More Bang For Your Buck: Nonprofit Web Design Principles

22 01 2010

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More Bang For Your Buck

Nonprofit Web Design Principles

As a nonprofit organization, you’ve done so much with so little for so long that I’m betting you can do just about anything with nothing forever. Here are a few simple Web design principles to stretch your buck and flex your NPO muscle.

Keep it simple: First thing’s first, pretend like you know nothing about your site and consider how readily apparent your intent is. Is your purpose clear enough that a first time visitor, with little knowledge about your organization, can find your site and move to act?

Be sure to let them know what’s in it for them upfront. Spell it out for your audience so they don’t miss an opportunity to the dreaded “curse of knowledge.”

“Pare down your homepage content and give them a concise, yet clear and accurate taste of what you’re about.” – Network for Good.

Enable users: Next, enable your users! As a nonprofit, you need all the help you can get to cut down the costs of overhead. Make sure your site is readily accessible for interested parties. Ensure easy to find links, tabs or widgets for your respective needs.

Make your Site contribution-friendly: If you need volunteers or donations, ensure you have a tab that streamlines the donation process. The Salvation Army puts the bucket in your face; they won’t make you look for it – hopefully. Also, don’t limit your visitors to monetary gifts. An anecdotal story for your media kit might be worth more than a fistful of change.

For instance, the March of Dimes’ Shareyourstory.org allows users to donate experience instead of monetary contributions. This allows a sense of community and volunteering without exhausting member’s wallets and it reduces the cost of content.

Make your Site media-friendly: While you are at it, throw a media link up on your NPO’s Site. If you have a talented writer, throw in a media kit. If you have a fancy Web guy, throw in some digital media to lure in the press or an NPO-friendly blogger.

Use free resources: Actually, since we’re on the subject, don’t over work your Web guy. Why not use the free applications that already exist? Want to host a photo-petition but don’t have the storage space? Why not enlist Flickr? That’s what Oxfam did according to Britt Bravo’s blog, Have Fun, Do Good.

There seem to be plenty of low budget methods out there if you’re creative enough, just don’t forget the first thing you learned in college economics. Actually, it’s something that anyone with a bank account already knows – resources are scarce, and the cost of every expenditure is the price of the next best option foregone. Even if you have the resources to spare, it’s better to make every penny ride as long as it can in this market. Simple Web design can increase the effectiveness of your nonprofit.





Scared of Presentations?

24 11 2009

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Scared of Presentations?

5 Easy Steps Towards Better Presentation Skills

Everyone has heard the urban legend that states “more people are afraid of public speaking than death.”

Thanks to blogger and Toast Master Richard Garber, I was able to locate the well cited date in The 14 Worst Human Fears list in the 1977 Book of Lists. In the study, 41 percent of people feared speaking before a group, while only 19 percent feared death comparitively. This data was skewed into the “more people are afraid of public speaking than death” urban legend we hear today.

Tirelessly, I looked for some data along these lines, but I was unable to find any such figures; however, I dug up an article in the Archives of General Psychology that claimed that one in three respondents reported “excessive anxiety” when they spoke to “large audiences. This study, conducted by three doctors with impressive acronyms, also reported that the onset of this fear appeared in half of the study by 13 years of age and that 90 percent of participants in the study were shaking at the podium by the age of 20.

I thought I’d do my part to relieve this anxiety by making presentations a little easier with these personal tips. These tips are loosely  based on George Mason University’s The Short Guide To Effective Presentations.

So here is the skinny.

1. Know your mission: Determine your purpose by establishing what you want your audience to know and how you would like them to act on this knowledge.

2. Establish your target: (target audience that is) Analyze your audience and tailor your message according to their age, education level, knowledge about your topic and attitude toward the topic.

3. Gather intelligence: Gather enough information to write an effective presentation, then adjust the information as to avoid overwhelming the audience with too much information. Remember, it’s better to recall all of some, than none of all.

4. Operational pictures: Add interest with relevant images. Never add a photo that doesn’t add to the message or embody the emphasis of the topic. Only use charts, graphs or illustrations if they are simple enough to understand and increase the audience’s understanding.

5. Train: Practice, practice, practice and then? Practice! Ideally, research your topic until you feel like an expert. When you feel comfortable with the content, run through the presentation. Preferably, practice out loud with your visuals. If at all possible, record your practice and make notes about eye contact, movements, uses of gestures, tone, enthusiasm, pace and voice projection.

Quicksprout blogger, Neil Pate, points out that this recorded practice run can be a great tool to catch errors because You usually don’t notice when you say ‘uhm,’ ‘ah,’ or any other useless word frequently, but the audience does. It gets quite irritating.” Pate also recommends that you “Show some movement – People are more engaged with an animated speaker.”

A quick word on the visuals – I’ve never fancied myself as a great writer, but I’m a solid writer. More importantly, I’m good with visuals and drawing interest. I’m not saying that visuals will carry your presentation, but visuals can garner attention and carry interest through your content. For expert advice on your visual layout and slides, most specifically for PowerPoint and Keynote, I recommend that you check out Presentation Zen.

The visual rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Pate warns, Whatever your visuals may be, keep them simple and don’t put too many words on them. The audience isn’t there to read your slides; they are there to listen to you present.”

If you need more insight, this You Tube video provides comical parody into the problems associated with, in this instance, PowerPoint presentations and zealous naivety.





Revolution!

19 10 2009

revolution

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Revolution: (noun) rev·o·lu·tion [ rèvvə lsh’n ](rev·o·lu·tions)

  1. overthrow of government
  2. major change
  3. complete circular turn

This is my first, of hopefully many, post announcing the SK2.0 direction. I’ve changed up the SK site to be a little less journalism and a lot more public relations oriented. The scope of this blog is more focused to discuss public relations and strategic communications, specifically for non-profits and veterans issues.

The revolution has begun. So, there may not be the undermining of an established order, per say, but there is going to be a major change and a coming of full circle for the SK site. So let’s let this revolution unfold, or come full circle if I may, and let the first shots ring out and echo in the silence of the net.