Crediting Your Web Designer

I have been following a listserve discussion about crediting your web designer with a link at the bottom of your web site template. This link then shows up on every page of your site. This was far more common in the 90s but you still see it now and then.

My opinion: In almost all cases it is wildly inappropriate.

Your organization’s web site is there to support and build your own brand and drive your web site visitors toward the actions you wish them to take online. It is not there to guide traffic to your designer.

These links to the designer are also much more valuable these days because Google will use them as an indicator to enhance the designer’s placement in natural search results. Links like this appear to me as, at best, amateurish or, at worst, an opportune grab at some Google link equity.

If you do allow this (you shouldn’t), it should be part of a deal that recognizes the huge value of the links to your design firm. Get a discount, get some free services, something. Also, if you use or adapt a free template, including the original designer’s link on it is appropriate.

If you want to acknowledge the designer who created your site for you, a good way to do so is by creating an ‘about this site’ page that provides a link to the design firm on that single page. This gives acknowledgement for a good job done without pasting the link inappropriately across your entire site.

The Amazon Bar

Amazon continues to set the bar for ecommerce efficiency and overall experience. I have been telling clients and audiences this for some years but I had an experience this week that shows they are still on top.

I bought three books from Amazon yesterday, which get free 2 day shipping from my Amazon Prime membership. They showed up today. I could immediately access status reports on the orders and even change or cancel them before the products had shipped (although that didn’t take long!). Great experience, exceeding my expectations all the way around.

I also bought two small bags from REI for organizing all the gear that goes with my laptop and other electronic doodads. I selected regular ground shipping since I don’t need these in a hurry. My e-mail from REI confirming the order says I can access the status of my orders after 48 hours have passed. I have no idea when they might arrive. It was such a let down from my experience with Amazon.

The lesson, my friends, is to go through your own ecommerce process, including fulfillment. How do you measure up? Do your customers know exactly what status their order is in, when it ships and when it will arrive? I guarantee you are being compared to the Amazon experience by many of your online customers.

Social Network Fundraising ROI Calculator

Here is a nifty tool: Is It Worth It? An ROI Calculator for Social Network Campaigns:

You can use this tool to calculate an estimate of cost and return on investment for the recruitment and fundraising efforts of your staff in social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. It works sort of like an online mortgage calculator. Just enter the starting assumptions in the yellow boxes below and the tool calculates results automatically.

This web-based spreadsheet (you edit the variable values right on the page and then click the ‘Update’ button to recalculate) might help you to understand the cost of investing time and effort into social networking compared to what you might realize from it. This tool is designed specifically for fundraising but you could probably use it for membership recruitment as well.

Public Relations and Social Media

A question about sample PR policies for social media came across a list I am on. I responded by saying that before writing policies, it’s important to know how you want to engage online and to what purpose. Without that, any policy is going to be irrelevant, at best, or more likely harmful.

I have written a framing device that you can use for yourself, team, or even your Board to discuss at what level your organization wants to and should be engaged in online conversations: Four Levels of Engagement in the Blogosphere.

Here are some questions you can use with the device:

  • At what level are we currently?
  • What level would best serve our goals and mission?
  • What level will our current organizational culture support?

The answers to those questions should get you on solid footing for identifying how you want to engage online.

For more on PR and social media, see this post by Steve Rubel on why the future of PR is participation rather than pitching.

How would you rate your experience with our coat hangers?

I just got an e-mail survey from Starwood Hotels, who wanted to know, in excruciating detail, about my experience at the Annapolis Sheraton two weeks ago.

The survey had over 60 questions. Sixty! I skipped most of them. The only feedback I wanted to give was that the A/C was out in the entire building except for the guest rooms and that the elevator almost stalled out on the way up to my floor. You know, big important items.

Instead, this survey asked 10-point likert scale questions on every possible facet of the room and hotel. They may as well have asked about the coat hangers too. This survey probably has a response rate of less than 1 percent and would generate data only from their guests who are willing to invest an hour filling it out. These people are probably not their desired customers.

Paging Fred Reichheld

Podcast: Interview with Jeremiah Owyang on Measuring Social Media

I am working on an article for Associations Now about how to measure social media success. The questions I am exploring: How can you measure success with these tools? How do you know you are creating value with a blog, podcast, wiki, RSS, etc.? What’s beyond the page view?

I interviewed Jeremiah Owyang, about this issue last week. Jeremiah is with PodTech, an online video network. Jeremiah has been writing about social media, and metrics in particular, quite a bit this year. He even started a Facebook group on social media measurement.

In the recording attached to this post we discuss the idea of measuring engagement, subjective vs. objective measures and what the near term future might look like. Jeremiah shares several tips on getting started with measuring social media (follow the link for a write-up of these). Thanks Jeremiah!

Drop me a line if you are using social media at your association and would like to share your experience for the article. You don’t have to have solved the problem (if you have you can write the article!) but I am very interested in talking about the value you think your efforts are providing and issues related to measuring that value.

Update: Jeremiah has posted a few additional comments and links related to what we discussed in the interview.

Integrating Third Party Web Sites: Don't Forget the Template!

A common issue I come across in my work is the effective integration of third party services with the overall web presenece for an organization. And I don’t just mean the login system, although that’s been a hobby horse of mine for some time.

I mean that the visual and navigation experience of moving from the main site to a hosted service is often jarring and off putting. If your audience includes folks who are still a bit skittish online, you’ll lose them if they are not positive that the hosted site is actually yours. We can thank the phishing scammers for that.

What is a third party site? It is one that an organization has contracted with to provide a specific service, content or features that they either cannot or do not wish to develop on their main site. Job boards, search engines, discussion forums, social networking tools and blogs are all examples of these kinds of services.

The solution is to make the ability to use your overall look and feel, including navigation system, on the hosted site as a primary selection criteria. Many managers don’t explore this fully and end up with a service that has their logo on it but otherwise bears no resemblance to the main site. Exploring this fully during selection and contract negotiations will prevent a lot of user pain down the road.

And to you service providers out there, making it insanely easy to support an organization’s overall look and feel would be a good way to stand out from your competitors.

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.