Two Web Strategy Screencasts

I created two screencasts (video of a browser session with voice over) showing websites that demonstrate several of the web strategies that I cover in my book, Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results. The videos accompany an article I wrote for the December issue of Associations Now, What Drives Your Web Strategy?. You can view the videos below or go to read the article and see them there as well.

Revenue Examples

Market Needs and Marketing Examples

Many thanks to the folks at the following organizations: Air Conditioning Contractors of America; American Institute of Physics; Maryland Chamber of Commerce; and HopeWell Cancer Support.

Finally, thank to Lisa Junker for inviting me to be their first author to contribute both text and online video for Associations Now.

Fiber to Cuba Illuminates Future Opportunity

I wrote an article for Association’s Now earlier this year on the web strategy implications of a more open Cuba. One of the key factors I noted was that Cuba has no fiber optic lines, to the rest of the world, which drastically limits the available bandwidth in the island country. Looks like that may change in a couple years: Miami Firm Plans First U.S.-Cuba Fiber Optic Cable.

If an open Cuba is an opportunity for your organization, then you have a window in which to prepare for making greater connections online with Cuban citizens.

Beat by a Four Year Old

This would have been quite embarrassing when I was a kid, since I played a bunch of video games then, but I couldn’t be prouder now. I was quoted by Hitched magazine in an article about the Wii game platform: Top Family-Friendly Wii Games.

It’s one of the best family-friendly games because it’s easy for everyone to play. “Wii Sports has been great for my 4-year-old daughter and me to play together,” says C. David Gammel. “Within a week, she was beating me at boxing and bowling pretty regularly.”

Ella has a lot of excess kinetic energy, which is a great asset for the Wii. That’s my girl!

My Wikipedia Contribution Lives On

Deane at Gadgetopia recently discovered the Unconference entry on Wikipedia. This is a topic I created on Wikipedia back in November 2005. It caused a bit of a kerfluffle with Dave Winer at the time, who slammed me indirectly for getting the attribution on the term wrong.

Since I created the entry, it has been edited hundreds of times (only a few by me) and is a nice comprehensive, yet concise, article now. This is one of the reasons why I love the Internet and the Web.

On Launching and Marketing a Redesigned Web Site

There was an interesting thread last week on a list I subscribe to about how to best launch a major web site redesign. I ended up writing a white paper in response on how to best prepare for a web site launch from a technical standpoint: Five Critical Steps for a Successful Web Site Launch.

There was also a discussion of whether you should market the new site in advance or launch it quietly without fanfare. In my view, the decision should be driven by your overall goals and confidence in your timelines.

If the new site is the embodiment of a major initiative, making a splash with the launch may be in order. However, if you are not highly confident in your ability to stay on schedule, the soft launch will ameliorate a lot of potential risk.

Finally, when you do market the new site, focus on the new value it provides to visitors rather than the fact it is new. This sounds obvious but it is easy to lose sight of after the organization has invested so many resources in the effort.

The Value of Career Paths for Otherwise Dead-end Jobs

Joel Spolsky just posted a nice essay on how his company provides insanely good customer service. I have been on the receiving end of that service (back when Joel was often doing it himself) and it is indeed great. Read the whole essay, good stuff: Seven steps to remarkable customer service.

However, the most radical idea in the whole piece is nestled in at the end of the article. Joel creates career paths for his customer support staff. How can a small company do this? The career path shoots beyond the company within a few years:

Many qualified people get bored with front line customer service, and I’m OK with that. To compensate for this, I don’t hire people into those positions without an explicit career path. Here at Fog Creek, customer support is just the first year of a three-year management training program that includes a master’s degree in technology management at Columbia University. This allows us to get ambitious, smart geeks on a terrific career path talking to customers and solving their problems. We end up paying quite a bit more than average for these positions (especially when you consider $25,000 a year in tuition), but we get far more value out of them, too.

They pay good money and put their customer support folks through college (!) while they work the phones and e-mail, wowing Fog Creek’s customers. And then they leave for greener pastures, but it is by design. Highly talented people have to compete for these typically undersirable jobs, just for the chance to learn from Joel and get a great education. Joel has created the purple cow of customer support jobs. Amazing. But there is no reason you can’t do the same.

Managing the Politics of Your Web Site’s Information Architecture

I have added a new article to the resources section of my web site: Managing the Politics of Your Web Site’s Information Architecture. This article was originally published in Associations Now. In it I discuss how to defuse political infighting around your site’s information architecture by focusing on achieving your stakeholders outcomes and creating a variety of traffic guidance tools for managing your site. Here are the first two graphs:

Some days it may seem that the biggest problem with your Web site is not the technology that powers it but the power struggles that threaten to undermine it. Whether in a large, decentralized organization or in a small, local nonprofit, a Web site can turn into a battleground on which everyone fights for prime spots on the home page to highlight their programs. Too often, the winners are the ones who are best at internal politics. The losers are the weaker negotiators—and the visitors who give up in frustration without finding what they want.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By thinking about what’s behind the struggle, you as a Web site manager can de-emphasize internal politics while helping organizational stakeholders achieve their goals through—not in spite of—your Web site’s information architecture.