Talance Launches JFS MetroWest!

JFS MetroWest

We’re glad to announce the launch of Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey. It’s a social service agency that needed help reaching families in need and more donors via the web.

Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey offers a wide range of mental health and social services to people of all ages. But the agency was having a hard time delivering its message online. They were worried about their low presence in search engine rankings, the site’s confusing navigation, a lack of new donors and a low number of new client intakes. What’s more, the in-house staff couldn’t edit – or even see – the old website.

We (Talance, Inc.), a Boston-area Web development and design firm that specializes in user-friendly websites for non-profits, created for them an easy-to-use website with high visibility and the ability to accept online payments.

The Drupal-based website—which includes optimized search engine capabilities, an online shopping cart for accepting donations and selling tribute cards, a calendar of events, a news updates section, a newsletter and more – is now manageable by a staff without any in-depth technical expertise. The site also effectively informs its constituency about upcoming events and community resources. The new platform has helped JFS MetroWest achieve its goal of having a lively website that’s easy to maintain, increase donations and publicize a rich selection of programs and services.

Project Breakdown

  • Better design: the old black and white design was replaced by a vibrant site with color photos that represent the services offered by the agency.
  • Expandable text-based menus: Given the extensive menu of services available to the community, Talance created a menu that allowed for many options that don’t look overwhelming.
  • Shopping cart: The new shopping cart allows donors to purchase tribute cards, make donations and buy tickets for events.
  • Calendar: The new and improved calendar brings the numerous events and programs onto the homepage while highlighting what’s available on the current day.
  • JFS in the News: A list on the homepage allows the agency to highlight its most recent media coverage.
  • Newsletter: A customizable newsletter can go out to the constituency while being archived on the website.
  • Friendly URLs: As part of an overall search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, each page has a unique address that’s easy for visitors to read and that is easily catalogued in search engines.

Check out the whole case study to learn more.

Social Media Conference List

The world of social media moves so fast that it’s easy to be confused by what’s new. A good way to keep track of innovations and what’s working is by hitting a local conference.

This list from the Socialmedia.biz blog is a handy resource for yearly conference planning.

Presidential Website Launch

Change.gov splash screen

Normally, I find “This site has moved” messages annoying. There are better ways to divert people from an old site to a new one. But I was glad to see a message on President Barak Obama’s Change.gov website. Now you can follow him on WhiteHouse.gov. Welcome back, White House website!

My favorite feature is the blog, where you can keep tabs on policy updates and calls-to-action, like the national day of service. A great site for non-profits to watch to keep up on policy changes that affect them, but also as a solid example to emulate.

Scholarships to NTEN Conference

I really like NTEN (check out this article I wrote for them), so I was glad to see they’re giving scholarships to the conference in San Francisco from April 26-28. They’re also collecting unused frequent flyer miles so you might score a free airline ticket as well.

Apply at: http://nten.org/ntc-scholarships

The Power (Literally) Behind Google Search

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[Image: Flickr user Ryner12]

If you’re anything like me, you hit the Google search anywhere between 100 and 1 million times a day. And, if you’re like me, you don’t give a second thought to how much energy you use up. This article in The London Times quotes physicist Alex Wissner-Gross, who says that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea.

His estimations are in part from a recent report by industry analysts Gartner Group, who said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines – about 2% of global CO2 emissions.


Make-or-Break Tips for Managing a Tech Project

Small businesses and nonprofits are in the unusual position of being executive staff, mail room clerk and chief technologist all at the same time. Everyone can lick an envelope, but not everyone feels comfortable taking the role of CTO with no tech background. Yet that’s just what happens when you embark on a website project. Here are a few things you can do make sure the development of your website goes smoothly.

  1. Decide what you need. This is a good time to start polling the people you work with, because people at your organization may have different ideas about how the site should work than you do. Start with a needs assessment, and put all the feedback and ideas into a big list.
  2. Prioritize. The needs assessment will help you compile a wish list of what you want on your website, but now prioritize. If you don’t define scope, your project could go on forever and cost more than you have. Divide your list into three sections: Must Have, Will Need, Nice to Have. Be prepared to take out a clean sheet of paper for any additional items you think of during the project. We advise our clients to set aside an additional 15% of the budget for these unforeseen issues. Anything else you can get to these items during round two. Six months from launch is a good time to think of scheduling this round two.
  3. Appoint a traffic cop. During your project development, you need someone to be the central command between your organization and the development team. This traffic cop doesn’t need to know about technology, but they should be organized, good at delivering information and have the ability to call the shots when needed.
  4. Create a feedback forum for employees. It’s nice to have a web form or survey somewhere where people can drop comments and ideas during development and beyond. Websites should always be in motion, so use feedback as way to make sure your site does what you want it to as your organization evolves.