The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

7 Secrets of a Master Digital Story Teller

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Wed, Aug 21, 2013


Today's guest post is written by Susan Young, CEO at Get In Front Communications.  Connect with Susan on Twitter at @sueyoungmedia or by email.

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Topics: guest posts, web strategy, Communications, content strategy

Defining Your Markets for Campaign Efficiency

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Thu, Jun 27, 2013

Today’s guest post is written by Reina Munsch, Senior Director of Marketing at the American Pharmacists Association.

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Topics: web strategy, Communications, marketing, content strategy

5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Website

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Thu, Oct 04, 2012

“I always make sure that when my team touches a piece of content or collateral, they make it better than it was before. No matter how small the requested change is.”

I was inspired by this comment from Bennie Johnson, Global Chief Marketing Officer at the HR Certification Institute.

It’s a liberating concept.  We website managers look at the Herculean task of updating thousands of website pages and making the whole thing better.  Then throw our hands up in frustration.

But here’s a better approach… make a series of small improvements and over time you will change the whole thing.

Maybe all you’ve been asked to do is update a date or add a paragraph.  You only have 5 minutes and need to move on to the next task.  How can you possibly make an improvement on the page without this turning into a big deal?

Here are 5 quick fixes to can make while editing each page that over the long term will gradually improve the quality of your website.

1) Make Sure There Is a Visual Hierarchy

As you look at the page, are you SURE you know what the most important thing is on the page?  Or is all content given the same weight? Make sure the most important content or message is the most prominent, that related content is grouped together, and there is a flow through the page.

2) Clean up the Content to Make it “Web Friendly”

Web users only read 25% of the text on a page and scan pages rather than actually read them.  Take a few minutes to shorten the content, break into shorter paragraphs and highlight key content with bullets and/or bolding for emphasis.

3) Add Relevant Links to Other Pages in Your Site

The origin of the web was text documents that linked to each other. Look at the content on the page and find opportunities to embed text links to other relevant pages in your site.

4) Add SEO Meta Data and Plain English So the Page Can Be Found

Make sure the page has an appropriate description and keywords in the meta data.  Keep the description brief (under 160 characters) and write it from an outsider’s perspective.  Also make sure the content is free of insider jargon and uses plain English based on how external audiences would refer to the subject.

5) Add a Graphic or Photo to keep Users Engaged

Pages with graphics and photos grab users interest and keep them on the page.  Add a small photo or graphic to illustrate the content on the page.  Keep it under 200 pixels wide so it is noticeable but doesn’t detract too much.

Lastly, decide if the page needs more work than you can do right now. Every now and then you’ll come across a page that needs more attention than you can give it in 5 minutes. Decide if this is one of those pages and notify the page owner or subject matter expert that it needs a bigger review and update.

By making these small improvements in each site page as you update your content, you’ll find that over time you have improved the entire site.  If each journey begins with a first step, the path to a better website can be filled with many small improvements.

Additional Resources:

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Topics: Communications, Ray van Hilst, usability, Tactics, seo, messaging, Uncategorized, CMS, Websites

Vanguard's 2011 Holiday Productivity and Tech Tool Round Up

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Wed, Dec 21, 2011

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Topics: online tools, Communications, Ray van Hilst, Tactics, collaboration, productivity, association technology

Informz Users Conference Big Idea - Email Really IS Social

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Tue, Sep 20, 2011

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Topics: Communications, Ray van Hilst, Uncategorized, social media, informz, email marketing, social media guidelines

Guest Post: Do You Know Who Is Critical To The Success Of Your Project?

Posted by Chris Bonney on Tue, Oct 19, 2010

This month's guest post is by Joanie Muench, founder of 922inc, the preferred project resource for associations.

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Topics: web strategy, Communications, success, project management, associations

Guest Post: The Quest For The Amazon-Like User Experience

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, Mar 08, 2010

This is my first blog post for Vanguard Technology, so allow me to introduce myself. I’m an advocate for people who use Web sites. I help make sites more usable, through usability testing and user-centered design. If you don’t think people should need a secret decoder ring to understand a Web site, I agree. If you believe Web sites should give us what we want--quickly and easily--I’m with you.

I ask a lot of questions in my work. I always ask usability test participants what sites they like and what they like about them. I ask the same of clients who are planning a site redesign. I also ask associations how they think their site should serve the needs of their members, and I ask members what they want from their association’s site.

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Topics: web strategy, Communications, usability, Amazon, olkin communications, Websites, associations

Guest Post: The Truth About Recruiting Younger Members

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, Nov 30, 2009

What's been said on the topic

There was a lively discussion recently on the ASAE list serv about recruiting younger members and the difficulties around successfully accomplishing such a feat. Some felt it's a generational thing while others took the "kids these days" mindset. I was deeply impressed with one response on the list serv from a person who not only articulated the truth about recruiting younger members very succinctly, but used statistics to back it up.

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Topics: association laboratory, younger members, web strategy, ASAE, Communications, web 2.0, social media

Get A Behind-The-Scenes Look At What It Takes To Build A Community Online

Posted by Chris Bonney on Wed, Oct 21, 2009

I'll be part of a webinar put on by Higher Logic tomorrow, Thursday, October 22 at 1pm Central. It will be a case study webinar on the building of a community from the eyes of the association and the vendor. PromaxBDA recently launched a new website, community and custom awards module. Come to this webinar to find out what it really takes to get a Web 2.0 project off the ground. This one promises to be full of useful, real-world insights. Don't miss it.

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Topics: case study, promaxbda, vanguard technology, Communications, web 2.0, higher logic, social media, webinar, Websites

What's Your INTERNAL Social Networking Policy?

Posted by Chris Bonney on Wed, Jul 08, 2009

The use of external social networks (e. g. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn) within organizations for business purposes is increasing. Use this policy template to set employee expectations and establish guidelines for appropriate use of these applications within your association.

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Topics: download, Communications, checklist, social media, associations

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