Posts Tagged “information”

Seven Steps to Reclaiming Your Desktop

 
Cluttered Desk
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:

  1. Start by identifying the different themes or functions of your work.
  2. Each function needs its own folder.
  3. Within each folder are sub-folders and files.
  4. Everything that has to do with that function must be housed within the corresponding folder.
  5. Title all folders and files a name that describes what it contains.
  6. 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).
  7. Start dragging and dropping.

 
The digital filing system needs to mirror the paper filing system and email.

Five Steps to Organized Information

Cluttered Desk

Organizing your information will help avoid over-retention and clutter, save time, and prevent duplication.

 

When I am very busy, I tackle work by cleaning up my desk, and then making a list of what I must get done. Starting by organizing allows me to clear clutter; not just physically, but mentally as well. It becomes much easier to see work and priorities clearly. This is the basic principle behind information management. When information is organized, it can be presented in a way that facilitates learning, comprehension, and decision making. When information is saved haphazardly, either in hard or soft copy, it doesn’t get used. Disorganized documents cause work to be duplicated and time to be wasted.
 

Adopting an easy to use information management system will help avoid over-retention, clutter, and  prevent duplication and time spent searching for information.
 

Here are 5 steps to get started:

  1. Scraps of paper with notes are little bits of your organization’s knowledge. Do not lose them if they contain valuable information. Capture it in way that makes sense for you.
  2. 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 stack of paper. It will take so much time to get any information out of that stack. Delete or store the messages and documents accordingly.
  3. We all save documents, like interesting articles, to read at a later time. If you never read them, stop saving them. If you really want to start reading them, set aside time each week just for this purpose.
  4. Give documents a title that describes what they are and why you are saving them. Each name should not duplicate the sub-folder preceding it.
  5. Find out what your legal obligations are: Depending on how your organization is registered, there may be regulations regarding records management that you must adhere to. Find out what must (and what must not) be kept and whether there are any regulations regarding storage and retrieval.

Optimizing Search Engines with Information Management Principles

Newspaper plane

 

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!

Great Software Solution for Creating Graphics

Great software for creating graphics -pencil crayons

A great, useful image-creating solution for communicators

One of my favourite aspects of being a nonprofit professional is how uncomplicated some things can be to accomplish. If I have an idea, and the desire to see the idea to fruition, it can be done. It is not necessary for meetings, belabouring bureaucractic processes, and permission from numerous departments. For example, I don’t need a marketing expert to communicate with stakeholders. However, sometimes it would be great to have a marketing expert to communicate with stakeholders.
 
If you need to execute a task professionally, which is outside of your skill set, having the right software solution can be your best colleague.
 
So, for nonprofit professionals who need to communicate well, allow me introduce you to Canva, < https://www.canva.com/ >. It is a web-based software solution that allows users to create professional looking graphics, with ease. Canva can be used to create an image, alter an existing image, or give a bit of spice to otherwise plain text. My favourite feature of Canva is the pre-formatted sizes. It is not necessary for you to know the exact size of the graphic you want to make; you can simply select what it’s for -documents, digital marketing material, or social media headers and posts. And best of all, it’s free!

The Cost of Employee Transition

I read an article last week about someone, describing herself as “typical millennial,” has had seven jobs Information Managementin 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!

Be a Curator of Information

Newspaper plane

How do you stay informed?

 
If you are responsible for being an expert about a specific topic it is very important to stay informed on that topic. How do you do that? You can curate information using Google Alerts. By using this feature you will receive a message when content you have tagged as important is published online.
 
Catch all important updates using Google Alerts. Use your existing Google account or sign up for a new one, (you can learn about their policies here). Go to www.google.ca/alerts <https://www.google.ca/alerts>.
 
Create an alert using any relevant words including names of people. You can use Boolean operators as well. For example, if you want to receive an alert for the word “information”, “inform”, “informed”, or “informing” you can enter “inform*” the asterisk captures all words that start with those letters.
 
Settings wheel:

Set delivery time: This is a handy way to manage the emails. Rather than getting a message whenever content is published, you can have one message sent with a list of each piece of content. You can also set the time you want to receive the content.

Digest: Receive all alerts in a single email. (This will abbreviate the list, you may miss content)

Flag as irrelevant: If you need to search a word like “senior” you will receive alerts for a number of different uses for that word, for example both elderly people and people in their last year of US high school. Use the flag as irrelevant option to customize your alert.

An Accessible Website in 12 Steps

Accessible Websites mouse with accessibility icon

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:
 

  1. Provide sufficient contrast between the foreground and background.
    A white background with black text allows for the greatest contrast.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

What We Do

Services Connected. Circles connected with lines.

Services ConnectedServices in Action is an information centre for nonprofits, established to help you help your community and the people you serve.

 

Our (free) services include:

  • Information and Tool Sharing: We specialize in finding the unfindable and getting access to services that don’t seem to exist. By learning about other organizations in your area you can ensure your clients get the best possible care.
  • Specialized Projects: We understand what it takes to turn an idea into a list of action items. If you’d like to get a project started, but don’t have the time, resources, or know how to begin, Services in Action can help you customize a plan to get you where you want to be.

 
Getting involved is easy.
 
Connect with us We’re here to listen to your ideas and problems and offer solutions. Email, call, or connect with us on Skype and tell us about the challenges you face. Find us on facebook, twitter, instagram, and LinkedIn to learn about what’s trending in the nonprofit industry and what’s happening with your colleagues. We love sharing great information, ideas, and tips!
 
Shop at our Community Market. We sell some incredible items made by our partners to assist with their income generation. We also sell and give away educational tools and webinars.
 
Coming Soon! We’re building a Service Review section on our website which will allow you to find third party contractors and vendors by using keywords or by browsing through categories. AND, you’ll also be able to read reviews and ratings posted by their previous clients, your industry colleagues. So, before you spend what little money your budget has or take a proposal to the Board, you can check what your colleagues in the industry recommend!
 
Join our network of nonprofits and benefit from our industry insight. By building partnerships and working with other organizations you can help your clients receive all of the support they need. Click here to join now.


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