It pains me so much to continue to delay launch dates because everything has to be perfect. I would rather roll out a partly completed product or service, allow members or staff to provide feedback and provide opportunity for feedback and improvement. Holding back in this area continues to stifle innovation and further delay the indispensability of an organization to its membership.

2. Thank your staff and vounteers

No matter the commitment for volunteers (a single day, week, month, or multi-year commitment) say thank you. If you or your organization brought a group of people together to develop a product or offering, share it with he volunteers for free instead of having them come to you.

3. Lack of autonomy in the work place

Look at all your organization's rules that hinder autonomy. Why do you have the rules you do? Dress code? Personal use of work equipment and time? Consider reviewing these rules and see if they are really needed. Releasing the control may show your employees that you care about them as people, not just machines and blobs.

4. Print isn't dead?

I heard that print will be dead when ALL text books go digital or when all the individuals that love paper, magazines, newspapers, and printed documents are dead. While I see some truth to that statement I think that more options need to be given to association members to opt out of print publications including journals, newsletters, fliers, brochures, promotional materials, etc... Most, if not all, of these documents are created in programs that can be made into PDFs. You'll even have additional functionality by turning on live links and continuing to give your members a tour of your website.

Organizations also need to be better about providing tables of contents with relevant, chunked information where members can cherry pick what they'd like to receive electronically.

5. Member satisfaction

My favorite idea lab that I attended gave 9 great questions for assessing volunteer satisfaction within your organization. These questions each have a 10-point likert scale where 1 is strongly disagree and 10 is strongly agree.

a. Staff and senior volunteer leadership acts with authenticity and inspires trust.

b. Negative volunteers are not promoted into leadership positions or indulged for their behavior.

c. The organization provides a wide variety of ways to get involved as a volunteer with a range of time commitments.

d. The organization supports and nurtures the personal and professional development of volunteers.

e. Staff makes an effort to understand the intrinsic motivations of each volunteer and to ensure that their personal goals for volunteering are met.

f. There are many ways to volunteer with a wide variety of commitment levels.

g. The organization provides an environment that actively encourages the development of personal and professional relationships between volunteers.

h. Volunteers are routinely given fun, creative, and rewarding work to do.

i. The organization and staff demonstrate genuine appreciation for volunteers and their contributions.

I would highly recommend this conference to you and your colleagues. ASAE & The Center provide a great atmosphere for networking, growth and learning, within your area of focus and outside of it, and top notch speakers at opening and closing sessions. Thanks to each and every one of you who shared your great ideas with me. I hope to see you next year at the BROADMOOR resort in March 2011.

Virtually ~ Tom

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Working" multiple jobs

I was surprised to hear that individuals in MN are among the highest in the nation to work multiple jobs. I provided my perspective today and found this story fascinating. What are your thoughts? Do you work multiple jobs because you need to, want to, or that's just how you are?