People use websites to make decisions—from what product to buy to what health treatment to seek.  When someone consults a website, there is a precious opportunity not only to provide useful information but also to influence their decision. To make the most of this opportune moment, web professionals need to understand the rhetorical concept of kairos… saying or doing the right thing at the right time.”
via A List Apart: Articles: Words that Zing.
I often find myself trying to explain to my clients how writing for the web is different than other types of writing. Often it boils down to the need to be direct and clear, use the active voice, include scannable subheads, usable links, and calls to action.
In this delightful article on A List Apart, Colleen Jones explains how words weave together to enable the web visitor to hit your ideal target. This creative and focused use of copy is just as critical to a satisfying and usable web experience as visual design and information design.
Its the third leg of the usability stool.
She provides some great examples, particularly in regards to healfh care copywriting. Having spent a couple years as the web designer for OHSU’s Center for Women’s Health, I have struggled with crafting engaging and accurate health content that is actionable and not scary.She provides some great snippets from STD websites that show how varying approaches affected outcomes.
One struggle she doesn’t include in this article is getting buyin from the client, who often do include medical professionals and administrators who feel it should
- just like the print version
- written to their level of education
- include every little detail.
- look like the website they built in 1997
But that is the topic for another blog.
1. Illegible text. I can’t read that, it’s too small. And what on earth is that font called?
2. Busy backgrounds. Oh MySpace, why do you allow users to create profiles like that? My eyes hurt.
3. Obscure links. I’m confused, can I click on that or not? Oh I get it, you don’t want me to view other pages.
4. Flyouts that are too large. Holy crap Yahoo! This is a page within a flyout!
5. Drop-down menu navigation too many levels deep. OK, if I slowly move my mouse this way first… dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not a magician!
6. Complicated navigation. I just want to get to that page, the one over there! Oh I see, you want me to complete the maze first.
via The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today | UXbyDesign.org.
Experience is a riverbed,
Its source hidden, forever flowing:
Its entrance, the root of the world,
The Way moves within it:
Draw upon it; it will not run dry.
via TAO TE CHING – Chapter 06. Experience – ZENGUIDE.COM.
I’ve been thinking recently of the concept of how Twitter and Facebook, sometimes derided as a narcisstic form of communication, offer us flowing streams of observation. Many voices contribute to the stream, and it is always changing, yet always there.
Like a river. Like the Tao.
So now, if we wish it, our life streams can be mirrored in social media. Daily experiences come and go and are recorded. Inspiration, observation and education can easily be shared with others.
This flow has changed the way we experience our glories, laughs and disappointments. Within hours of losing my job last spring, I had many statements of sympathy and support. Plus a network of resources and friends to call on who were not at my last job. It gave me great strength and was empowering.
This week I offered support to friend who lost her mom, another who has family members facing cancer and learned about a benefit for a musician in Chicago I hadn’t met. And was able to help share information on how to share with victims of an earthquake. This did not feel self-centered to me, this feels like community. And it feels strong.
Yes, social media is a great marketing tool, and yes, there are some people who make money at it. But that’s not the point.
The point is creating a real community. The point is the flow of life, not money. The point is being together and helping each other out. The point is to enjoy the river’s flow and if you’re brave enough — dive in. Be embraced by the stream and let it support you. We are all in this together.
May we each be granted the gift of attention.
“I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me…shapes and ideas so near to me…so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down…”
via Georgia O’Keeffe – the young artist.
One of my favorite artists, Georgia really set the stage for a new vision in America. This brief bio of her early life outlines her education and evolution. I didn’t know she spent a brief period as a commercial artist in Chicago in 1908.
Find fans and friends for your business
You may already be a Facebook fiend or perhaps you have have just heard about it. But did you know that you can now build a page for your business? enIt’s a great way to expand your marketing campaign, drive traffic to your website, increase page visibility on search engines and enable your clients and friends to spread your marketing message.
Best of all, it’s free!
Your business page will collect fans who spread the word about your business to their friends on Facebook and elsewhere the web.
Sirius Media created one recently and keep it fresh with interesting design finds, marketing discoveries, promotions and updates about our work. It’s been fun!
You can start building your business page today.
All it takes is some thought, planning and investing a little bit of time to get going.
1 Before you build your business page, gather some information to include on the page: company logo, a link to your website, address, hours, phone numbers, email address, business services offered, and areas of specialty.
2 Sign up for a Facebook account (or use your existing account) then click the link that says “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business” on the home page or at the bottom of the left hand column on your page. You will be directed to a series of pages to fill in business information gathered in step 1.
3 When the site is ready for content, what do you post? Try to keep information fresh, fun and relevant to your specialty. Here are some ideas:
- Photos of products or services (viewing photos is the #1 online activity in social media!)
- New services or products
- Sales and promotions
- Design updates, whether interior, web or print.
- Community or instore events
- Day to day work updates, comments, insights
- Useful information others might enjoy
4 Once you have the page built, the logos posted, and a few words to share, invite Facebook friends to come be fans of your business page. Post photos, links or videos often to keep them returning to your page and encourage them to share your page with others. That’s how you build some buzz. Use facebook buttons and links on your website and in your email marketing to build the following for your new business page.
5 As soon as you reach 25 fans, sign up for your customized user name at www.facebook.com/username. You’ll be able to signup for a custom url using a name you choose, like www.facebook.com/SiriusMedia, unless it has been claimed already. Don’t let someone beat you to your chosen identity. Claim your online brand on facebook as soon as you can.
If you need help, or don’t have time, just remember that Sirius Media provides Social Media services to get your business going with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other social site. We can help you figure out what to say, how often and to whom. We’ll help create your page, upload your logo and images, help with starter messages and provide guidelines for future updates.
40 Incredibly Useful Web Design Tools You Should Use Daily
from the Graphic and Web Design Blog.
Whether you seek code, icons or inspiration, you will find it here. At the risk of blogging about another blog, this is a great little toolkit. Lots of AJAX inspiration, CSS examples, and more. I’ll be coming back time and again to solve problems.
“What we find changes who we become” are the words written across the top of information architect Peter Morville’s book, Ambient Findability. These important words remind us that each experience, each sentence is a possible platform for change in our readers.
via A List Apart: Articles: You Can Get There From Here: Websites for Learners.
Interesting essay by Amber Simmons on A List Apart explores how the web fulfills expectations for educational discovery. She and I have both spent hours of our childhood browsing the encyclopedia.
HolidayChecklist2009.pdf application/pdf Object.
One of my email vendors, iContact, includes useful tips on crafting effective email marketing campaigns. They just sent out this checklist with advice for holiday email campaigns that I found useful, so I am sharing it with you.
I have found iContact to be very cost effective for larger lists and easy to use.
After Presentation Camp this week, I’ve been poking around SlideShare, a repository for powerpoint presentations.
One of the speakers had mentioned this slide set and I saw it on the top ten list. It is an excellent presentation about how social media has grown and changed the way we communicate.
It is also a great example of one-bullet-point-per-photograph presentation style that is very effective and keeps the focus on the speaker while engaging the audience. It takes a lot of work to find so many engaging photos, but it sure intrigues and entertains the audience. Since the slides are simple, it also keeps the pace quick and flowing.
It is designed by Marta Kagan of brand agency Espresso, whose blog the Secret Diary of a Marketing Genius has lots of great insights. Excellent work, Marta!
The Problem of Privacy
In case you hadn’t noticed, Facebook has exploded and is starting some personal wildfires.
Family members are showing up online along with friend requests from high school ‘frenemies’. You’ve been sharing your wildest dreams and crazy antics with your inner circle online for years, but the world has arrived. The lure of creating a fabulous page describing your fascinating private life now has its drawbacks.
Now making a Facebook friend is somewhat touchy. Do you want this potential client to see your pleasure party pictures? Should your friends’ dubious gangster friend be able to see your precious baby niece’s photos? Are you really sure Grandma’s ready to know you moved in with your masseuse? We all need some privacy in our lives.
In real life, we succeed in our relationships and protect our privacy by adjusting our behavior and filter news to fit each situation. It works pretty well, most of the time.
This virtual blurt of personal data has been an unintentional godsend for hiring managers, marketeers, potential dates and old buddies from our past. Now that Facebook has become mainstream, even your Grandma has an account and wants to friend you. And you’ve been nagging her to get online for years. Uh-oh.
How do you limit the types of information each group sees?
Control Who Sees What About You
There is a way to have a safe page for Grandma and still share your wacky happy hour pics with your friends by limiting types of information viewed by anyone visiting your page on Facebook, depending on the friends list they belong to.
You can also block anyone from seeing you at all on Facebook — they don’t see your posts, your tagged images, or find you when searching. These two techniques provide the control you need to enjoy Facebook, enjoy your friends, get hired at your next job, hide from your ex and stay out of trouble.
Create a Friends List
Before you can customize your privacy settings you need to sort your Facebook friends into friends lists.
- Start by logging on to your Facebook page, go the Friends page, then select All Connections right under Search all Friends at the upper left corner.
- Across the top of All Connections, select the option for Create New List. You’ll then name your list and select who belongs to it. One person can be in multiple lists, so don’t worry too much about sorting people out.
- Save your lists and close the window.
Your friends lists will appear on your menu on the left hand side. If you have a large number of connections, it provides a way to filter some of the news if you want.
Customize Privacy Settings
From the top menu, under Settings, choose Privacy Settings, then select Profile.
- The top three options: Profile, Basic Info and Personal Info only provide general categories, so take a look at those settings. For Profile and Basic Info, I allow my Networks and Friends to see this information, so they can know what I do and contact me for work. My personal info is only available to Friends, after I’ve accepted them.
- The settings for content you post or others post about you is where the friends lists come handy. For Status and Links, Photos tagged of You, Videos tagged of You, Wall Posts, Education or Work Info, choose the Custom drop down to open the window Who Can See This.
- Choose the options for Some Friends to use one of your friends lists or an individual name.
- Save settings before closing.
Block the Unwanted
It’s unavoidable in life, when you’ve lived long enough. There are just some people you’d rather not see anymore.
On the Privacy page, right on the front there is a window that allows you to Block People or Block Email.
This is a lifesaver for anyone trying to begin a new life after a bad relationship, avoiding nasty family members or dodging someone whose been ugly to you. Use it if you need it.
Blog Long and Prosper
Implementing these tricks will go a long way to providing creative freedom where you need it, privacy in your private life, personal security and help you stay employable. Have fun my Facebook friends!