Generating a marketing plan for a nonprofit is a daunting task, to say the least. Content strategy is an easy process that will help you figure out who you are marketing to, and how to talk with them in a way that motivates them to take action. Our...Read more.
Let's face it—writing content for nonprofit websites can be difficult. We all know the feeling of staring at a blank page and trying to develop compelling content. Unfortunately, research shows that great content for your online marketing efforts is...Read more.
Your website visitor's data is at risk. If you haven't heard about the legislation altering Internet privacy protections that recently passed through Congress, and is likely going to be signed by President Trump, now is the time to get up to speed...Read more.
Mood boards are a an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights and clarify communication. They will help you visually explain a feeling and in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand. What makes a successful mood board process? Here...Read more.
Rootid is very excited to announce the 2016 brandUP winner - Root & Rebound. We're thrilled to be working with this amazing organization to help them build out their marketing strategy and broaden their reach.Read more.
Information architecture and page hierarchy can make or break you. Your interface should be designed with your end goals in mind. Website visitors arrive with many levels of literacy, attention spans and 'will' to figure out how to use your website...Read more.
A style guide should have a few main components, but often times it gets bogged down in a lot of “descriptive jargon” that is just not that useful for your typical non-profit organization or association. A style guide is needed so that anyone who is...Read more.
Hiring a web development firm to design and build a website can be daunting—time consuming and resource intensive. Finding a development company to work with can feel a like finding a mechanic you can trust to work on your car. Here are six...Read more.
The California Family Health Council is a statewide nonprofit that champions & promotes quality sexual + reproductive health care for all. They are leaders in passing recent legislation that as of 2015, gives those covered under another person's...Read more.
Educating...I mean Engaging Your Community We throw around this idea of using stories to engage your community, audience, and site users a lot. I would say, most people take for granted that this is true and that it works to keep people interested...Read more.
Outrospective Marketing in the 21 st Century Conversion levels, effective mixed-media strategies, integrity of core brand promise, optimization…and synergy, what does all this jargon actually give you? As a company, we talk a lot about starting...Read more.
Oversimplified and Out of Touch, Current Advertising Lacks the ‘Nutritional Value’ Consumers Are Desperate For When I think of “going on a binge” it usually involves mass consumption of something that is not healthy over a short period of time, like...Read more.
A style guide should have a few main components, but often times it gets bogged down in a lot of “descriptive jargon” that is just not that useful for your typical non-profit organization or association. A style guide is needed so that anyone who is creating marketing materials for you will have the basic components and rules to maintain brand consistency and cohesion, but this does not need to be the next Iliad.
Your basic style guide needs to have some examples of your brand’s personality, how it talks about itself in different circumstances and then examples of the visuals that support this messaging. I have seen a lot of style guides during my tenure as a graphic designer and brand strategist, and more often than not I come away thinking, “Half of that was not necessary and only would confuse people who are not used to looking at or using this type of thing.” Keep it short and sweet, less is more.
Here are the basics:
1. Come up with a concise list of frequently asked questions about your organization and then answer them clearly with the tone and feel that you want others to use. This gives your brand champions/staff members/volunteers easy talking points without bogging them down in concept and explanations. Show don't tell.
2. Provide examples of how your logo can and should be used across your various marketing channels and materials so that people using your logo do not stretch or deform it. Remember to show black, white and colored backgrounds as well as in print and for the web.
3. Identify primary and secondary color palettes. If you really only want neutral tones with one pop of color used, show that, but make sure you have a enough secondary colors that your brand will feel consistent and unified without feeling dull and flat. Many organizations/associations have silos to their programs, so being able to color code these different areas is often useful.
4. Provide font families for print and web. If you are not providing people with fonts that you have purchased, make sure that you choose some strong, free web fonts. Always using Arial can get pretty boring, so look into widely used Google Fonts. Their library has gotten pretty extensive now and you can find some good stuff. In this section of your guide, you also want to show people how to layout text. Show a few samples of headlines, headings, sub-headings, body text, quotes, bulleted lists and provide line-heights and letter-spacing notes.
5. Include photography and iconography examples. Your look and feel is important as well as any sensitivities you want to make sure brand messengers are aware of. Showing samples of good photography (even if it is stock) that illustrate the correct tone as well as any color or texture treatments is important to make available.
Final Note: It is important to provide guidance to those who are going to create print and/or digital assets that support your brand. It is also important to have your brand messaging and visual identity clear, consistent and cohesive. However, this can be easily accomplished in under 20 pages. Keep it simple.
Need help with your branding or building a style guide? We can help! Contact us at [email protected]
6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Development Company
Hiring a web development firm to design and build a website can be daunting—time consuming and resource intensive.
Finding a development company to work with can feel a like finding a mechanic you can trust to work on your car. Here are six questions that will give you confidence to start the process today.
1. Where is the site going to be hosted?
Your site has to live somewhere, some organizations handle hosting themselves, but most don’t. I would argue that virtually none should. Hosting a website sounds trivial at first, but it can have a lot of hidden complexities.
You don’t need to have a host lined up before hiring a firm, but you should ask teams you’re interviewing for a web development project which host they recommend. Experienced teams will have one or more that they enjoy working with, and will steer you away from places they’ve had problems with in the past.
Some questions to consider when choosing a host are:
How are backups handled? Start with the assumption that worst case scenarios will happen frequently. If your whole site were to be erased, how much data loss is acceptable, and what is the minimum you need for a satisfactory recovery?
Do you want to be able to review changes privately before making them live on your site? Some hosts have a built in workflow that includes testing and development sites that are automatically configured. This makes it easy to review a site in a place that isn’t as public as your main domain name. Any development shop worth anything will set this up on their end to show you the site before making it live, but having this built into your hosting means you can try out changes yourself before making them live and/or your development site can survive past a shop moving on to other jobs.
How much traffic do you expect your site to get and can the web host handle it? Some organizations will get a handful of hits per month and virtually any web host will be adequate for their site, others will get a constant stream of hits and will need a robust web server that is configured to handle that volume of traffic. Generally speaking, if you’re getting more than a couple hundred hits a month, a shared server (GoDaddy, BlueHost, HostGator…) is off the table and should not be considered.
Hosting Cost Often we see clients looking for the cheapest hosting option, but we tend to warn them away from the cheapest. Cheap often comes with downsides: security vulnerabilities, performance issues and the additional costs associated with lack of developer tools. Usually paying a little extra for a better server and better tool sets will actually save you in the long-run. Think strategically. Cheap has its costs.
2. How are website software updates handled?
A content management system (CMS) is a software package. Just like your phone, or computer, it needs to be updated. These updates can have implications for ongoing costs to the site.
Security vulnerabilities will be found and your site can be hacked into if they aren’t fixed. If you’re thinking “That doesn’t matter to me, there’s nothing mission-critical on my website” then you’re wrong. Your website forms a part of your official identity, a hacker could alter the content of your site, or cause your site to redirect to material that could hurt your reputation.
If you have a technical person on staff you may be able to handle these updates internally, if not, then you need to have a plan for site updates. Some firms will offer maintenance contracts to handle site updates, some will tell you that you’re on your own. Either way, before you commit to working with a shop, make sure you know how you’re going to handle your site updates.
3. Who is responsible for writing your website’s content - internal or contractor?
Web projects can take a lot of time. Depending on the size that means weeks to months, maybe much longer.
While your developers are working on the designs and code for your site you should be working on the content. We advise clients to start writing content as soon as the sitemap is in place.
Other time sinks in the content process are:
Finding good photography. Sometimes you need to generate more.
Passing content to management and higher-ups to approve writing.
Bottom line: Do not leave this until the last minute.
4. Who is your point of contact with the web development shop? Who is their point of contact in your organization?
Things will work easier if both parties have one person to serve as a point of contact for the other. If possible, these two people should be passing most of the communications to each other. This is not to say that this is the only direct contact happening, and it shouldn’t be. There will be times that an in-house designer will need to pass on design notes to the designer working on the project, or people in your organization testing the site will need to pass on bug reports to the developer.
But what you want to avoid is having people on your end communicating directly with the developer asking for changes to features, or even entirely new features. That can lead to absolute chaos, as people in your organization may not know what the scope of your contract with the developer is, and now could be asking them to change or build something costly.
I personally have gotten requests from people working for our clients that would have added thousands of dollars to the budget of a project. Anytime I get requests for alterations or additions from someone who isn’t the point person, I make sure to ask the point person about it and make sure it’s ok, but not everyone is going to be so careful.
5. What tools does this shop use to facilitate communications?
Big projects, no matter what kind, can be messy. They take a lot of time, involve a lot of people, and iterations of design, development, and testing.
Keeping your communications organized will be critical. Working with a firm that has addressed this problem and can tell you what tools they use is very important. If you ask about tools they use to facilitate communications and you hear, "Email" in the response, that’s a red flag.
At the very least you should have access to a task management system, hopefully one that can double as an issue tracker. Ideally, some kind of project-centric instant messaging service should be in there as well, but that isn’t as essential.
Generally, you want to avoid situations where communications can be lost, or multiple threads of conversations can happen about the same topic.
If I email the designer about a header image, and the designer emails you about it, that’s now two threads of communication about a single topic. The designer isn’t a super-human, that person needs to remember which decisions have been made about that header image. They may remember something got said in 'some email,' but can’t remember to who or when.
With a task management system you have a Header Image task, and everyone just comments there about the header image. Everyone sees everything being said about it, so you all remain on the same page.
6. What are you trying to accomplish with your website?
You need a website, but why?
What do you want out of it? A good web development shop will ask you this question, a great one will help you answer it by interviewing stakeholders, customers/constituents, and board members. But in all reality, you should have a handle on this before you even sit down with a third party.
A good place to start is by finishing this sentence: “When someone visits our website I want them to _____”.
We often suggest to clients to think about the top 3 things you want site visitors to see and do and focus on those. A lot of organizations can end up with unfocused sites—huge things that try to be and do everything. Or they end up with iceberg sites, where there’s a vast amount of content hidden beneath a deceptively sparse homepage. Think about it this way: Do you want people to be signing up for your email list? Then highlight the signup form so you see it immediately when the page loads.
Do you have a large media library you’re trying to have accessed? Don’t hide the only link to it in a dropdown menu, highlight it multiple times on the homepage with some kind of featured item area, and maybe a slider that highlights categories. Looking for donations? Make it impossible to miss the donate button and highlight what donations are being used for with your site.
A good firm will help you think strategically about your web development goals and flesh out a strong plan of action. Ultimately, you should have a handle on your goals before talking to anyone. No one knows your organization like you do, so getting this legwork done before hiring someone else will mean that you’re going to get more for your money in the long run.
Need Help? Contact Rootid.
Of course, if you need additional help, or have more questions. Contact us!
Generating a marketing plan for a nonprofit is a daunting task, to say the least. Content strategy is an easy process that will help you figure out who you are marketing to, and how to talk with them in a way that motivates them to take action.
Our 2016/17 brandUP Awardee is Root & Rebound, an amazing organization that helps guide reentry for formerly incarcerated people and their families. They recently launched an online training hub, which needed an effective marketing strategy to build awareness for this incredible new tool.
Since Root & Rebound already has exceptional branding, we focused this project on helping them create a build a strong and holistic content strategy that would serve as a foundation for the marketing communications going forward.
We’ll break the process into simple steps below.
What is content strategy?
Put simply, content strategy is a way that you organize content and messaging across your marketing channels to appeal to specific audiences, supporters or potential supporters. By analyzing your audiences, you can create compelling content that will motivate them to take some kind of action.
I began my career as a teacher and school administrator, so that informs the way we approach content strategy to a large degree.
As a whole, Rootid’s approach to Communications is more about helping our clients authentically educate their stakeholders and constituents, rather than advertise to them.
“ ... a tendency to optimize for reactions, leading to a world of content candy stores, rather than informational organic produce.” - Jon Crowley
Effective content strategy is not just defining your audiences and how you are going to ‘tell them stuff,’ it is thinking more holistically—taking into consideration who they are, what they like to do, what they want from you and then, finally, what you want from them.
A strong content strategy puts the core values of your organization at the center and then pairs them with the needs of your stakeholders and constituents.
So what is the process for developing content strategy? We break it down into steps below.
Identify Your Audiences
When starting a content strategy project with clients, we begin by asking them to identify all of the types of people their organization interacts with. By defining those people and considering their worldviews, personalities and lives (what they like to do in their free time, what they value, etc.) we are then able to group them by similarities.
Build Your Personas
Persona is just a fancy way to say you are grouping your audience members by what motivates them and then creating a ‘faux’ person/profile to represent those wants and needs. Once you know who your personas are, you can start building scenarios of how best to introduce, educate and inspire.
For Root & Rebound, we found the audiences who would be using, talking and supporting their online training hub fell into three categories/personas, which we named: ‘Motivated Second Chancers & Their Loved Ones,’ ‘Community Connectors,’ and ‘Inspired Contributors.’ Each of these groups would approach their Reentry Training Hub in a unique way, so they would need to be addressed accordingly.
Remember, a good content strategy is about connecting the needs of your audience with your core values. Just like establishing a new friendship, it can not be about an agenda, but rather a relationship.
Defining a User Journey
Once you know who your personas are, give them names and personalities so you can interact with them as real people—individuals with hopes, dreams, motivations and needs of their own. The journey is how you guide one such person from unaware of your organization to a loyal brand advocate.
For example, we named Root & Rebound’s ‘Community Connector’ persona Marco and laid out an example journey that a person like him might experience:
Marco is a social worker in Los Angeles at a large anti-poverty nonprofit. His low-income clients (many of whom have records) are looking for access to basic needs, including housing, healthcare, and employment. He is 4 years into his career and is both passionate and excited to help his clients in any way he can. Marco is frustrated/limited by the traditional approach of his work—he sees patterns and cycles in reentry and reincarceration, so he’s is looking for creative ways to support and energize his clients.
Marco is a member of Los Angeles Reentry Regional Partnership and one day through the listserv, he heard that a group called R&R was coming down to deliver a day training on reentry legal barriers to support practitioners and personally impacted people. Marco attends the training, learns about the reentry training hub and begins using it to quickly find specific information for his clients every day. He orders wallet cards and postcards to have in his office so he can easily share them with clients and colleagues. He also follows R&R on social media, sharing posts about various topics to help educate his friends and family.
Write Your Stories
Now that we know who our personas are, what motivates them and how they learn about our organization, we develop content that would interest them at the various stages of their journeys. For example, an article that Marco might want to read when he first learns about Root & Rebound will often be different than what he will share with friends, family and colleagues once he knows R&R is a thought-leader and trusted resource.
Build Your Assets
As mentioned above, Marcos requested wallet cards and postcards from R&R. He also started sharing articles on social media with friends and family. (These assets need to be created, but now we know they are grounded in a thoughtful and authentic strategy rather than a ‘build it and they will come’ approach.)
Building out personas for your donors? Make sure your website is optimized to generate the most donations possible. Download our guide!
Let's face it—writing content for nonprofit websites can be difficult. We all know the feeling of staring at a blank page and trying to develop compelling content.
Unfortunately, research shows that great content for your online marketing efforts is critical to higher conversion rates and engaging user experiences that lead to higher donations, volunteer signups and conversions for the nonprofit.
So, how can you write consistently effective content for your nonprofit website? Start by asking yourself these two questions:
What are the two things we want users to do on this page?
What are the top three things we want users to take away from reading this page?
Once you have those answers down, try incorporating these nine tips into your writing routine:
It’s important to include keywords in your page title and sub-headings.
Don’t use so many keywords that it’s not human-readable. It’s more important to provide users a great experience than cram your page with keywords.
8. Include Easy Ways to Get in Contact with You
Solicit feedback from users in a contact form, blog comments, etc.
9. Use Text Color Formatting Sparingly
Don’t use crazy colors everywhere.
Heed this common design saying: “When everything on the screen screams, nothing is heard.” - Some Smart Designer
And there you have it! Go use your newfound content-writing skills to change the world. No pressure.
In addition to compelling content, there are a lot of important factors that make your website effective. Download our website checklist to find out the critical steps to increase your site traffic, donations, and website leads.
Your website visitor's data is at risk. If you haven't heard about the legislation altering Internet privacy protections that recently passed through Congress, and is likely going to be signed by President Trump, now is the time to get up to speed.
Website encryption has been slowly increasing in importance with search engines, and has popped into the news from time to time due to data breeches at major international companies. Now, there is new reason to be concerned about website users' data being protected.
About the Congressional Vote on Internet Privacy
News outlets have been reporting that any data not encrypted that comes across the wire is going to be fair game for internet providers to collect and sell to anyone that wants it and there is nothing that individuals will be able to do to opt-out or prevent this from happening. While the time to switch to exclusively serving your site with https has long come and gone, this is one more good reason to do so.
Switching your website to load on HTTPS will encrypt the content of all communications between your website and the user accessing the site.
Safeguarding your customer's privacy is vital, since not just advertisers will be able to buy this data. Companies that are concerned about whistleblowers may purchase the internet traffic history of their employees, see what sites they visit, and any actions they took online.
Even when it's not as dramatic as that, this personal information being up for sale to anyone means that all of your users internet traffic is essentially public, and not everyone will want the organizations they donate to be public information.
How Does HTTPS Protect Your Users' Data
The good news is, there's never been more options for getting HTTPS/SSL set up for your website.
Rootid recommends our clients host their sites on Pantheon, and if that's where your site is then using the free SSL from CloudFlare is a quick and inexpensive option for getting your site traffic encrypted.
If you run your own server you can use the certbot provided by Let's Encrypt, which is also a free option.
If you're on a shared server your options there a lots of options to purchase and install an affordable certificate.
Get Started Installing an SSL Certificate on Your Website
So when should you start? Now! Absolutely right now!
If you're already a client of ours, email us! If you're not, we will be happy to hear from you. If you already have trusted developers you work with, contact them and get https set up now!
Mood boards are a an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights and clarify communication. They will help you visually explain a feeling and in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand.
What makes a successful mood board process? Here is a simple 5 step process that will help you succeed.
1. Mood boards help us understand.
We use mood boards as a conversation starter—a way to describe things that sometimes can not be explained as clearly with words. It is also a way to build common vocabulary so that when a stakeholder says they want something ‘modern,’ ‘clean,’ ‘friendly’ or ‘leadership’ looking, we understand the nuances related to what they are describing.
2. Successful mood boards are built collaboratively.
Rather than presenting what Iwe think the ‘look and feel’ should be, your team shouldwe all work together to refine photography, fonts, icons and color palette options. The discussion that surrounds what project stakeholders like and especially, don’t like, not only creates a strong foundation for the new visual language, but lays the groundwork for more effective project communication.
3. Mood boarding is about following your gut.
Since clients sometimes have a hard time conceptualizing mood boards, breaking thethis exercise down into more bite size pieces helps them engage more deeply in the process.experience the process more effectively. Mood boarding has been called They often rename it ‘art therapy’ because it becomes less about what thetheir brand, identity, print, website or social media campaign will ‘look’ like, and more about how it will ‘feel’.
4. Mood boards help us visualize an idea.
During theIn our first round, Rootid’s teamwe always strikes out in a lot of different visual directions that feel unique from one another. Then we hone in 2 more rounds to get to a mood board that feels like a combination of the strongest attributes that will ultimately define the visual language.
The process is so much more than building a collage of inspiration, it is taking that idea one step further and saying, “These images, colors, fonts, and icons combined give us a strong and cohesive visual language.”
5. Mood boards are a single page style guide.
In many ways, you can think of it like a small, succinct style guide. Rather than multiple pages of information about look, feel and messaging, it gives you a quick overview on a single page that still contains all of the needed elements.
At Rootid, our team uses mood boarding as a collaborative and effective way to generate a brand’s look and feel. It is the best way we know to communicate the nuances that go into building a cohesive and authentic visual language for any brand.
Review Your Mood Boards with Stakeholders
Don't forget to test your moodboards with your audiences. Remember that you're trying to visually communicate with a lot of different people: customers, donors, constituents or whoever else.
We have had many clients share their mood boards with those they are serving as well as board memebers or any other stakeholders. The more feedback they got, the more effectively they were able to visually communicate with their supporters.
Conduct stakeholder interviews will help you get feedback and refine your work. Check out our stakeholder interview guide to make sure you get the information your need.
Rootid is excited to announce the 2016 brandUP winner - Root & Rebound!
Founded in 2013, Root & Rebound works to increase access to justice and opportunity for people in reentry from prison and jail, and to educate and empower those who support them. Their goal is to strengthen the reentry infrastructure across the state of California, and to expand their work into other states, so that all people living with a criminal record in the United States have opportunities to thrive.
The Root & Rebound team brings amazing energy and expertise to justice reform, and we’re thrilled to be working with them!
This year, over 650,000 people will leave prison. The statistics of their challenges are staggering:
50% of recently released individuals will become homeless after reentry
66% will face long-term unemployment
67% will be re-arrested within 3 years of their release
These are startling figures. Sadly, they are not surprising given the labyrinth of complex barriers that have been erected in the criminal justice system for people upon reentry from incarceration.
When Root & Rebound first started, they served 100 people in a direct service model in their first year, but quickly ran into a maze of barriers across many facets of reentry. Their team figured if they, as attorneys, could not navigate this complex legal system, how could they expect social workers, case managers, individuals or families to do so.
In response, their staff of four, supported by ten interns spent 14 months researching and writing “Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide”— a comprehensive guide to navigating the reentry legal system.
Over the past year and a half since its launch, the Roadmap to Reentry has served as a powerful tool that has catalyzed the impact of Root & Rebound's work— empowering people to navigate complexities of the justice system.
Root & Rebound has moved this resource and associated training materials online with their Reentry Training Hub. Rootid will be working with Root & Rebound to continue to build out this hub, refine their marketing efforts around their mission work, and further expand their impact within California and across the country.
A Story of Reentry
Al's story of reentry is amazing. He is just one of many people that has been affected by the work at Root & Rebound.
Information architecture and page hierarchy can make or break you. Your interface should be designed with your end goals in mind.
Website visitors arrive with many levels of literacy, attention spans and 'will' to figure out how to use your website. If they are not able to find what they are looking for quickly, you've lost them. Start by defining the goals of your page, and what journey you want users to take:
Identify the "who" (stakeholders and target audience). Who is reading the content you are presenting? What do they need to know in 1 sentence.
Identify the "why" (your goals). Why do they need to know this information, giving them a line of context is helpful.
Identify the "how" (functional website requirements). How are they going to accomplish what they came to your site to do. (eg. 'Welcome to site 'X' you are hear to learn about 'Y.' You should learn about 'Y' so that you can accomplish 'Z.' Here are the steps you need to take to accomplish 'Z.')
By setting clear expectations for your users from the start, they will not get lost or confused in their process through your website.
The following is a short list of page elements and a few best practices too make your website's pages easier to read and digest.
1. Effective Headings & Sub-headings
Pages are typically divided into sections and sub-sections.
Each section is usually started with a heading.
Use headings in a hierarchical way.
The hierarchy of headings is limited to five starting with H2 - the most important - and finishing with H6 - the least important.
You should use them in the following way:
The page heading - the title of the page - is always formatted as an H2. It is the only heading on the page that should use this setting.
Use H3 for sub-headings
Use H4 for sub-headings within a subsection that is started with an H3
Use H5 and H6 for subheadings within sections
Align all headings and subheadings to the left as a general rule, unless the design of your website is mobile first and all your headings are centered....either way...
Use sentence case for all heading and sub-headings. Sentence case is the standard approach to using upper and lower case letters, mainly in titles and headings. It is the most legible for all levels of readers and gives them a visual queue that something is a heading (since each word has a capital letter).
2. Succinct Paragraphs
Paragraphs are single blocks of text which flow from left to right, often running to more than one line, and have a single blank line above and below.
Lower literacy readers need chunking, so if it going to take you more than 2 normal length sentences to make your point, consider editing.
All paragraphs should be aligned to the left (the default alignment). Avoid aligning paragraphs to the center or right unless you have designed a site that has intro sections of text that are centered. If you do, only have 1 sentence centered, as a rule it is more difficult to read since English readers are used to reading left to right.
Keep your text short and to the point.
Use bulleted lists with plenty of space between items—this helps slower readers absorb your information more effectively.
3. Text formatting
Within text, there are a number of options available to emphasize text:
Use italics sparingly. It is ok to use for publication titles of course, but large amounts of italicized text is very hard to read online.
Use bold sparingly. For clear emphasis of an idea or sub-heading, it is great, but large amounts again are very hard to read. Plus, you can't emphasis everything!
Use color very sparingly. Excessive use of a different color, for example red, makes it very quickly lose effect and again is just hard to read. If you must highlight an important point in a different color, limit it to as few words as possible and do not make it a habit.
Use all capitals sparingly. Excessive use of capitals can get very annoying very quickly and should be reserved for special cases. Words in all capitals are very difficult to read online and often feels as though you are shouting at someone.
Note: ALL CAPS are a great use case for buttons, main navigation items, and other situations where a single word is used.
Do not underline. As a rule, you should NEVER underline because most browsers make links appear underlined. If you underline text that is not a link, it will only confuse your site visitors.
If you are not a designer, or have not had a designer create a styleguide for you, as a rule, the settings for any table should be as follows: Cell padding = 5; Cell spacing = 0.
Text within cells should be vertically aligned to the top of the cell. This makes it the easiest for people to read the contents of your table by keeping the text from running into itself or floating at random heights within your table (depending on the length of your text).
The California Family Health Council is a statewide nonprofit that champions & promotes quality sexual + reproductive health care for all. They are leaders in passing recent legislation that as of 2015, gives those covered under another person's health plan—like a parent or spouse—the ability to keep their health information private. Shocked this was not already the case? So were we... and we are so proud to have helped them develop a comprehensive marketing campaign to support this landmark legislation.
When building a campaign there are a lot of things to consider. Who the audience is, what information they need to know and how many different kinds of assets you need to create to inform them. The types of assets span print, web and social media platforms, so when beginning the visual identity process, you need to keep in mind how your design elements are going to be used.
Who are the audiences? To market this landmark legislation there are a few important groups to consider.
Providers: Since it is their job to alert and to educate their patients about these new confidentiality rights, the visual language for this campaign needed to be clean, clear and welcoming.
Patients: There is a large range of age groups to appeal to, so the basic artwork and themes needed to feel universal. Then you can focus more specifically on distinct groups through social media as needed.
Partners: A lot of different people and organizations participated in getting this important legislation passed so the artwork created needed to also appeal to their organizational stakeholders.
What information do they need to know? Especially with new legislation, there is often A LOT of information that needs to be shared. Leaning that down to items that are easily digestible is an undertaking unto itself. Working together, we determined that a combination of "take action" language and the bare minimum of descriptive text would be the most effective way to communicate this information.
How many different kinds of assets need to be created? Next, we determined how many different types of assets we needed across print, web and social media. With print design in particular, it is important to create only what you need. We want to always be conscious of what will actually be useful to people versus what will just end up in the recycling bin. We decided to create Posters and Info Sheets for health care providers, Postcards and Wallet Cards for patients so they could take a small reminders with them, a micro-website for people to access via web or mobile, and of course custom Facebook and Twitter headers. [view all resources]
This was a really fun project to work on with everyone over at CFHC—we are thrilled to have been a part of it!
We throw around this idea of using stories to engage your community, audience, and site users a lot. I would say, most people take for granted that this is true and that it works to keep people interested in what you are talking about, but do you know why?
Go back to grammar or high school for a minute and think about your favorite teacher...or even just a teacher that you remember. What do you remember about them? For me, one of my favorite history teachers was known for 2 things, his clothes (he looked like he had stepped out of Hemingway novel) and his stories. I am not sure his stories were actually about history, but I gander that he was teaching us more about life in that class anyways. And it worked, we felt safe in his classroom to talk about "real" issues and we could discuss history and current events more openly—reflecting, discussing and considering different viewpoints than what we found in our textbooks. He engaged us and therefore taught us...A LOT.
Ok, so why did his stories engage us, since that is really the point here. It is because we could relate to them. We could consider how his experiences compared to our own and that kept us interested. I can not help comparing a lot of communications best practices with what I learned in my grad. school educational psychology classes.
John Dewey (one of my personal favorites) called for education to be grounded in real experience. He wrote, "If you have doubts about how learning happens, engage in sustained inquiry: study, ponder, consider alternative possibilities and arrive at your belief grounded in evidence."
Jean Piaget proposed that learning is a dynamic process comprising successive stages of adaption to reality during which learners actively construct knowledge by creating and testing their own theories of the world.
So think about it, all marketing & communications strategy is is educating your "people." They are your students, think about the stories you tell and what you are trying to teach them about your organization. Stories are very powerful tools, but you also need to give people something to reflect and ponder— something to take away—something that will bring them back for more.