To Do’s For A Successful Nonprofit Website

As our work with nonprofit organizations increases, we are frequently sharing information on the same key elements. In this article we will review four of these leading principles; responsive design, user-friendly navigation, colors, and high quality photography.

Part 1 Design Essentials

Responsive Design

Responsive design refers to your site’s ability adjust to fit any screen size, whether the site is being viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone. Responsive design is one of the highest priorities for any website today. The importance of mobile search means that your site must be available in an easily accessible, size appropriate form on mobile devices, and tablets.

If the site isn’t responsive, mobile users will have a hard time viewing and navigating, which can result in Google lowering your ranking in search engines.

Google’s recent updates (search algorithm) indicate ?mobile friendly? prioritization

Intuitive, User-Friendly Navigation

Well-thought-out navigation is crucial. It is imperative that visitors can find what they are seeking. Some of the more common to do’s in navigation is to use familiar, logical names and avoiding long drop down menus. (No more than 7 items).

One reason the role of thought out and simple navigation is so fundamental is to allow for easy monetization on your site. When clients visit your site their primary goal is to take action, so the menu items that monetize your site, such as shows, tickets, and donate should come first.

Call-to-Action Buttons

Call-to-action buttons are an important component of your website’s navigation. The purpose of a call-to-action button is to encourage visitors to click to do something (donate, become a member, buy a ticket, make an appointment, subscribe to your blog).

Call-to-action button best practices:

  • Use action-oriented language, such as Donate, Register, Buy Ticket, Download,
  • Sign Up
  • Keep text short – 2 to 3 words max.
  • Choose a contrasting but complimentary color for your button. It should stand out, but not deter from the web design.
  • The most important call to action buttons re-emphasize the monetization path, and are placed visibly above the menu or above the fold in the side bar. If you have more than one call-to-action, create a hierarchy.

Colors

Please remember that you are building the site for your customers based on your branding, and not simply for your enjoyment 🙂

Make sure you select the colors for your site based on sound design and branding principles.

Color best practices:

  • Select one or two colors from your brand that are appealing
  • With the help of your designer, select the appropriate color scheme for your site.

High-quality photography

We are all susceptible to visual communication, and the right imagery can have a powerful impact on our behavior. By using high quality photography on your website, you can grab people’s interest and connect your cause/vision/mission with theirs. If you have a show make sure your ?Hero image? (top image above the fold) communicates the eminence of the show

Photography best practices:

  • Use real photos as much as possible (minimize or eliminate the use of stock photography models)
  • If you don’t have the budget for custom photography and you must use stock photography, stick to images of landscapes, city skylines and objects.
  • Experiment with filters and overlays to create different looks and moods.
  • Avoid pixelated or blurry images at all cost.
  • Always obey the licensing/copyright rules!

Deep Linking for Ticket Sales

According to Techopedia, Deep linking is the process of pointing a visitor to a specific page in a website through the use of that page?s link instead of that homepage.? We all know that it is imperative to make sure your patrons get to the point of ticketing for their specific date and time on the first try. It allows visitors to get the information that they are seeking quickly rather than a list of options that might be distracting.

Deep linking minimizes the click to purchase to increase online sales, helps raise more funds and simplifies the subscription process. For example, if a visitor wants to buy a ticket for a particular show and they search for the title of the show in your area online, they will find a direct link to buy tickets for that specific show instead of clicking on a link to your main page and having to do multiple clicks to find the checkout page. (I?ve heard estimates that you lose 18% of your traffic per click ? that certainly matches our experience)

So, some informal ticketing deep link rules are:

Always link them to a specific event purchase page
When sending email blasts or social media, make sure you link them to a specific appropriate page on your web site (not ticketing site) and then send them to the ticketing deep link.
Include direct links in your email signature regarding any shows you are currently promoting (rather than a link to your main homepage).

As LaMae always says – We are happy that folks get to the web site — they can land on any page they like or find. Then, it’s our job to quickly get them to where they need to be.

 

Website Design in 2016

Web design moves quickly, especially with Google pushing it along, and customers looking to ROI parameters from their designers. In the past year, we had emphasis on responsiveness, code security, and optimization, and flat design. In the coming year we may well see these trends take hold:

1) There will be much more attention to information design than ever before. Your User Interface, how it is coded, it’s accessibility and logical flow will become of paramount importance.

2) Losing hard earned eyeballs to unnecessary scroll or click is no fun. Optimizing scrolls and clicks will become as necessary as the images being used on?the site. The ROI for design is on top of everyone’s mind now a days, as a result we expect to see even more emphasis on coherent UX, optimized click throughs, and scrolls.

3) About a decade ago, many of us began the quest for creating a modular yet object oriented environment for design based on a grid system. With the success of Wix, commander and the like, it seems this may be the year that everyone will accept modular design in a grid system as the bedrock responsive design.

4) Flat design is all the rage now, and we don’t see that changing for a while.

5) We have forever recommended the use of better quality imagery and iconography and following the expansion of personalized photography in the past year, the trend toward quality should continue.

6) The influence of app design on web design will be even more pronounced, with form factors (e.g. full screen forms), and movement (horizontal scrolling – ONLY) that more closely resembles the app users’ experience.

7) The new applications such as JustinMind or Axure for Rapid prototyping, and Sketch for design and their online cousins such as inVision have become very popular, and we see even a bigger trend towards the use of these new tools for rapid prototyping and design of sites in 2016.

Overall everything will get faster, flatter, more streamlined, and more secure.

Don’t think you need a new Performing Arts website? … Think Again

Important meeting with V.I.M.

Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, right? I got to spend 4 days and nights at Disneyland. I had multiple touch points with the brand while?there for a work conference. I spent most of my time in the Disneyland Convention Center. Here the Disney touch was in evidence all around. The convention space was convenient, well designed, easy to navigate and I even got to take a photo with Mickey and Minnie during one of the breaks. It was a great experience all around.

My second touch point was the hotel. I stayed at the Grand Californian, the overflow hotel. The room was nice, quiet but a little worn in ways that I had not seen before at a Disney property. But, there was also turndown service that put mints on my bed so I am still calling it good.

Once the conference was over, I met my wife and went to Disneyland – the happiest place on earth…and everyone on earth was there. We went to a few of our favorite rides but left before we had spent 5 hours there. According to staff it was not close to a maximum capacity day. It was just an uncomfortable experience at a theme park.

If ever there was a need for dynamic pricing for a better patron experience, this was it. I would have paid nearly double to be able to have only half as many people in the park that day.

Even a great entertainment brand has trouble maintaining service levels as the traffic increases.

Which brings me to your website?

We tell clients that after 2 years your site probably needs a refreshed look, feel and functionality. And yes, we sell web services. But, there are a whole host of reasons your website may need an upgrade: Mobile responsiveness is a need not a want. SEO is necessary if you want to be found in this Google-dominated digitalscape we live in. And making sure you are as few clicks away as possible from conversion is just best practice. So, when you think to yourself that my five-year old website is bulletproof ?because it is still functional; check your traffic, conversions and purchase path and then rethink because chances are your status quo can be catapulted.

If you have that hot ticket that everyone wants, you may find that your bulletproof website can?t direct the traffic or optimize conversions.

Re-think your site from you visitor? perspective and it will be a happy place.

-John Olchak

The VR Glass is half full

It turns out when you start dealing with AR and VR and all the requests for one or the other, you are quickly pulled down a rabbit hole that would leave Alice bewildered.

As you may know, we have done a lot of web apps involving Google Earth and when Google decided to walk away from Google Earth, we were first concerned and then moved most of our clients over to Google Maps and finally with the partnership?of a crafty client, we developed a replacement.

(I am getting to the VR part) The new environment is easier to manage than Google Earth and since our client loves to work in/on the paradigm of scripting languages, we have been making break neck progress.

In this new environment, we provide the X, Y, Z, R, Y, P, Xn, Yn, Zn and we get to define the position, zoom, roll, yaw and pitch and we can place anything in to the environment.? None of this is newsworthy of course. But (here comes my favorite part), it turns out that in our attempt to make the admin of our ARTdynamix CMS easy to use and yet versatile as all get out, we have created a really nice WCM for the VR folks.

We had already been using ARTdynamix? for augmented reality to talk to various beacons and to provide specific content based on positioning or geo-fencing. We have also been overlaying video, audio, and images on top of triggers of all kind.? (All of this occurs through use of web services and handshakes with various applications )

Here is the newsworthy part:? Imagine any 3D environment that has basic content translation built-in (in this case our client’s amazing work) then you can utilize the admin interface of ARTdynamix? to enter the time, location, stage size, avatarID (audio, video, construct – still or animated, text …), orientation and zoom.? You can import the sequence from an excel spreadsheet and be on your way to demonstrating a civil war battle on your App/Site with correct date and event sequence and have the content pop up on the side of the screen to support the visual of the story.? The possibilities are difficult to enumerate – but just imagine.

If you want this tomorrow, it is not quite done yet but next week probably. I am happy to say that our good friend and client Ken J. is at the leading edge of VR content development and we are blazing new trails on this bumpy road to VR Nirvana. (But much of this is ready to roll now and already in use.)

P.S.? Between the time I wrote this and tried to post it, I had a very exciting conversation with an amazing engineer that is developing compression algorithms for 3D environments that are really phenomenal so the gap time — and thus the associated sense of nausea — would nearly disappear.? (so maybe VR will mature before 2023 — but that is a conversation for another time, location, stage size and construct. 🙂

Augment those angry birds

Yeah, yeah … it is not that the new Angry Bird’s movie comes from a game that is compelling about the story. All of that is well known fact.

What is interesting about the Angry Bird movie release is the fact that the marketing of the movie involves augmented reality.

In order to build a buzz around the opening of the movie, Rovio ? the makers of the game ? created a big AR promotional campaign to grab the hearts of the players, and attract new audiences to both the game and the movie.

The campaign introduced the brand new game ? Angry Birds Action! ? in which the famous little birds are main characters of a puzzle set in a top-down 3D world. Next, they introduced a series of QR codes that were added to the movie?s official merchandising, cross promotional campaigns and credits. In order to activate additional features, you will need to scan the code.

The codes have been cross promoted by brands ranging from McDonald?s to Lego.? Once the code has been scanned, then you get to enjoy exclusive content, and activate new features in the game.

Every cross promotion has its own special branded mini-game and to play all the games, it will be necessary to scan the code for every cross promotion which incentivizes the fans to visit the promoter?s location and make a purchase in order to get their hands on new games.

This is a quite sophisticated promotional technique, which for the first time is taking advantage on the wider reaches of AR.? The campaign was made possible by Zapper for Rovio.? A job well done!?If you want to add Augmented Reality to your project, just give us a call. (We already have some great applications in the works that I’ll be telling you more about soon.)

Happy Bird Out.

Yelp as a Weapon

Businesses run in fear….or don’t worry about it.
Consumers don’t worry about it or aim it like a sword.

What is the magic of the review post and what is reasonable? Of course this answer is highly dependent on the individual or organization.

I think the advent of review sites from Yelp, Angie’s List, Open Table and the like, have been a great tool for shoppers. I certainly utilize them regularly and Dream Warrior customers have found us through the same process.

As raters though, I wonder if we should (as I admit to this) Yelp when Angry — or Yelp under the influence for that matter (YUI?). Feedback is important although as I read the reviews of others, I tend to focus more on the patterns and more detailed reviews as opposed to those that may be a one-off or emotion based.

Businesses are often the recipients of a revenge reviews or weaponized comments. Why do customers do this? Your customers will have to make that decision for themselves but for a business, there is a lesson to learn. Even if the comments may be what you deem an ‘unfair’ review, something brought the consumer to that level of frustration to take the time to make a review and let their opinion be heard. Those are the anomalies to remove from your process – fair or not.

How should you reply to reviews? I tend to concur with Yelp’s advice … rarely publicly; a ‘thank-you’ to great reviews and a ‘can I make it better next time’ response to reviews that call for improvement.

As to how Yelp filters their reviews, the jury may still be out. While Yelp advises us on their goal, it doesn’t always seem like that to me. But this can be resolved from your end.

Minimize the potential for negative reviews in your business practices/rules.