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Ride the next wave of web development

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					Ride the next wave of web development
Fine-tune your website for optimum effectiveness
Jana Bourne June 24, 2003

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Ride the next wave of web development
The Internet boom and bust.  Using the Internet to connect with customers.  Understanding your audience.  Practicing principles of usability.  Creating web-friendly content.  Testing your site to maintain functionality.
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Where it all began
In the 1990s everyone was talking about the Internet boom.  Now they talk about the Internet bust.
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The Internet shakeout
The furor has died down, but the Internet is here to stay. Companies are using the Internet to connect with customers.  Retail – Ebay, online shopping  Online banking  Travel  Music – listen.com
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listen.com

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The Internet has changed our lives
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The Internet offers new opportunities for learning.

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The Internet has changed our lives
As consumers, we are more aware of our choices.  We are more informed
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What does this mean to us as communicators?
It’s all about the users. Know what they want and make it accessible.  We should focus our efforts on the user experience.
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Understanding your users
Develop personas  Gather research  Interview target audience  Analyze data  Write the persona

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Develop Personas
Persona: A composite (or archetype) of users or potential users developed from target audience research.  Personas are a fairly new tool used by the software and Internet industry.
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Case study: investment professionals

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Develop Personas – Interview your customers, clients.
Gather information:  Biographical information, including demographics.  Technical details – comfort level with technology, how they use the Internet.  What information is useful?

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Develop Personas – Interview your customers, clients.
What kind of business do they operate?  What motivates them?  Describe a typical day  Primary purpose for visiting your site – You’ll find out what they really like, don’t like and want.
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Gather research
Industry sources  Co-op data  Trade associations
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Analyze the data
Test your assumptions.  Question your findings.  See patterns emerge.
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Write the personas
Examine your research and develop the composites.  Write a description of each “person.”  Meet Robert, Thomas, Bill, Susanna, and Amy
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Meet Robert Chamberlain, the harvester
o Age: 55 o 75% of business is with Russell. o Tech savvy and communicates often via email. o Frequent RussellLINK user. o Almost exclusively referral-based business. o Russell is foundation of his business. o Communicates frequently with clients o Not a product provider – “It’s important to understand a client’s needs and provide value through intellectual capital. o Wants to make a difference in people’s lives.
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Meet Tom Thatcher, the builder
o Age: 37 o 50% of business is with Russell. o Frequent RussellLINK user. o Building business through niche market prospecting. o Client and prospect communication is a priority. o Wants research and marketing materials to support the Russell philosophy. o Wants to develop his own brand and needs materials to do this. o Wants more commentary on markets and quicker access to fund information. o Motivated by earnings potential.

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Meet Bill Callaghan, the generalist
o Age: 40 o 15-20% of business is with Russell. o Occasional RussellLINK user. (Dislikes passwords.) o Broad target market – “anyone who will listen.” o Depending on client assets, he promotes Russell as the product of choice. o Uses his own company’s intranet extensively. o Wants to find information quickly and easily – ideally wants to get Russell materials through his company intranet.

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Meet Susanna Riley, the filter
o Age: 35 o Doesn’t sell Russell funds. o Supports a number of people in a single office. o Solid understanding of the financial industry. o An excellent time manager, very organized. o Frequent RussellLINK user. o Needs to identify new content easily and quickly establish what’s relevant for her organization. o Wants content to distribute to the financial professionals and their clients.
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Meet Amy Blair, the ops specialist
o Age: 30 o Handles operations for a group of investment professionals who target high net worth individuals. o Regular RussellLINK user. o Thinks one of the tools she uses on the site is “clunky.” o Accuracy is important. o Wants fast access to information. o She is usually looking for very focused, specific information when she visits RussellLINK.
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Use the personas
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Filter all features, content, and tools through the personas. Use them to make decisions about your site development.

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Benefits of personas
Helps you measure site success because you make enhancements that you know your users want.  Helps you give the users what they really want – helps establish a framework around web development/maintenance efforts  Set site development priorities by using the feedback from the personas
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The next step: begin your project
Tools you can use:  Site review  Usability testing  Scope of work

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Site reviews – a detailed look at your current site
This document helps examine your current site.  Basic site information  Strategic overview  Tactical evaluation  Marketing communications review

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Usability testing – evaluating the user’s experience
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Test your site before you begin enhancing it to identify any critical problems that need to be fixed.

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Practice the principles of site usability
Use 5 to 8 actual users depending on the complexity of the site.  Create typical tasks and scenarios.  Observe the user complete the task.
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Usability tips
Watch what people actually do.  Do not believe what people say they do.  Definitely don't believe what people predict they may do in the future.
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Create a scope of work document
This document creates a project estimate and identifies the initial scope of a project.  Summary of business need  Proposed solution: site, tool?  Benefit to the business  Budget and timing  Strategic overview  Business-owned resources  Content overview
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The project launches
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Content development and design

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Using existing content
Now that you have defined exactly who your audience is and what they want, refine your content.  Existing content is a valuable asset  Use a spreadsheet to make a content inventory – this helps provide context for organizing and presenting content.  Look for ROT – Redundant, Outdated, Trivial content.
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Creating content
Set priorities based on what users want and use.  Create content based on tasks that users perform on your site.  Example: Scenarios for a sales force Task: Help investment professionals sell funds. Solution: Provide answers for commonly asked questions from investors.
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Creating content
Writing web-ready copy  Write to encourage action, including using links.  Use descriptive headlines and subheads.  Write summaries that link to longer articles.
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Creating content
Using blurbs Blurb: a line or short paragraph that evaluates or summarizes what the reader will find when they click on a link.

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Creating content
Present content in a web friendly format  Find out what Robin Macdonald thinks about Web Designs That Work. Or  Web Designs That Work Robin MacDonald wants to rid the world of web sites with too much text and not enough usable information.
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Creating content
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'Devil's Highway' No More Politicians in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah petitioned the government to change the number of Route 666, arguing that the New Testament's association of 666 with Satan was impairing the economy of the towns along its route.

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Creating content
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Fanfare for the Uncommon Piano By DIANE COLE Steinway & Sons, now celebrating its 150th anniversary, is not the only place where New York's love affair with the piano is on display.

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Creating content
Tips for writing blurbs  Blurb titles should be no longer than 8 to 10 words.  Blurbs encapsulate the content. If possible, use the tone of the associated document.  Blurbs should provide solid information, not just tease.
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Present content in a web friendly format – tips
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Avoid “click here.” Profile in Courage: Activist and Congressman John Lewis Longtime civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis received a special Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement. Presented by the JFK Library Foundation, the award coincides with the 40th anniversary of the freedom rides.

Present content in a web friendly format – tips
Profile in Courage: Activist and Congressman John Lewis Longtime civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis received a special Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement. Presented by the JFK Library Foundation, the award coincides with the 40th anniversary of the freedom rides. Go
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Present content in a web friendly format – tips
Weight the content appropriately.  Limit navigational elements on the home page to five or six main links.  Use global navigation for contact us, home, search.
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Present content in a web friendly format – tips

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Present content in a web friendly format – tips

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Present content in a web friendly format – tips
Create content specifically for the web.  Use web-friendly fonts and type sizes.  Focus on helping the user complete several priority tasks.  Avoid flashing graphics and make sure the graphics have a purpose.
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Present content in a web friendly format – tips
What bugs you?  Keep your site clean and simple: create site standards for color, design and use a web-friendly font.  Have a good search feature.
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Testing your site
QA test your site to ensure functionality of new tools and that links work.  Do another round of usability testing.
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Homepage usability tips
Make the site’s purpose clear by explaining who you are and what you do. Include a tagline.  CHS Cooperatives -- tagline Helping local cooperatives succeed  Emphasize the site’s high-priority tasks.  Begin link names with keywords that will attract the reader’s attention.
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Homepage usability tips
Use meaningful graphics. Photos of real people connected with the topic are effective.  Keep it timely.  Use examples of content, such as the first paragraph. Show your best or most recent content.
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Conclusion
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Focus on the user experience. Start by creating a detailed picture of your target audience. Audit and test your existing site. Set the scope of your project. Review your content and create new webfriendly material. Test again for usability and functionality.

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Questions?
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Jana@janabourne.com

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