Why these two NTEN sessions are worth your vote

I’m excited to have two session proposals in the mix for the 2012 NTEN conference in San Francisco. Voting is open, and I appreciate your support.

Is it time to redesign your web site?
How to tell and how to fix it

This is an idea that Farra Trompeter and I hatched last year, and I’m looking forward to working with her on it. Farra is a top-notch session facilitator. The last time we presented together, she structured the session thoughtfully and coached us into being the most well-prepared panel I’ve ever been part of. You are in excellent hands with her, and you will learn exactly what she says you will.

Content strategy: A case study of creating content with a purpose

This is a continuation of the all the learning I’ve done about content strategy over the past year. We’ve gotten through the build and launch of our new site with a new content strategy to guide us. Now we’re figuring out what it means to live with one, day in and day out.  I don’t know exactly what lessons we’ll have to share with you by April, but that just makes it more exciting, right? It’s likely to be a mix of straight-up results and organizational lessons.

Thanks for checking them out and for voting for them — you wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance to make me do more work, would you?


EDF launches a new web site!

Posted on August 15, 2011 Under Management

This explains my posting silence over the past several weeks. Here’s a look at the old, left, and the new (click through for larger views):



Improvements you might notice: (more…)


A book that changed my life: Don’t Make Me Think

This month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival asks a deceptively simple question: What one book has most influenced my professional life?

I didn’t have to think too hard about this one — it’s Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug.

Why this book? It’s ostensibly a book about web design, but Krug exposes a fundamental truth for any communicator: If you are trying to implant an idea in someone’s brain or get them to do something, you have to understand what they experience, and make it as easy as possible for them do what you want.

And when you look hard at what they experience, you find:

  • They are busy and distracted and don’t care about you nearly as much as you do.
  • They don’t read much.
  • You can learn a lot from honestly observing people.

These are underlying principles that good communicators and marketers know like they know breathing, but for me, this book stands out for two reasons.

First, if you need a refresher, it’s really refreshing! It’s fun and easy to read, partly because Krug follows his own advice throughout the book. And I love his optimism in the face of constraints: If people blow by your lovingly crafted home page like they would speed past a billboard, his solution is, “Design a great billboard!”

Second, because of those qualities, it’s a great book to recommend to others — I’m responsible for at least a dozen copies being bought (you’re welcome, Steve!). It’s accessible and painless and a good way to get people thinking about user-centered anything.

So if it’s not on your shelf, do add it, and I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone who has already read it.

Update: Eve over at Beaconfire picked this as her book to write about, too! Brilliant. :)


Top 3 Most Helpful Content Strategy Resources

Developing a content strategy was a new challenge, and I found myself turning to a few resources over and over. In case you, too, are ready to embark on this challenge, here are my trusty companions: (more…)


Content Strategy: What it is and why you need one

Plan, by Flickr user Tintern


Last year when we embarked on our redesign (still in progress!), we tried to prioritize. We asked, “If we could redo only one component of the site, which would it be?”

We didn’t pick graphic design, or information architecture, or even our aging publishing platform. We thought the best way to improve key metrics was to re-think the site’s content. To us, that meant not only the text of the articles, but the use of images, videos, micro-copy, interactive graphics and features — all the material on the site that helps convey ideas.

That led us off in search of a different kind of redesign. Along the way, we learned a new phrase, “content strategy,” and met a few “content strategists.” This approach has become a powerful tool for us, so I thought I’d share how we got here.

(more…)


Social Media Guidelines, One Year Later

Posted on March 31, 2011 Under Social Media

by Flickr user kmiller799

A year ago, we pulled together a team at EDF to create our social media guidelines. The all-time most popular post on this blog tells how and why we did it, so I thought I’d share an update.

The best news is that it they seem to be working. They’re part of our new employee and intern orientation materials. Since we released them, we have not had any social media disasters big enough that I’ve heard about them!

Last week, spurred by conversations at the NTEN conference, we revisited the guidelines. (more…)


Key Takeaways: Data Don’t Have to Be Boring 2011 NTC Session

Posted on March 24, 2011 Under Online Content

This session covered a lot of ground through back-and-forth with both the panel and the attendees, which was great. Felicity Simmons of the Lucile Packard Foundation did a nice job keeping the conversation flowing.

I was most interested in the conversation about how to extract the most powerful, portable visualizations from a complex set of data. Kurt Voelker of Forum One raised the issue, flagging the problem that so much great data lives only in text-heavy PDF files. Some tips that got tossed out: (more…)


Key Takeaways: 2011 NTC Segmenting Session

This session was called “A Scientist in Your Communications Department,” and  Jeff Shuck, the presenter, had a ton of energy and insights to share. (It looks like the whole video is posted so you can see for yourself!)

Sally Heaven over at Convio posted her takeaways from this session, too. All the points she listed were ones I had written down, too, but I had somewhat different top takeaways: (more…)


Key Takeaways: NTC Session “What Does the Data Say?”

I’m going to highlight some of the insights I starred in my notes at last weekend’s conference here in D.C.  First up is a session called “What Does the Data Say? Converting Analytics to Action,” moderated by George Weiner of DoSomething.org.

The underlying premise is that we should use data to drive decisions within our organizations. With that in mind, here are my takeaways: (more…)


RFPs: My 3 Requests For Vendors Responding to Them

Posted on March 9, 2011 Under Management

To follow up from my earlier post giving three lessons for people issuing RFPs, here are three requests I’d like to make of the people answering them. (more…)