Category Archives: Ideas

Newsletter Blogs

Newsletter blogs are a much better choice for small organizations than printed or even emailed newsletters.  I explain more about blogs below but they are more like broadcasting than printing.

Newsletter Downsides

Printed newsletters are normally planned for a certain size and length and with special features for each issue—a calendar of events, a cute quote, a joke, a feature story, news items. All these have to come together at once and get to the printer in order to meet deadlines for timely publication. Then they have to be distributed. Mailing is expensive. Address changes difficult to maintain.

An email newsletter with a predetermined format will still have to meet the same content expectations, plus being prepared by someone who understands the format and the software. Most newsletters, distributed in print or by email, have become uneconomical and of questionable value given the amount of time, effort, and coordination they take to produce.

What Exactly Is a Blog?

Blog is short for Web Log. Blogs began as online diaries in which writers posted their thoughts and opinions with discipline and openness. A serious blogger wrote every day and was followed by other bloggers. For many of the early bloggers, who were writing before the easy to use Web existed, it became both a religion and a science.

A newsletter blog post is like posting a news item on a bulletin board or to a news feed than preparing a newsletter for publication. It has a singular focus and is relatively brief. (Mine are typically too long!) Posts are added to a website in chronological order but can be searched and sorted in multiple ways, like notecards.

A Blog Post Is Not an Email Message

A blog post is more formal than an email message because it is intended for a wider audience and for “posterity.” It becomes part of the historical record, not just an announcement or press release that will be thrown away. They can be published on a schedule or spontaneously. A calendar of events for the next month might be posted on a regular date, and posts announcing births or other happenings as they occur. Posts on special topics can be posted when completed—Planning a Garden, New Lamps, etc.

One post doesn’t wait until others are ready.

Blogs Convey Continuity

A blog post is part of a continuous process. Each post is a reminder of the last and the next. That continuity is established more easily than with a newsletter because posts can be read quickly and thus can be more frequent. Each post is complete within itself but the blog is “never ending.” Its past is always present.

Blogs Can Be Spontaneous

With the ability to post frequently, not all information needs to be collected before announcing an exciting event. Who wants to know about a baby born a month ago when it can be known within 24 hours? So what if there is no name yet? It can be announced when available. Distribution is essentially free so three short posts can be sent as easily as one long post.

Frequency can be irritating, but sometimes it is a welcome virtue.  A blog post can be quickly written and distributed with little extra cost beyond maintaining a website (which you should already be doing.)

 Wordpress Software

I use WordPress because it is free, well-designed, constantly updated, and used by millions of  other people worldwide. It can be used on your own website under your own domain or on the WordPress.com website where WordPress will host a blog for you. It is easy to learn by anyone familiar with word-processing program and the web.

What the software does is set up a framework for writing and organizing posts. Think of each news item as an individual snippet. WordPress helps you organize each snippet chronologically and by author, title, date, subject, keywords, etc. It includes a search function so the snippet can always be found by searching any of those elements. It keeps track of subscribers so you can distribute these news items as they are published or weekly or monthly. Any schedule you choose. It does many more things but in terms of replacing printed newsletters with newsletter blogs, those are some of the main advantages.

 

 

Visual Content from Visual.ly

The graphic design company Visual.ly specializes in  ”visual content,” information conveyed using a combination of images and language—infographics, videos, interactives, presentations. They pull together storytellers, number crunchers, designers, and animators.

Their Infographics start at $999 and are worth every penny. They are delightful and elegant and effective—the magic word.

Their front page is a continuous scroll of their work, which is amazing: Visual.ly

The blog entries explain data visualization: Visual.ly Blog.

Go to Visual.ly to be inspired and to have a fabulous infographic designed. Three examples   of staff picks:

English Grammar Verbs

Grammar: Verbs at Visually.
A Beginner

The Beginner’s Guide to Wine from  Visual.ly.
All Sci-Fi Spaceships Known to Man

All Sci-Fi Spaceships Known to Man at Visually.

 

The Perfect Website

Addressing the key elements of the perfect website as simply as possible is the basis for designing an affordable, effective, and fast website.

The Key Elements

  • Design: Testing on multiple browser capabilities, and screen sizes and resolutions. Valid HTML and CSS coding.
  • Navigation: The ability to find information
  • Usability: Including features that aid users and avoiding those that irritate them
  • Content: Information in the language of your users.
  • SEO: Optimizing a site for search engines is more than improving your rankings, it’s about engineering your site so users can find it using a search engine — clear content and keywords.
  • Social Media: In May of 2011, US web users spent 53,457,259 minutes on Facebook. Nielson reports that people don’t like doing business on Facebook. But a personal website might be effective.
  • Tracking and Analytics: 80% of all websites used Google Analytics in 2011, but the important thing is using the data from your analytics to  learn what your users are reading and looking for on your site, and how they get there. That doesn’t mean being user driven. It does mean looking at what is important to you and measuring it against what your users are viewing. You may need to present yourself more clearly.
  • Footer: Don’t slack off at the footer. Repeat navigation links, include your copyright, and contact information, including your company name.

The infographic from Visual.ly:

The Anatomy of a Perfect Website

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.