Customizing for New Members

Michelle Frisque is thinking and writing about how to reinvent the American Library Association as part of a pilot course about inventing Library 2.0. Every association should be so lucky as to have members like Michelle, Michael, Jenny and others who are dedicated to their profession and will blog about how the association could best serve them and their peers.

Michelle also mentioned one of my articles in another post, which made my day!

Michelle recently wrote about how the ALA web site could do a better job of serving new members:

ALA is a huge organization. I remember when I first joined I found it very confusing. How do you get involved? What is ALA doing that affects me? What will my membership in ALA do for me? How do I network? None of this is easy to find on the Web site.

Something I got from Michelle’s post is the idea of customizing your association home page for new members. Help them discover the organization by highlighting information, services and opportunities on the home page when that new member is logged in. Change it every week or every day! You can phase out the special content over time or allow the member to turn it off when they no longer need it. It should be fairly evergreen content, which is great because it is relatively easy to manage once it is developed.

A few other ideas: Provide the same content in an RSS feed! Create a serial e-mail autoresponder for new members that gives them a new tip about the association every day for two week after they join! You get the idea.

(A serial e-mail autoresponder is an e-mail announcement list where all the messages are written and queued up so that a new subscriber gets each message in order at a specified interval. These have been around a long time but I’ve never heard of an association using them, oddly enough. Seems like a natural for a lot of association promotions and content.)

AMS-CMS Integration Audio Download

You may recall that I did an audio conference a couple weeks ago with Wes Trochlil on the potential and pitfalls of integration association and content management systems. The session was very well received by our attendees at the live event.

I am pleased to now make the program available as a download: Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems Audio Product. For $99 you will receive an MP3 file of the audio and a PDF of the slides. A sample of the audio is available in this post.

And here is a special one week offer to my blog readers: use this code when you buy the product and get 40% off! This code will be good until one week from today (May 24, 2006). Enter this code in the shopping cart to receive your discount: V823R4E1 Please feel free to share the code with anyone you think might benefit from this unique program.

Learn more about the audio program.

Card Sorting: The Book

Rosenfeld Media has announced their first author (other than Lou himself): Card Sorting by Donna Maurer.

Card sorting is a technique that is used to gather user input to design the information architecture of a site. The technique is easy to prepare and run, and great fun. But sometimes the results can be hard to interpret and it is not always clear how to use them to design the IA.

This short, practical, and accessible book will provide the basics that designers need to conduct a card sort in a project. More importantly, it will explain how to understand the outcomes and apply them to the design of a site.

I use card sorting exercises with clients quite often. I’m looking forward to reading the book when it is done and hopefully participating in its creation (this is a beta book type of publishing process).

RSS for Associations, AMS-CMS Integration Event

I have posted the full text of the RSS for Associations article that was published in Association Forum of Chicagoland‘s Forum Magazine this month.

Also, I wanted to remind you that the Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems event is being held next Thursday. This is one of the few places to learn about the somewhat tricky topic of creating value for your association by integrating your data and content management systems. Register today!

Open Source for Your Career

I was quoted last week in an article for on how knowing open source technologies can benefit your career, even as a manager: Open Source Is Not Just for Coders Anymore.

How can a manager benefit from knowing about open source tech? If they are knowledgeable about a variety of open source systems and technologies, they can have their teams use them to rapidly prototype new services without requiring a significant investment up front. Successful prototypes can then either be further developed with OS tools or used to identify proprietary tools with which to build a production system. Either way, the manager has made a valuable contribution that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems

Ever wondered if you should integrate your association management system with your web content management system? Everyone says you should but have you really evaluated the benefits and costs of doing so?

If the answer to that question interests you, then join me and Wes Trochlil for an online event about AMS-CMS integration: Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems. This is a must attend event if you are contemplating integration or are not happy with your current situation.

This event is a 90 minute online seminar on April 27, with pre and post activities in an online community for participants. The first 10 registrants will get one free hour of remote consulting with either Wes or myself. Those first spots won’t last long, so act quickly!

2005 Best of High Context Blog

I just went through my archive of posts for 2005 and have collected links to the entries I think are the most interesting or I’m the most proud of. Here they are in reverse chronological order:

Can You Get a Bad Grade on a Wikipedia Entry?
From just this week, where I mea culpa on making an error in the unconference entry of wikipedia. This got me a link from Dave Winer, which provided about 700 pageviews of that entry in 24 hours. A new record!

Conference vs. Unconference
This post was inspired after reading about several recent conferences that let the attendees drive and provide the content rather than it being delivered top down. With the help of a few others, I compile a comparison list of attributes between traditional conferences and unconferences.

The 15 Minute Web Plan
Create a plan of action for your web site in 15 minutes.

5 Ways to Improve the Online Dues Payment Process
A list of tips on improving the dues payment experience online. The tips focus on the goal of making it as fast and easy as possible for them to pay you money.

Associations Blogging Katrina
A round-up of blogs by associations covering the Katrina disaster. I think the most compelling stories by associations on this issue were told via blogs in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.

I Read My News via HTTP
How RSS will eventually be used so widely you won’t even realize you are using it.

Content Garden Hoses
A favorite analogy of mine on managing web content flow in a large, decentralized organization.

KMpings is Dead, Long Live!
Retirement of the KMpings trackback service after a run of a couple years.

Announcing High Context Consulting!
This one was personally important to me, obviously. It has been a great first 6 months of business since my launch. This experience has exceeded my expectations. Thanks to all of you who have supported me!

Managing Logins for a Members-only Web Site
General recommendations on managing member logins based on years of painful experience. 🙂

Association Weblog Round-up
Another round-up post on association blogs around the web. Some by associations, some by association people.

Announcing High Context Consulting!

I am very excited to announce that I am going to be leaving my current position at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association this June to launch my own consulting firm, High Context Consulting, LLC.

Working for myself has been a long-time dream of mine and the time finally seemed right to make the jump. ASHA has been a great place for me over the past 5 years and I will really miss working with the wonderful web staff. I view the stuff we did together at ASHA as the best work in my career so far. Thanks to David T, Tule, Kat, Brenda, Dwayne and Glen for creating such a great team!

So, what kind of work will I be doing? It essentially boils down to helping membership organizations use the Web and web-based technologies more effectively and aligning those efforts with their over goals. For the long version, read my newly designed site:

I will continue to write this weblog, posting more frequently I hope. Wish me luck and send referrals! 🙂