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Site Redo / Refresh – New Pages to Add to Illinois Main Street Alliance – Part 3

This the third part of  my suggestions for a site redo/site refresh. Part one is at https://seodamian.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/site-redo/

Part two is  Here

The Illinois Main Street Alliance (IMSA), is one of the organizations I am working with. This is a small business association with chapters across the country representing actual main street or real small businesses. The US Chamber of Commerce being more focused on large corporations (based on who is on the board, and amount of donations and how it lobbies). So as a small organization, it has a limited budget and resources. Most are volunteered with limited technical expertise.

Recently, I was asked for some input as to what would I do to improve its website. 

Not knowing the answers to the core questions asked in part 1 makes recommendations a challenge. But here are some suggestions for new pages to add to the site:

  • Consider creating a leadership page that lists biographies and links of the leaders.  This should include high resolution and low resolution images that could be used by the press, as well as how to contact for more information.
  • Create a page with links to other related sites, including Main Street AllianceCitizen Action and other key partners.
  • Create a How To Get Involved page:
    • This page outline the existing resources that we have in our annoying for people to plug into.
    • They should also list other ways to get involved from across the country:
      •  If there is a desire to create other groups throughout the state. It may also be interested in advancing across. Obviously this needs to be managed in a properly controlled so as to not create a group that fights against ourselves, but this is a great opportunity for a way to make it easier for someone further down state to create a group supporting our cause in adding legitimacy to our overall organization.
    • How to donate.
    • How to contribute informational material, such as:
      • Other blogs,
      • Blog postings,
      • Letters to the editor,
      • Podcasts,
      • Ideas
    • How to share our voice page:
      • List of e-mail addresses and fax numbers for letter to the editor sites.
      • List of suggested letter to the editor topics.
      • Links to Existing letters to editor that are either pro or con that we are asking others to comment on appropriately to increase the visibility as well as to link back to our site.  This creates an action page for members to check back to on a regular basis. This also creates a focal point where key talking points can be shared in an easy to digest format.
  • A calendar page. This could list past events as well as future events and again is a good way of creating credibility both within Google and by the press by showing how active we are and how often were meeting both as a entire organization as well as subgroups. Ideally, this would contain not only press releases, press briefings, but also key events from the national organization, key votes and commission committee sessions of important legislation, historical reminders of progressive accomplishments. Overlaying the legislative calendars would be a great way to help show a more clear focus of our agenda and intent.

These are more individual pages, again depending on the amount of commitment to website, that can be helpful in acheiving a variety of goals from:

  • increased traffic,
  • more links on the web,
  • greater press communication
  • increased membership
  • increased involvement of membership
  • greater understanding of our legislative leaders

What pages do you feel should be on this site?

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October 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Site Redo / Refresh – Illinois Main Street Alliance – Part 2

This the second part of  my suggestions for a site redo/site refresh. Part one is at https://seodamian.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/site-redo/

The Illinois Main Street Alliance (IMSA), is one of the organizations I am working with. This is a small business association with chapters across the country representing actual main street or real small businesses. The US Chamber of Commerce being more focused on large corporations (based on who is on the board, and amount of donations and how it lobbies). So as a small organization, it has a limited budget and resources. Most are volunteered with limited technical expertise.

Recently, I was asked for some input as to what would I do to improve its website. 

Not knowing the answers to the core questions asked in part 1 makes concrete and prioritized recommendations a challenge. But, to start the ball rolling, here are some recommendations:

  • A Twitter re-tweet button, and all social media sharing buttons. This allows members to easily share group ideas into different circles with accuracy and ease.
  • Google analytics to allow us to track to see who and what  people are looking and as well as how much traffic we are getting.
  • Update the Graphical masthead that shows a variety of different businesses rather than a Macomb, Illinois sense of Main Street alliance. We need to show that various types of main streets across Illinois that IMSA represents. We have many members from across the state and need to let others understand not just in words but also visually:
    • City – Chicago is the obvious business here.
    • Suburbs.
    • Small town.
    • Farm
    • Soloprenuer/home business
    • manufacturer
    • Service business
  • Use more illustrations and images through out the site. The term a picture is worth a thousand words is just as applicable here as elsewhere on the web.
  • Easy call to action.
    • How to reach out to Senators Durban and Kirk
    • how to reach out to Congressman.
    • How to reach out to Illinois state capital Springfield.
    • How to reach out to us – IMSA.
  • Upcoming events
    • This should be where we are linking people to our site from our Facebook postings, as well as tweets, as well as our LinkedIn and e-mails.
    • Ideally past and present meeting agendas would be posted here as well.
  • RSS feeds. these would list and include key articles from the news about the different campaigns that we are most interested in, such as:
    • HCAN
    • PPACA
    • ACA
    • Citizen action
    • insurance exchange
    • dream act.
    • Smart enforcement.
    • rate authority bill.
    • Budget fight in DC.
    • SB 1729.
    • 1577.
    • These could be either separate pages, each of themselves for each feed or one ongoing stream. The more pages the better the website (typically) from an ease of use and ability to be ranked well by the search engines. Generally speaking from the standpoint of making it easier for people to find what they’re looking for, as well. As for the search engines to make it easy for us to rank higher and therefore getting more traffic. It also helps in allowing other websites to link directly to us in more appropriate lead directly to the specific area that they want reference.
  • Links to other blogs related to our main street business’ costs such as:
  • Photos
    • This area could have two different purposes. One would be just to build community.
    • The second would be to create a resource tool for the press to see images that we have available that they may desire to utilize with stories and articles and letters to the editor that we may be submitting or writing about. This section would need to have probably watermarked or properly controlled images that the press could utilize for reproduction in their newspapers. Once they get approval from us. We can send them full resolution versions of them.
  • Standalone domain name. Having a standalone domain and therefore standalone site is important in creating the credibility appropriate for an organization with the clout of IMSA. Multiple domain names may be appropriate, especially for segmenting into different parts of the website. This is a good way to help improve search engine results/Google ranking.

Many of these suggestions should be relatively easy to implement continuing to use WordPress as a underlying CMS or content management system. Some of these start to walk to the edge of WordPress’s abilities and a more sophisticated CMS such as Joomla! or Drupal may be appropriate. Again this goes back to the original goals and objectives and the amount of resources that would be available to help maintain and develop a website.

Again, without context, it’s really hard to focus on the right parts of your very broad question. there are a variety of tools in evaluating effectiveness of a website that are free that I could go through and highlight but it feels like those aren’t even the appropriate sense of direction to be looking at at this point. However, I may be wrong in understanding what we’re trying to accomplish your at this time. May I suggest that a conference call may be more appropriate and getting with key decision-makers of who’s working on this process. Let me know who and when and how will try and plug into that. Also understanding where we are in the lifecycle of this is also key. In other words if the website is 80% done, then most of  this is too late. Then I can move my focus elsewhere, on the other hand, if this is all too early, I can put this in a more exploratory framework.

In our next post I will explore some suggested pages to add to the site.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Chicago, How To, Internal Organization, Social Media | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Site Redo Brainstorm for Illinois Main Street Alliance – Part 1

The Illinois Main Street Alliance (IMSA), is one of the organizations I am working with. This is a small business association with chapters across the country representing actual main street or real small businesses. The US Chamber of Commerce being more focused on large corporations (based on who is on the board, and amount of donations and how it lobbies). So as a small organization, it has a limited budget and resources. Most are volunteered with limited technical expertise.

Recently, I was asked for some input as to what would I do to improve the IMSA website. It was a quick effort as part of a growing organization. There was not a lot of planning or design as the future of IMSA was not clear as it was getting started. With that in mind, the time has some to do a site redo or refresh.  Here are some of the questions and ideas that I was able to come up with to improve a website:

  • A website is usually ineffective and becomes a challenge, unless the goals and objectives are clear.
    • What are the objectives of the website?
    • How will those objectives be measured?
    • Who will be responsible for managing those objectives?
  • How much support is available to maintain or develop content on the site?
  • Does this site need to be viable before it will be updated either with more content or a full site refresh?
    • For six months at a time
    • The next year
    • The next three years

    The length of time between site refreshes will affect the design and layout of the site. If the site means to look good for the next three years before the next redesign and content addition, then anything that is “current events,” must be removed. On the other hand, if there is a commitment to create new content on a weekly or monthly basis, then the site can have a much fresher and more relevant look. These need to be determined upfront with executive level commitments to the question.

  • What is a level of sophistication of the person managing the site?
    • If there is somebody who will be able to continually evolve the look and feel of the site, it can be more complicated and interactive.
    • If it will be managed by someone with minimal technical skills, it needs to be easy to update and manage.
    • If it will be managed by someone with a design background, it can be more adventurous in the design structure.
    • If it will be managed by one person but a team will be contributing and editing different pages or sections, there needs to be greater definition of standards. This will require more thought up front.
  • Who is the audience of this site? There may be multiple audiences, but it needs to be clear who the primary, secondary and tertiary audiences are. Here are some suggestions of audiences for the site:
    • The press looking to verify  Illinois Main Street alliance.
    • The existing membership of IMSA
    • The leadership of IMSA
    • Prospective members.
    • Progressive individuals who may be business owners.
    • Business owners who may be progressive.
    • Other community orginizations looking to partner with IMSA
    • Public to be persuaded by the ideas and experiences of the business owners of Illinois Main Street Alliance.

Not knowing the above core questions makes recommendations a challenge. But defining these higher level questions will allow us to set the proper strategy in moving forward. In the next post I will share some of the recommendations I came up with.  These recommendations fall into some different areas:

  • Create more content.
  • Make content easier to re-purpose on other social media sites, and traditional forms (press releases).
  • Make it clear what the next step should be for visitors to the site. Many site owners forget or don’t understand that everyone is following the WIIFM principle- What Is In It For Me? And often what is obvious to an insider is not clear to someone new to the organization. Make it as easy as possible for new visitors to get fully engaged. It is amazing how this often is done poorly online, when people in person can welcome new people so graciously. The challenge I attribute to one of introvert/extrovert mindsets.
  • Allow for interactivity when possible. User Generated Content is the easiest way to share how vibrant a community is. This is so often lost on a static site, where the community is focused on doing rather then reporting like IMSA.
  • Consider a CMS or Content Management System
In the next few posts, I will explore more features to add to the site, more pages to add to the site and additional sections to consider adding to the site.
What are your key questions when starting a site refresh or site redo?

October 23, 2011 Posted by | Chicago, copywriting, Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments