articles tagged with: charity
Sometimes part of the 'Information Architecture' planning stage of a website project, Content Strategy is a fundamental part of the success of your site.
Most charities know exactly what they want to say and what their message is, but don't know how to say it - effectively - on the web. Good web content is powerful, short; easy to scan over and navigate through. You don't lose your audience in those first few critical seconds with over-long and hard to read content.
Charity sites need to speak to a wide audience (several different audiences, in fact), and tend to focus on emotive images and text, with core messaging about their causes and how they help. It's common to feature large images, video content or graphics. You can see examples of these on our friends at MSI's site - www.ms-society.ie
The more you can identify what your audiences are interested in - and respond to - the easier it is to produce content that is engaging and thought-provoking.
A key part of Information Architecture - 'Personas' - can be used as an approach for planning content. You could consider holding a content strategy workshop; using audience personas to help your staff empathise with each audience type and 'see the site through their eyes'. From this work, your web team can assess the information architecture (navigation and content structure) for the site, ensuring it's relevant to the 'Persona' findings.
Planning and developing your site content needs to begin at the start of the project, and follow the agreed milestones; not be a mad copy-paste scramble from old site to new in the final days before go-live...
Linked to your site content will inevitably be Social Media. It's a cost effective way to increase your communication-reach; and ideally has some strategy behind it to keep focus on what's trying to be achieved. Your web team can feed in posts and tweets automatically to the web site or other social media tools - without you having to repeatedly copy-paste!
Tips for Strong Content
Keep it short - use short, punchy content rather than lengthy, rambling articles. Attention spans are getting shorter, so consider using videos to explain issues in a quick, engaging way - Save the Children is producing short videos to tell stories much faster, www.wateraid.org.uk will tell you at first glance: 'Today, 4000 children will die because of dirty water and poor sanitation'. Those 12 words say it all.
Use images - Real, hands on photos of activities and events. No head-and-shoulders shots! Staff and volunteers can - and should - take photos all the time, and save them in a communal image bank. But do try to save budget for a professional photographer, for key marketing images on your home page, brochure covers, advertising etc.
Get organised - Staff and volunteers need to capture all the highs and lows they'll experience in their day - these real-life stories will provide relevant content that will engage readers. Encourage them to save their notes and articles in a story bank - or better still, publish an article on the site!
Talk to your audience - People are used to informal language. Be natural, conversational where appropriate, and use plain English - and try to say 'you' more than 'we' where you can. Use terms that make sense - 'stakeholders' means something to your corporate team, but not to Bob who just wants to know what you spend your donations on.
And crucially - using copy that 'normal' people enter in search engines, makes that article easier to find in search results.
Use Social Media - ideal for presenting your 'personality'. Instead of sharing links to recent blogs or articles, use tools like Twitter and Facebook to chat with your audience. Try to actually reply to/contact someone every few tweets. Monitor your streams and direct audiences to further content.
Have a purpose - whether it's to get new donors, supporters, sponsors or volunteers, there should be a call to action on every page. This could be contact or to find out more, or also see...
Use quotes - comments from staff, volunteers or service users makes content feel 'real' and current.
User testing - your volunteers may be pleased to help with user testing; set them tasks to find certain information, or perform a series of content-related tasks. Getting feedback and input form 'real' users will be invaluable, and can be fed into the site to keep it fresh and effective.
Top tip - Always think about the 'So What?' factor. Why does your audience need to know this information, do they understand it, and what's in it for them...
If you'd like to know more about Information Architecture, Content Strategy or any other topics from this blog, please give us a call or drop us an email - we'd be very happy to talk to you!
Created on Tuesday January 29 2013 01:56 PM
I caught up with WECIL in the Summer to find out more about their exciting rebrand - how could we apply this to their web site to not only bring it up to date visually, but also bring it more in line with the organisation's needs and objectives? With much of their offline materials already rebranded, WECIL were very keen to get their online presence sorted ASAP!
As a team, we went through the existing site and identified key areas that needed to remain in the new build, and other features to be either removed altogether, or reorganised into different areas.
Suggestions were made for some new features, which were considered against WECIL's available budget. Finally a specification was drawn up and agreed, and we started work on the design. Working with the new WECIL brand guidelines, we soon had page templates created for a home page and inside page templates; along with visuals for new features such as the Events Calendar and YouTube integration. The site needed to be engaging, visually attractive, and accessible. It also needed to provide multiple areas for updated information, to really demonstrate how active WECIL are in their projects and activities.
So as build progressed, the Events Calendar was key - WECIL hold a good number of useful, informative and fun events and needed to demonstrate this to their service users. Users can search by keywords, regions and even different Types of event - all of which WECIL can add to as time goes on. And not only that, but should a particular event be of interest, you can have the calendar email you with a reminder. Handy!
One specific change was the presentation of WECIL's key projects and research work - moving these into a Resources area has meant that although still readily available, the details are not in the way of more current areas of the site such as how to Get Involved, and the Events Calendar.
Feeds from their Twitter and Facebook accounts also feature, with regular updates from WECIL; plus a suite of visual signposts, to reinforce key areas and link directly to them.
WECIL are also benefitting from an upgrade to the latest version of Quantum - our bespoke, Rails based content management and administration system - giving their team a much easier interface to work with including access to the new modules such as the Calendar and Slideshow Feature Box on the homepage. They have admin access to update most of the site themselves, which means independance and control for them - but of course we're here to help when they need it!
Over the coming months, we'll keep a close eye on Google Analytics, noting areas of the site which are popular, not so popular, and how users are interacting. We'll work with WECIL to ensure we're getting the most of out the site for them, and make recommendations for updates or additions as they become relevant. Big thanks to the team at WECIL for making this a really smooth and enjoyable project to work on! You can visit the new site here.
"Can I offer our compliments on the site; it looks really good and you have dealt with us with the utmost professionalism and interpreted our requirements perfectly."
Created on Friday November 23 2012 04:54 PM
We're very excited to have launched a charity microsite for MS Ireland and it's been seriously good fun! The site is vibrant and energetic which perfectly reflects the excitement of MS Ireland's upcoming READaTHON.
The month long event kicks off on October 12th 2012 and is their biggest fundraising event. It was 25 years ago that the late, great Roald Dahl launched the first campaign. Ever since then the MS READaTHON has been encouraging young people to read while raising much needed funds for services to those living with Multiple Sclerosis in Ireland. The concept is straightforward; Children are sponsored by family and friends to read as many books as they can in one month, it's simple but extremely effective.
With the design theme focusing on monsters that eat books we've gone back to our childhoods here at Focus and let our imaginations run wild! We threw in scratches, claws and bite marks, adding character and a sense of chaos. We have also emphasized the fun factor and encouraged interaction by embedding videos and games.
The site, just like the event, appeals not only to kids and teenagers but adults too. So, why not enjoy yourself and do a great thing for charity by getting involved? You’ll be glad you did!
Created on Wednesday September 12 2012 09:06 AM
Thrilled to bits! That's the reaction from our friends at The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland to the launch of their brand new website yesterday!
The Society, one of Ireland's largest charities, work with people with MS, their families and carers, health professionals, students and others who are interested in or concerned about MS. We've been working with MS Ireland since 2007 - not only helping to create their main Society website, but several dedicated campaign microsites too - such as ReadAThon and Tea Party (with McVities). So we were excited to begin working with the Comms team on the structure and design of their brand new site earlier this year.
As well as making sure the web site would be engaging, contemporary and informative, we were briefed that it's key objective was to help create a community of users who could interact with the site and each other through it - providing users and viewers the opportunity to contribute, comment and collaborate on news and views surrounding Multiple Sclerosis.
Through a number of workshops and presentations, the site began to take shape; the creative phase concentrated on site design, navigation and the organisation of information which included introducing 'real life' signposts helping direct visitors to information relevant to them. The administration system that manages the site has been given a complete overhaul to the latest version of Quantum - our bespoke, Rails based content management system. The web site has also benefited from a number of functional improvements including a brand new and enhanced events calendar, which not only features a far more engaging interface, but also invites users to submit their own events.
The site also includes national and regional blogs updated by geographical editors, five separate blogs with editorial content from the different teams at MSI and user polls - helping get real feedback on important issues from real users.
It's been a brilliant experience working with the team at MSI, and we're so pleased to have this site as part of our portfolio.
Best go and take a look then! www.ms-society.ie
Looking forward to working with the team again on their next campaign site… look out for more on this soon.
"We are thoroughly delighted with our new website. We wanted something brighter, more modern and interactive and which reflected the care and support our organisation provides to people with MS. Focus were wonderful throughout the project, listening to our needs and building on those to give us exactly what we wanted."
Communications Manager, MS Ireland
Created on Thursday August 02 2012 09:35 AM
The studio has been very busy recently wrapping up some new projects, one of which is Thinking Ahead - created on behalf of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland.
NAI is the national advocacy umbrella for neurological care in Ireland, made up of over thirty statutory organisations working with people who have neurological conditions. The new web site was published in time for Brain Awareness Week, running from the 7th March 2011.
The web site includes a facility which allows users to find their local TD and send them an email or letter - lobbying for their support towards the campaign - and already over one thousand people have signed up.
Created on Tuesday March 15 2011 04:49 PM
We've just launched the new web site for Ireland's annual ReadaThon - one of the country's largest charity campaigns in aid of raising funds for our clients, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland.
This is the third year we've been involved and the site has a slightly more 'adult' look about it as MSI wanted to get book club members involved more than ever. There's a new blog and behind the scenes, some whizziness allowing the charity to create their own online forms.
Discussion about the design took place over the Irish Sea through the power of Webinar! Meaning we didn't have to put up with Ryanair.....
We hope the campaign raises bundles of Euros for a very 'wordy' cause.
Created on Thursday September 02 2010 01:37 PM
We have just finished working on creating a new microsite for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland's fundraising team - Take a Challenge
We were briefed to bring all their regular fundraising sporting activities together under one heading and one identity to promote the different sponsored events they have throughout the year.
I'm not into running or swimming myself, but I think I could manage a walk in cuba ...
Created on Wednesday February 24 2010 05:33 PM
The challenge was to create an visual identity for the event, and a microsite accessible through MSI's main website, that would enable users to log in and monitor their own contributions to their account.
They've had a record number of sign ups, and hopefully the event will go off with a bang - it'll certainly be something worth taking a look at for next year!
Created on Wednesday February 24 2010 05:21 PM
We've all been impressed by a new website launched by the British Red Cross this week. Its main aim is to provide parents with free, simple, trustworthy advice on emergency first aid that could one day help to save their child or baby's life.
What struck us was the level of accessibility incorporated into such a media rich site. As well as including well-known text-resizing functionality, they have also added subtitles to videos and sensible title tags on navigational links.
It's clear that they have thought about the whole range of potential site visitors, from the visually impaired to dyslexic and hard of hearing users.
What's slightly disappointing is that they fail to meet the basic validation requirements set out by w3c. Hopefully this is just a 'work in progress' glitch - it is after all mentioned on their main website that accessibility is something they are constantly trying to improve.
At a time when all web developers should be getting to grips with the new WCAG 2.0 guidelines, this site is a lovely example of user inclusivity.
Created on Wednesday May 20 2009 04:32 PM
A hilarious plan to bring a herd of painted swine into Bath's city centre in the name of art has caused consternation among council officials. Apparently it is felt by some that the pigs would be "inappropriate" and "damaging to the city's character".
The brightly coloured models have been designed to interest summer tourists, engage people with the history of Bath, and raise large sums of money for charity. Over £20,000 has already been raised in sponsorship fees, which will have to be returned if the conservative elements of the council have their way.
I was lucky enough to see one of the pigs close-up at a BBWA networking event last week. Beautifully decorated by one of the members, it will certainly stand out against the backdrop of Bath stone-clad town houses. Joined by a herd of similarly decorated brethren, the sight may turn out to be in turns comical, bizarre and possibly pointless. The idea gets my thumbs up though!
Created on Monday April 28 2008 12:17 PM
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