4 Winning Elements of a Navigable Site

Newspaper articles need to explain who, what, when, where, why, how. Anything less than those elements doesn’t tell the whole story. Websites also need to tell a story. Someone visiting for the first time should be able to know what you’re about and what you do without thinking too hard. Thinking too hard, in Web terms, means clicking off your page.

Here are the questions you should be able to answer easily if your website is well built:

1. What is the site all about? What’s its identity and reason for being?

2. Where do site visitors begin?

3. What’s the site structure? Does it have a clear hierarchy?

4. How do visitors search for things?

Pose those questions to your site, and if you can answer quickly and concretely, you know it has good bones.

Portrait of a Website Superstar: The Blog

I’m in the middle of researching a massive project now where most people I’ve interviewed say something to this effect: “Rather than go through the hassle of updating the website, we’ve just let it go.”

What a waste! To have a website that people are actually visiting (even if there aren’t many), and that can be actually working for you is a waste of time, space and even reputation. Sure, websites take dedication and work to update, but it shouldn’t be so hard to work with that you simply let it go.

Solution: the blog.

Blogs are workhorses. Your website can be fairly static, but if you have a blog, it instantly becomes dynamic. They constantly pump new information into your site, and provide a way for you to disseminate important information to your audience. If they’re using RSS feeds, they don’t even need to remember to go to your site. Turn on comments, and you can have a discussion with the people who visit.

What to write about?

  • Project updates
  • New grants
  • The people around your office
  • Useful information for your clients
  • Trends in your field

Anything that shows your funders, investors or prospects that you know what you’re doing.

If you make one addition to your website, make it a blog. And the pledge to work on it at least once a week. It’ll do wonders for making your site relevant.

10 Things Your Calendar Can Do You Probably Never Considered

Stuff goes on at your organization, and you need to tell people about it. That’s frequently the level of consideration people give their website calendar. That’s selling yourself short. Calendar tools, especially those that work on content management systems like Drupal, are full of features that can help you engage more people at your site and your events.

1. Automatically publish and expire events.

Sometimes you want to add events that don’t show up until they’re relevant. Maybe there’s a special launch you don’t want anyone to know about until a particular date, but you don’t want to have to remember to add it later. By scheduling your event to appear on a certain date, you don’t have to. You can also similarly set events to expire.

2. Subscribe to new events via RSS feeds.

If you have an RSS-using audience, they can subscribe to your calendar’s automatic RSS feed to find out what’s happening as soon as you add it.

3. Feature special events on your homepage.

Some events are really special, and you want them to show up on a particular page of your website, such as the homepage. You can have a Featured check box that lets you highlight events without having to redundantly enter them in two places.

4. Export events in iCalendar format.

ICalendar format allows you to share event information and display events in different programs, such as Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar. You can have a tool that lets people automatically convert your website’s events in iCal format so they can easily add it to their personal calendars.

5. Add a date-picker to the homepage.

Rather than a plain link that says Calendar, add a little date-picker that lets people choose a date in the month and see what’s happening then.

6. Highlight what’s happening this hour, this day or this week.

Websites can look much more active if you can see what’s going on in the immediate future. Your website can automatically create lists to show what’s happening in set timeframes.

7. Set regular events to recur.

If you have a training session that happens every Tuesday of every month, you can add it once and have it appear on every Tuesday thereafter.

8. Create event categories.

Some of your events may appeal only to staff members, some may relate to holidays. You can create categories on each of your events to create classifications that show events that match only those categories.

9. RSVP.

If you have an event coming up that you need people to RSVP to, you can do it directly from your calendar.

10. Sign-up.

Similarly, you might need people to register for an event. Why not include the sign-up form directly in the event itself?

Spring Is Coming – Unclutter Your Website

The buds are swelling, the dust bunnies have grown – that means it’s time for spring cleaning again. Spring cleaning should transcend your house and yard, however. It should also apply to your website. Here are four helpful articles from a special series we put together on spring cleaning your website:

Spring Clean Your Website – Part 1

Spring Clean Your Website – Dead Links (Part 2)

Spring Clean Your Website Copy (Part 3)

Spring Clean Your Website: Refresh the Design (Part 4)

Task-a-Day Promotion Checklist for Your Website

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”729″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”500″,”height”:”375″,”alt”:”Happy Birthday Candles on Angel Foods Cake”}}]]
[Photo credit: Happy Birthday Candles on Angel Foods Cake by Rob J Brooks, on Flickr]

Do enough people know about your website? It can and should be your most powerful marketing tool, delivering a steady stream of new visitors and pushing your message to a wider audience.

Increase your cyber-reach without over-burdening yourself by performing one small task a day throughout March with our Task-a-Day Website Promotion Checklist.

This freebie is part of our year-long birthday celebration. We’re celebrating our 10th year by giving out presents to YOU. This one is coming at you from now until March 31. Hurry, though, because after the 31st, it will be gone. Make sure to check in for our April birthday surprise.

March 2010 Newsletter: The Saving Money Issue

[This little gem is the e-mail newsletter our subscribers just received. Want a slice of this for yourself? Sign up now.]

Things Just Got Cheaper

We really don’t have to make our Websites 1-2-3 any cheaper, but we are anyway! Now you can have a fully functional, super-powered website with your colors and pictures for just $1599. Check it out.

Need more? Supersize it for $1999 and get sign-up forms and e-newsletters.

Want to go all out? Pick from our library of add-ons, including calendars, blogs – the sky’s the limit.

Of course, we do fully custom websites, too – just let us know if you have something specific in mind and we’ll bring it to life.

Signed,
Your Internet Pals at Talance

Top Blogs from JESNA

JESNA

This is a guest post from one of our favorite clients: Jenny Aisenberg, Knowledge Development Manager at JESNA and JESNA PDC, an organization that provides Jewish educational coordinating, planning and development. We asked Jenny what blogs she turns to regularly for help running her job at a Jewish education non-profit.

In my role as Knowledge Development Manager at JESNA, one of my key responsibilities is to keep my finger on the pulse of the Jewish world in social media. If there’s a resource on the web for Jewish educational and lay leaders, I wanna know about it—and share it with you! Every week, I update our Sosland Online Resource Center with the newest in blogs, tools, websites and more for the benefit of Jewish communities near and far. These top five picks are just the tip of the iceberg! I hope you’ll enjoy exploring them, and email me your ideas for other resources we should know about at jaisenberg@jesna.org.

1. Innovation in Jewish Education Blog

This is the blog of the Office of High School Programs at Brandeis University, drawing on BIMA and Genesis, their two summer programs for high school students, as living laboratories. I love seeing the thoughts and reflections of a whole panoply of educators who work with teens here, on topics ranging from “Self-perception and Participant Investment in the Intentional Community” to “Jewish Education and Family Priorities.” Plus, who wouldn’t love these tags?

2. The Alban Roundtable

A self-proclaimed “virtual meeting place for congregational leaders,” the Alban Roundtable blog is the social media hub of The Alban Institute, founded in 1974 as a major resource for American congregations facing the challenges of a changing society. As a leader in my own congregation in Park Slope, Brooklyn (I’m the chair of the 20’s/30’s social group and a former Hebrew School teacher) I have a deep appreciation for this kind of resource, where I can learn from others who face similar challenges, yet aren’t part of my daily grind.

3. Jew Point 0: The Darim Online Blog

Darim Online is the home of “Internet Strategies for Jewish Organizations and their Communities,” and their blog, run by our good friend Caren Levine, first launched in August 2008 as a place for Darim staff to share useful nuggets that arise from both their work and personal lives. This is a particularly succulent knowledge-sharing resource for anyone looking for guidance in the use of technology and social media in Jewish settings.

4. Jewcy

Most progressive young Jews under 30 know about this emergent online media outlet/blog/social network/brand by now, but it’s too, well, juicy to leave off my list! First launched in 2006, Jewcy is a forum for discussion of politics, culture, sex, religion and lifestyle in the Jewish world today. It has been called “the social media hub of the Jewish hipster movement” by The New York Times. Gee, and I thought I had a lock on that title…

5. Storahtelling Blog

This one is near and dear to my heart, and a wonderful resource for Jewish educators and community leaders interested in bringing new vibrancy to Jewish ritual and synagogue life. Storahtelling fuses storytelling, Torah, contemporary performance art and traditional ritual, both here in Manhattan and at synagogues around the globe. On their blog, you’ll find everything from the weekly drash, Storah-style, to tales from the road as they visit and perform at synagogues near and far. If you’re up for a trip to Boston, check out their summer educators’ training, StorahLAB.