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For most organizations strategic planning is an annual event. It is an excellent way to review and reflect on the past year, to be reminded of your mission and vision, and to plan for the year ahead.
We spend at least one full day at the end of each year conducting a strategic planning exercise, I always find them so valuable.This year however, when I opened up 2017’s plan, I realized it was the first time the document had been opened all year. 2017 was a great year, but I didn’t attend to all of the priorities that had been set out.
The problem with strategic planning is you end up with a hefty document that gets stored away for a year. So this year, I decided to take matters into my own hands and I turned that 20 page document into a one-page info-graphic.
The info-graphic highlights key words, is in a shape that is meaningful to this year’s purpose, and is posted in a very prominent place. Last year I reviewed the strategic plan once at the end of the year. This year, I look at it constantly. It has made a significant difference to the focus of our work.
If you are interested in turning your strategic plan into an info-graphic that gets attention, here are some key steps to take:
- Identify the different sections of your plan.
- Highlight key words from each section.
- Consider actions you would attribute to those keywords.
- Place those keywords in a way that gives them context.
- Put pen (or marker, crayon, or pencil crayon) to paper.
- Once you have a one-page document, go back to the strategic plan to check that all of the priorities and goals have been captured in the one page diagram.
If you want some (free) feedback on what your strategic plan could look like as a diagram, just let us know. It may just help focus your work.
How we keep up with all of the information that gets sent our way?
Keeping up with everything you want to read is an insurmountable task. And so it should be, the more you read, the more you’re interested in.
How can you manage it all? When it comes to information being sent to you there are a few ways you can take control.
Put everything you are interested in reading into a folder titled “Stuff I Want To Read”. When you have time to read, you can go straight to that folder.
The purpose of this folder is to gather all similar documents in one spot so when it is time to attend to those documents, there already gathered, you do not need to waste time searching for them or getting distracted by other things.
Creating folders can be done with three media platforms, email, websites, and Facebook.
- Email: Make a folder along with all of the other folders.
- Websites: Each web browser has a bookmark area. Within the bookmark you can make and manage folders. For most web browsers this means just opening up the bookmark column, and right clicking. You can drag and drop webpages in and out as you find them and read them.
- Pocket: An additional feature to consider here is a ‘read-it-later’ service like Pocket. This service works with your web browser. Instead of hitting the Bookmark button, you hit the Pocket button. The webpage will be saved there, and will be available across all of your devices.
- Facebook: On the top right side of each post there is an option to save the post. This allows you to go back to the post at a more convenient time
Creating a distinct folder will prevent you from getting distracted by all of the other content, like emails, news feeds, or websites.
A few weeks back we wrote about de-cluttering your email’s inbox. Today we’ll tackle your desktop.
Your digital desktop is like your physical desktop. A screen filled with file icons is like a desk with massive piles of paper. The main issue with disorganization like this, is not being able to use the information that you’ve already created. If you are funded by grants, for example, there are times when you are called upon to provide data and collecting it takes time. Or, if you want to apply for a grant or an award, you will need to support your application. Curating your own information should not be a timely or overwhelming task.
Clutter, both digitally and physically, can cause an ambiguity effect. That is, when something seems ambiguous, we avoid it.
How do you know your information is cluttered? Because you:
- Can’t find stuff
- Can’t understand it even when you do find it
- Stuff is stored in scattered locations
- Poor memory of what you have and where it is
- Low level of compliance with policies or laws (highly relevant if you are incorporated or a registered charity)
- Can’t bring together the complete story of an issues, project, or event.
Here are seven steps to clear desktop clutter:
- Start by identifying the different themes or functions of your work.
- Each function needs its own folder.
- Within each folder are sub-folders and files.
- Everything that has to do with that function must be housed within the corresponding folder.
- Title all folders and files a name that describes what it contains.
- Each folder must be mutually exclusive –that means only contain information about one thing, it must be exclusive from the other folders. And each folder must be collectively exhausted –that means everything must have a place. (It is so much easier to put things away when you know where they go).
- Start dragging and dropping.
The digital filing system needs to mirror the paper filing system and email.
Content audits are a way of excel-ifying your website. With the help of a worksheet, all webpages, titles, descriptions, links to other pages, tags, and images are catalogued and recorded.
The purpose of a content audit is to track of the metadata of your website. So if you, for example, take down a page, you can easily find what other pages link to that one. Content audits allow you to ensure the information on the website is relevant and up-to-date, and any stale content is easily identified and and removed.
Marketing managers, communicators, and SEO experts all have their own reasons for conducting a content audit. For the nonprofit information manager, a content audit allows for analysis and management of the content of your website, which is the digital version of your organization.
Here are six reasons why content audits are an excellent idea:
- You won’t lose track of what is published online. As your organization develops over time, priorities and focus shift. Content audits ensure your website stays accurate and reflective of the organization.It ensures a solid mental model.
- A mental model is a spatial map, it’s your vision of the flow of the website or the path a visitor will take to go through the website. Auditing the content of your website ensures the user’s experience is what you want it to be.
- Know what is there. Organizations get called upon to show what they know and do regularly –for grants, awards, audits, stakeholders, etc. Rather than rewriting and recreating each time, a content audit allows you to quickly and easily find what has already been done.
- At a glance you will be able to conduct an evaluation of your website. That means that regularly, say monthly, you will be able to see what is on your website and evaluate its purpose and relevance.
- People normally visit websites to find information. Negative feedback of your website will most likely be about this. A content audit allows for an analysis and constant improvement of the information flow.
- Improved Search Engine Optimization. All SEO efforts require an analysis of the content of your website.
If you want to get started, here is a great template published by 4Syllables, <http://4syllables.com.au/resources/content-audit-template/>
Is your inbox a dumping ground for any inbound communication? Here are 4 steps to take control right now.
Your inbox and desktop are the digital versions of your physical desk. An inbox with hundreds (or dare I say, thousands) of emails is like a desk with a massive pile of paper. You may know what is in that pile, you may be able to find something if need be, but it would take a lot of time. You also don’t know exactly what is in there, so if the pile was destroyed, you would not know what you do not know. Managing your email is an essential part of managing your information. Here are four steps to a clutter-free inbox:
- Your inbox should be seen as a to-do list. If a message is in the inbox that means it has yet to be dealt with. Once an email has been dealt with, it needs to be filed, to be saved, or deleted. Email software allows you to manage this easily. Make folders, with sub-folders, and move the messages. (Tip: mirror your email folders to your documents folders.)
- To avoid a plethora of emails you need to be ruthless with what you accept. If you receive a newsletter that you do not want or read, unsubscribe. If a message is junkmail, don’t just delete it; put it in the junkmail box. Your email software will learn what is junk and will do it automatically. Receive messages from your favourite retail store for big discount day announcements? If you feel unsubscribing is too final, mark it as junk. You’ll still receive the messages, but they won’t crowd your inbox.
- If you receive newsletters or links to articles that you actually do want to read, but not right now, create a folder called ‘Stuff I Want To Read’ and move the emails there. Then, when you have time, you can go straight to that folder without getting distracted by other messages in your inbox (a.k.a. to-do list).
- If you have a lot of messages, create one folder called ‘Before Today’ and move all the messages there. Top to bottom. You can deal with them, or not. Either way your inbox is clear to get started.
Start with step four, then steps one and three. Step two will be ongoing.
A great way to get the training you need, as you complete work projects.
There are so many resources to help nonprofit professionals learn a new skill.
The Center for Sustainable Development is one such organization. What’s unique about their approach is they teach learners using their own work projects. For example, if you need to learn how to build an AdWords campaign for your organization, the online course at CSDi will teach and guide you step-by-step to build your organization’s AdWord campaign. So in the end, you will have a certificate for the online course and have completed your project.
CSDi offers many great online courses. Visit their website for the full list, <http://nonprofit.csd-i.org/>.
Is SEO just information management? Well, maybe not quite, but it sure helps!
For the past few months I have been working on a lengthy search engine optimization (SEO) project and as an information guru, it has been truly fascinating!
The job of a search engine is to respond to a user’s query with a list of best and most appropriate websites. Search engines evaluate websites based on certain criteria such as content, URLs, headings, site speed, responsiveness, and history. For a website to be viewed favourably by a search engine, its data needs to be kept clean, tidy, and well organized. Each page, post, or image must be categorized and labelled properly. Anything stale, outdated, or unused must be removed. An SEO checklist for website is enormous, but it reflects the best practices for managing information.
Here are a few tips to both manage your websites information and optimize search engines:
- Each web-page should be relevant, useful, and fresh, and have appropriate titles and tags.
- Irrelevant, out of date, or incorrect information should be deleted.
- All links must work. All external links should be checked periodically to ensure they are still appropriate.
- All images should provide informative metadata.
- Use categories and tags correctly.
- Know your organization’s keywords and ensure your website supports them.
SEO, like information management, is an ongoing process, they both require regular maintenance, and nothing should be categorized as ‘miscellaneous’.
If you are interested in learning more about SEO or managing information, contact me and I will send you some great resources!
I read an article last week about someone, describing herself as “typical millennial,” has had seven jobs in seven years. If this much transition is typical, imagine how much time and information gets lost between employees? With each new employee, organizations spend time, (and therefore money) getting them up to speed; and as each former employee leaves, with them goes organizational information that is captured nowhere else but in their head. For many small organizations this is a huge hurdle, and to go through it constantly can be a significant expenditure. By managing your organization’s information you can mitigate the loss of time, money, and information.
Here’s a great article to help you get started: Six Steps To Managing Your Organization’s Information
Just imagine, a work system that allows all of its users to find and access what they need easily and quickly, no matter how long they have been employed with you!
Information is being put online at a dramatic pace. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world has been added in just the past two year alone! People who could not previously access information now can. And because of this, each person’s ability to learn, communicate, and share information has been drastically changed. Barriers no longer exist where they previously did. In 2011, the United Nations declared the internet a human right. It is a human right because it enables other human rights. The internet allows people to access information about work, education, healthcare, housing, and other social services and necessities. It facilitates abilities.
A disability is any experience that puts a barrier between what a person wants to do and what a person can do. It is possible to be disabled in one situation and not another. The online world presents opportunities to tear down barriers. As creators of online content we are responsible to ensure web-based barriers are mitigated.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that works as a leader for web discourse. The W3C is committed to ensuring and advancing web accessibility. To do so, the W3C established the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines are divided into three areas, designing, writing, and developing. By following their guidelines your website participates in an online community committed to benefiting everyone regardless of their physical, mental, or social ability.
If you think people with disabilities don’t visit your website reconsider what you think a disability is, who it affects, and what kind of benefits we’d all gain if everyone could fully participate in our online community. Web accessibility is not just about seeing content and moving a mouse. It also involves understanding and interacting with content, knowing and responding to web based jargon, searching and browsing, and moving through the architecture of websites.
Here’s a list of 12 items for designing an accessible website:
- Provide sufficient contrast between the foreground and background.
A white background with black text allows for the greatest contrast.
- Don’t use color alone to convey information.
Don’t use just colour to indicate a required field for a form. For example, use another indicator such as an asterisk as well. Underline hyperlinks and use a different colour for the text.
- Ensure that interactive elements are easy to identify and manipulate.
Buttons should be easy to click on with a mouse, they shouldn’t be too small.
Make hyperlinked text descriptive of what it link does. Do not link the word “click here” or “read more,” instead include the hyperlink on an article’s title.
- Provide clear and consistent navigation options.
Have you ever noticed how stores have distinct sections and aisles? This allows shoppers to find what they need (and sometimes stumble upon things they don’t). Websites should provide the same experience. One handy feature is breadcrumbs on each page, this allows the user to know where they are in the website –for example: the household goods store > bedding > pillow cases. This provides for easy navigation through the website and helps users find information.
- Ensure that form elements include clearly associated labels.
Form elements may include a login or contact us forms. Be clear about what you are asking the user to do and provide feedback in more than one way. For example, use an asterisk.
This is a good place to consider Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart or CAPTCHAs. This is the little quiz at the end of a form to tell if you are a robot. They can be very difficult for some people to respond to. (I have difficulty deciphering them every time!) If it really is necessary for your website to have one, there are a few options that facilitate accessibility more than reading an encrypted word. Some options include images rather than words or a tick box for “I am not a robot.” But in the same way CAPTCHAs block spam, they also block accessibility. Before installing a CAPTCHA feature consider if it is really necessary or the concern of your website’s visitors to reduce the amount of spam you receive.
- Provide easily identifiable feedback and instruction.
When visitors interact with your website they should be able to know what they need to do and get good feedback, especially when they’ve made an error. If an error is made when filling out a form, for example, clearly indicate where the error was made. If users need to provide information such as a telephone number or create a password, provide an example of how the number should be entered or the character requirements for a password.
- Use headings and spacing to group related content and convey meaning.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with web pages that are full of clutter. It is hard to read text and retrieve information from websites that aren’t clean and clear. So, use white space and proximity to separate different content and use style headings to group content. Reduce clutter on the page and make images relevant to the topic. This will make the webpage easier to scan and understand. Also, make the content easy to read.
- Provide informative, unique pages titles.
Page titles provide an introduction to the content below. It allows users to scan and anticipate the information. Each section of your website should be distinct from other sections.
- Create designs for different viewport sizes.
Websites need to be responsive. Always check how your website appears on different web browsers, devices, and in print.
- Provide alternative text for images.
All of the tips included here not only make your website more accessible, they also make it better. This is especially true for alternative text. Alternative text is the metadata included in each picture. When a picture is uploaded there is an opportunity to enter a few specific points of data –the title, description, and caption. Input the metadata in each image. This allows screen readers to read what the picture is. It also allows Google’s search feature to read what the picture is, which is a very good way to boost a website’s search optimization. So that being said, ensure the information you enter is accurate and descriptive.
- Provide controls for content that starts automatically.
This includes slider images that present content on a rotation. Really, evaluate anything that moves on a webpage and decide if the movement is necessary. Content that moves can be distracting.
- Provide alternative ways to receive information.
Include captions on videos, transcripts for audio content, and ensure pages can be easily printed or converted to pdf.
This list in not exhaustive. Excluded from this list are more specific guidelines for developing a website. To read the complete list of tips check out the WCAG requirements Tips for Getting Started with Web Accessibility [https://www.w3.org/WAI/gettingstarted/tips/
IBM What is big data. Retrieved: June 2016. https://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/what-is-big-data.html.