Misty brings seven years of non-profit experience to her work with organizations during the launch, optimization, and redesign phases of their Web site development. She consults with clients on architecting usable and successful online experiences for constituents, informed by her Master's degree in Information Architecture at the University of Texas. In her time with Convio, she has worked with non-profit clients across the spectrum, from the American Red Cross (in a former position with Convio), the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, and Paralyzed Veterans of America, to the Trisomy 18 Foundation, Sacred Heart League, and Defenders of Wildlife. Misty's specialties include usability evaluations and testing methods for non-profits and architecting accessible Web sites for constituents with disabilities. Prior to joining the Convio team, she worked as the Information Architect, Content Manager, and writer for several University of Texas Web sites. Misty has a B.A. in English literature, Women's Studies, and Philosophy with honors from Southwestern University. Misty resides in snowy Portland, Maine, with her husband, dog, and cat.
Posted by Misty McLaughlin at Oct 11, 2011 04:14 PM CDT
Categories: Constituent Empowerment, Content Management, Email Marketing, Nonprofit Trends, Social Media, Usability
Last week at the Convio Summit, discussions of how to get started with mobile abounded. Mobile-savvy nonprofits inspired many of us with their interesting apps, from PETA’s mobile advocacy center to the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s collaborative BOOM app (in concert with Nike) to the Central Park Conservancy’s Insider’s Guide to the Park.
Sure, I’m as much of an app-aholic as the next smartphoner – even willing to pay for apps that deliver great charity content or interesting ways to get involved, particularly for causes I’m passionate about. Having just written a guide for nonprofits on getting started with mobile (co-authored with fellow Convian Lacey Kruger), I am also a realist with an argument to make, which is this:
Until your org has a strong, successful mobile-friendly version of your site available, offering a downloadable app shouldn’t even be on your radar screen.
To be even a bit more (kindly) cantankerous, I’d also say that any time you have a great new idea for an app, it’s worth contemplating first whether this service, or feature, or program could instead be delivered as a (non-app) mobile site.
Here’s the thing: Mobile strategy is, of course, tightly tied to your overarching engagement strategy, and it’s certainly a critical online channel (and as smartphone usage skyrockets around the globe, some are even predicting that mobile will become the online channel, surpassing desktop Web browsing). Despite this, an NTEN survey last year revealed that only 16% of orgs will have invested in a mobile version of their website in 2011, whereas 90% will have an email and social media strategy, and 19% will develop apps.
This means that nonprofits across the board are actively planning to drive traffic to their websites, their campaigns, their social media presences – without, in most cases, accounting for the fact that anywhere between 2% and 40% of constituents could be accessing their content and taking action on a handheld device. (For nonprofits with international constituencies, expect those numbers to be far higher in many countries.)
While mobile websites may not be as sexy as apps or sophisticated mobile engagement tactics like text-to-give, we consider having a mobile-optimized version of your Web presence and major campaigns or programs to be the foundation for effective campaigning – even effective email marketing.
My friend Lara Koch, whose full-time job at Humane Society of the United States is to own the organization’s mobile presence, has a policy on this: “If we direct people anywhere in a way they may use their mobile device, where we send them must be mobile-optimized. No exceptions.”
Bottom line: If your organization hasn’t invested in creating a mobile presence, but you’re thinking about campaign strategy for 2012, consider putting a mobile website foray at the top of your list. In many cases, you can develop a basic mobile site and optimize much of your content for mobile displays for $10,000 - $15,000, and then evolve your mobile presence iteratively over time, as you see how it performs and hear from your constituents. (For some contrast, developing a mobile app can run you $20,000 - $30,000 or more, considering the need to develop for multiple smartphone operating systems and browsers – and that doesn’t count paying for updates and iterations, provided that like most nonprofits, you don’t have an app developer on staff. And for mobile donations via iPhones and iPads, expect that Apple will take a 30% cut of your transactions.)
Wondering how to get started with mobilizing your main site, or a campaign or program? Or how to convince an app-happy exec to first pursue a mobile presence? Or how to even know if the investment will be worth it for your org?
Check out our Guide to the Mobile Web. If you’ve got an hour to spare next Thursday, October 20, I’d love to have you at a webinar on this very topic: Mobile Touches Everything. Or if you’re a mobile-ophile who just wants to talk shop, drop me a line!
Posted by Misty McLaughlin at Sep 16, 2008 04:54 PM CDT
Categories: Constituent Empowerment, Social Media
Did anyone catch the fantastic New York Times magazine story on Digital Intimacy two weeks ago? If not, it’s highly recommended reading for anyone who wonders how to get involved in This Thing Called Web 2.0, what kinds of motivators drive people to participate in online social networks, and why you should, too. Or not.
Clive Thompson gives some important milestones in the history of Facebook, from its early traditional pull-communication days (when you had to actually get online, navigate to Facebook, and look through your friends’ pages to find out what was going on with them – Old School, isn’t it?) to the evolution of News Feed, one of the first pre-Twitter push-communication mechanisms to actually deliver updates right to your…well, at least to one centralized place, your Facebook homepage. And then to your cell phone. And now, to your iphone, thanks to Loopt, Dopplr, Tumblr, Twitter, and the like.
In a nutshell, Thompson does a recent history of the collapse of push and pull communications into one concept called “ambient awareness,” or information delivery that’s integrated into our natural environments, rather than just the silo of your computer monitor. I love that this article speaks directly to many of us doubters, who wonder what could possibly be interesting about 20 updates a day on the quotidian, by explaining the sense of the subtle, the connectedness that can come from following someone else or blasting your own updates this way (aka microblogging).
(Confession: Yes, I did just stop writing this post to update Facebook. Misty is…writing a blog post on ambient awareness.)
I also appreciate, frankly, that this article takes on the division of intimate feeds versus more public presentation – one strategy for dealing with the social annihilation that too much of a good thing (too much information from people or causes you don’t care about, people who follow you assuming that they know you through your feed) can engender.
So what’s useful for nonprofits here? Well, back to Peter’s question of a few months ago: Should your organization have a Twitter strategy? In a nutshell, if I may weigh in: probably not. Twitter is a vehicle – not the trend or the impulse itself.
But should your organization have a strategy to promote ambient awareness of who you are, the work you’re doing, and how you’re changing the world? Well, yeah. If you can do it in a way that invites connectedness, community, and participation – Save the Baby Whales is…returning a beached Beluga to the North Atlantic – you have achieved the holy grail of Web 2.0.
To get you started, I recommend The Morning News’ rules for polite ambience (framed, of course, as all about Twitter Etiquette…ah well).
Posted by Misty McLaughlin at Aug 20, 2008 12:18 PM CDT
Categories: Constituent Empowerment, Usability
Current tally on our Presidential Hopefuls Online Scorecard: Obama 1 / McCain 0.
Thanks to Brandy Reppy for her expert rundown on each candidate's site's accessibility for visitors with disabilities.
Today, I’m going to rate JohnMcCain.com and BarackObama.com on their interactive pathways for engagement – in other words, what can I do to get engaged online, both before and after I become a supporter.
By now, we’re all used to seeing the “Get Involved” or “Take Action” utility boxes, usually at the right of the homepage, that tell us 5 ways we can support an org, 4 ways to act now, or one really important and three kind-of-but-not-quite-so important ways to get engaged. True to the genre of advocacy sites like the International Rescue Committee and FairTax, both Obama and McCain have chosen to present our interactive options clustered neatly in groups of 4 to 8 actions at the right of their design.
My Get Involved component becomes focused – instead of a cluster of ideas, I get a prioritized top-to-bottom list of what I should do, from least to greatest commitment, with (brief) annotations for each item so I know exactly what’s being asked of me. (Still, "A Cause Greater"? I must ask: "why so cryptic?")
Best of all is the information design of this component, which becomes a stand-in for my detailed Action Center dashboard. The horizontal white squares track my progress in each of these areas, allowing me at a glance to gauge my level of impact across many of my efforts.
Is anyone actually using this Action Center to this degree? I wonder. We’ll see how this plays out as the campaign unfolds, as people get engaged, and as these engagement tools are evolved based on what’s working and what’s not.
For now, JohnMcCain.com wins a point for strong engagement pathways.
Turning to My.BarackObama.com: Though this site is definitely a leader on many interactive fronts (beautiful design, clear areas of focus, strong nav), I was disappointed overall at the devices for getting engaged.
Obama.com does employ the interactive utility box (actually a couple of them) – to some degree the whole long right column is one big action-focused device – this is one area where more is less. To get to either this,
...which asks for participation in high-commitment activities like attending an event or donating, but doesn’t give you a sense of the breadth of ways to join or get involved. (Sign Up Now is happily included, but by this point you have already bypassed – or completed – signing up in order to enter the site in the first place).
After deciding to sign up for the rather unfortunately abbreviated my.BO.com, in which I must give my first and last name in addition to email and zip, I’m excited to see exactly one personalized item – a state-specific event finder – and some sort of small utility drop-down menu that’s hidden at the upper right. Otherwise, however, there’s nothing on most of the page that indicates that BarackObama.com actually knows that I’ve already signed up. My interactive options are the same (still presented way down on the page), and I’m still encouraged to sign up everywhere I look. Is that all there is: the chance to sign up?
Obama 1 / McCain 1.
Let us know what you’d like us to evaluate next – quality of email? Blog strategy? Navigation? Overall visual design? You name it, we’ll do our best to tackle it.
Now that we’re down to two (presumptive) presidential nominees, I have a modest proposal for you. It's time for us - all you bloggers out there; my esteemed colleagues; and you, dear reader - to take stock of what our candidates are doing online. How are they presenting themselves, how nimble are their websites in responding to what’s happening day-to-day, how effective are they as engaging us as supporters, donors, voters?
We've written about the candidates websites as hotbeds of innovation, and about Lessons Learned (so far) from the '08 Campaign. Now I'm proposing...a little thing I call the Hopefuls Online Scorecard.Call to Action! Let’s start a dialogue on how the candidates’ websites stack up on a bunch of criteria that matter to us.
I'll start by posting scores (forthcoming) on a few best practices in website usability and engaging constituents online - stuff like overall experience, navigation, pathways to action, and quality of content. I'll ask you to post comments on the success criteria that matter to you - let's keep the tally rising.
Posted by Misty McLaughlin at May 20, 2008 03:00 PM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, Social Media, Usability
I love 2008.
To put a finer point on it, I love this particular presidential election year in the U.S. For the first time, all of our serious commander-in-chief contenders understand that Campaign Central for the majority of American voters is their website.
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