The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

What Do Visitors Really Think of Your Website

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Mon, Dec 03, 2012

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Topics: web strategy, Ray van Hilst, Websites

Tap Into Emotional Design for a Remarkable Website

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Wed, Oct 24, 2012

Business websites – particularly staid, professional, work only sites like those for a professional association – are supposed to be about facts and figures. Not emotion. Right?

Wrong.

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Topics: web strategy, Ray van Hilst, user experience, emotional design, Websites

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

Content Marketing: Just Do It!

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Tue, Sep 18, 2012

One of the most powerful (and in my opinion, under attended) sessions at the ASAE Annual meeting in Dallas last month was Monica Bussolati’s presentation titled "The Hottest Tool in Member Retention: Content!"

I took notes, got Monica to do a quick video interview after the session, and had high hopes. I started drafing this post many times and yet, the words never made it online.  But then I realized that the first point of a content marketing strategy is to just do it!

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Topics: web strategy, ASAE, Ray van Hilst, bussolati, Websites, content strategy

The Conference-Klout Experiment: The Results Show

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Thu, Sep 06, 2012

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Topics: web strategy, ASAE, Ray van Hilst, Uncategorized, twitter, Klout, Experiment, social media

The Klout-Conference Connection

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Fri, Aug 03, 2012

I know. I know. I whined in an earlier post about my Klout score going down. But then I realized…

I’m going to #asae12 next week!

(also known as “ASAE 2012 Annual Meeting” for the hashtag impaired)


When I attend conferences or education events, I’m one of those people with the iPhone/iPad/computer busy tweeting away comments, asking questions, and nodding my head in agreement up at one of my fellow attendees’ Tweets.

So I wondered… “What is this going to do to my Klout score? What is the cumulative effect on Klout scores for all of the Tweeps actively participating?”

Which leads us to the Conference/Klout Connection Experiment.

    • Capture pre-meeting Klout scores and Twitter Profiles

    • Follow-up after the meeting to collect Klout scores and other data

    • Analyze and see if there are patterns in the changes (or if there even are any changes)

If you are curious and want to participate, fill out this quick survey.


Then Tweet away and have fun. After the meeting, I’ll email everyone with the link to the post-meeting survey.

And if you would like to discuss or take a look at some of the preliminary results – Tweet me (@rvanhilst) or come by the Higher Logic booth (booth #617) where I will be hanging out.

Oh…. And thanks for participating in my experiment.


Disclaimers:

    • This experiment is for fun, curiosity and information only. Unless you request it, I will only email you to follow-up or share the results. 

    • Vanguard Technology is a Higher Logic Solutions Partner and will be participating in their booth.

Ray van Hilst is Director of Client Strategy and Marketing at Vanguard Technology. Connect with him @rvanhilst or rvanhilst(at)vtcus.com.


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Topics: ASAE, Ray van Hilst, Uncategorized, twitter, Klout, Experiment, social media

Take Charge and Define Your Metrics

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Mon, Jul 30, 2012

With giddy anticipation, I recently opened an email from the social influence site Klout hoping for a new Klout perk (What would it be? A magnet, a new sticker, or offer for some hipster clothing line my 42-year-old body doesn’t fit into??)

However, hopes were dashed as I noticed it was my “Weekly Influence Summary”:

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Topics: web strategy, Ray van Hilst, Uncategorized, Klout, Metrics, web operations, Authors, analysis, Google Analytics, Websites

Do's and Don'ts of Website Redesigns

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Tue, May 15, 2012

 

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Topics: mmcc, ASAE, Ray van Hilst, Tactics, ASRT, Delcor, website redesign, project management, Websites

Digital & Mental Spring Cleaning

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Wed, Mar 28, 2012

It’s that time of year to open the windows, grab the cleaning supplies and wipe away the stale air and grime of winter occupying our homes as we look forward to days spent outdoors.

So it is only appropriate that over the past few days, I’ve taken on some “Digital Spring Cleaning” of my own.  As I synced my iPhone I got a notice I had 70 app updates.  I didn’t even know I owned that many apps!! So I took a quick look to see what could go away to make room for the next round of digital innovation.

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Topics: web strategy, Ray van Hilst, association website design, Websites, content strategy

Find Your Association's Creative Strategy for Social Media

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Wed, Feb 01, 2012

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Topics: web strategy, ASAE, Ray van Hilst, Delcor, video, Kiki L'Italien, social media, Pinterest

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