It won't be long until our communication vehicles all come with a screen. I recently read a blurb from Bill Gates indicating that text books will become a thing of the past. Students of all ages will have some type of personal gadget that will allow them to get everything online. Television as we know it today will probably become extinct and instead, tens of thousands of TV-like "channels" will be available on line. Billboards in Cincinnati are now digital. It won't be long until every car comes with a GPS and it will be able to target advertising specific to your interests. What will vary the most is the size of your screen.
As soon as one dares to post trends or best practices, things will be different. But for right now, give some thought to these suggestions as you develop your websites and digital communication messages.
- Clean, simple design -- Don't clutter up every inch of space. Think about the value of white space just as you would in print materials
- Strong, bold brand image -- Let the world know who you are.
- Use graphics -- A picture can tell a thousand words. Let it. Don't list 1000 words of text.
- Easy navigation -- Direct the user where to go. Don't make them guess where something is on your page. Spend the time developing an organized site map. Make the site map avialable so if someone has a specific need, he can find it immediately
- Utilize a search engine -- A must!
- Provide accessible resources -- As a link. Resist the urge to post every single thing about your organization. If someone needs to find something with greater detail, let them know how or provide ways for them to delve into deeper information.
- Design material for the web -- Spend the time and money to develop things for the web and avoid putting things in PDFs.
- Be Realistic
- Engage the user -- Have the user be a participant by viewing videos, downloading widgets, listening to podcasts, etc.
- Tell a compelling story -- No one wants to be bored!
- Change information frequently -- No one wants to come back and see the same information is there weeks/months/years later.
- Call the user to action to experience more -- Provide contact forms, blogs, response devises. Allow the user to interact.
- Feature real people -- Provide video testimonials, use candid photos rather than stock photos, use bloggers to post realistic experiences, etc.
- Find a way for users to connect with other like-minde people
- Provide social networking opportunities
- Feature audio and video podcasts
- Provide streaming video
- Use blogs
- Develop virtual learning opportunities
- Develop a public site and a private password protected site
- Create community!
The web has really become a new community. Everyone can find other people they relate to and share things in common. Your website can be an extension of your organization but make it inviting and engaging. It should be more than a source for information. It should provide value and benefit for participants.
Take a look at websites that you like. Pay attention to those you don't like. Compare the two. Was one more interesting to look at? Was key information easy to locate? Did the search engine provide the results you were looking for? Did you get involved with the site? Would you go back? Did it provide useful tools?
Here's a few sites worth taking a look at:
Angie's List at www.angieslist.com is a membership-based site for you to get valuable information on home repair services. There is outstanding animated explanation of how Angie's List works, clear navigation, and extremely useful content, especially for those who are willing to pay the membership fee. And why wouldn't you? It is a good value.
Butler University's College of Business wanted to provide a realistic look at college life. They profiled two first-year students for their first semester at college through a 12-part "vodcast" (video podcast) series. It is fun, engaging, educational, interactive, and provies a realistic view of the first-year experience. Check out www.butler.edu/vodcast.
Educating young people about peer pressure is an important goal. Above the Influence provides a great, creative website that truly engages the user. There is a lot of ways for participants to interact: quizzes, games, downloads, podcasts, dynamic flash content, photo galleries with the opportunity to send in photos, and useful educational material. Take a look at www.abovetheinfluence.com.
If you don't know where or how to start, just ask people, particularly those who use your site. Measure the performance through a system such as Google Analytics to track the traffic, to assess which pages people are using, to determine what is the most useful content. If no one ever links to something, then why have it on the site? Clean it up.
Looking to take the next step? MediaSauce can help. We help businesses and organizations communicate their message in a powerful and effective way. We specialize in the use of emerging technology. Our creative and technical staff members are the best at what they do. And best of all, MediaSauce will be your partner. We will be as committed to your success as you are. For more information, go to www.mediasauce.com and let us help you.