articles tagged with: charity
"We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge" - know who said that? You have two guesses... if neither of them were author John Naisbitt, you don't win a prize (well you don't win one either way but it feels good to be right doesn't it?)
Accessible Communications Consultant, Katie Grant, kicked off her engaging talk with that very quote. Katie quite rightly pointed out that information often comes at us faster than we can make sense of it, regardless of disability. So if you're the one dishing out all that know-how, you might want to consider whether it is meaning as much to your audience as it is to you. You should be thinking about:
Language - keep it clear and simple.
Tone of voice - is it appropriate to your audience and your organisation?
Message - should be clear and targeted.
Structure - have a clear intro and overview of the subject.
Content - keep complex data separate.
Readability - pitch at the correct reading level.
Web accessibility should focus on people with all types of disabilities - visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities - including older people with age-related impairments.
Potential audience groups who may benefit from an accessible website also include:
- people with long term health conditions.
- those for whom English is not their first language.
- people with low literacy levels / poor social access.
- people with neurodiversity conditions such as autism.
Some say what has caused a lack of awareness is a lack of empathy. Hearing from those who require accessible websites is so valuable and there was a lady present who kindly shared her needs and preferences with us. She has a few conditions including dyslexia and favours websites with accessibility bars that have the option to change the background colour (you can see this on many sites designed by Focus i.e. www.afclocaloffer.org.uk)
Focus work with many charities and enjoy enriching the lives of others through our technology but there are benefits to be had by all when accessibility is considered seriously. Legal & General spent a lot of time and money making their website accessible. In doing so they experienced many side benefits: visitor numbers almost doubled, maintenance costs halved and there was a huge increase in traffic to the site. Even though it's a few years old their case study is an inspiring read and you can view their case study online.
The message is simple. It's a pretty good idea to make accessibility the aim behind communicating any information. Whatever your reasons are for doing so, the benefits are countless.
Created on Monday June 01 2015 12:18 PM
2015 has already seen the Focus team working with a number of new clients, one of those being Bristol charity Alive!
Alive! are a great charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for older people in care. They get people dancing, singing, painting, reminiscing and using new technology - such as their 'Memory Apps' project which engages older people with iPads.
Alive! are growing quickly and like any expanding organisation, things need to change 'in the office' to help support that growth. So the charity have turned to the tech team at Focus to design and build a bespoke customer relationship management system, which will provide a single, centralised resource of data and information for the charity to use. On top of this, we'll be automating some business processes to save administration time and putting in place functionality to ensure smooth and consistent communication between the charity and their customers.
This bespoke approach is very much our thing at Focus - having implemented a web based project management portal for one of the world's largest ink manufacturers, as well as a bespoke digital mailing application for one of the UKs leading utility groups - we've seen the difference our tech has made to the day-to-day running of businesses and organisations across all sectors.
We'll be making sure the transition to the new system is seamless and will also be running a series of workshops and training sessions with the Alive! team, as well as the publishing our ever-popular screencast-based online help, which always receives really positive feedback from our customers.
We're looking forward to cracking on and ensuring Alive! can spend their time on enriching the lives of more older people in care.
Created on Friday March 13 2015 02:30 PM
Do you spend hours poring over Google Analytics, fascinated by all those numbers and pages being viewed?
Does it excite you, and empower you to make changes to your site? But you're not quiiiite sure what those changes should be, and wait a minute you've just found a new bit about Demographics, but oh that needs a UA upgrade, how do I do that? And then you decide you'll go back to it next week and make a proper plan... and next week you forget where you got to...
Sound familiar? Our (new) friends at OneSpace were in just that place - in fact quite well informed about Google Analytics, but felt they needed a bit of direction and guidance to get more out of it. So I took a trip out of the office to meet them. We enjoyed a few hours talking about their website objectives, and how they could take some stats from Google Analytics and turn these into some meaningful, achievable tasks.
These, I think, are three of the most valuable tips:
1. Link your site up with Webmaster Tools. Doing this gives you an insight into those '(not provided)' keywords that Analytics teases you with. Can be really handy for improving your content or setting up an Adwords campaign.
2. My favourite - always use 'Secondary dimension'. For everything. It brings a whole new meaning to so many stats. For example, Your top 10 landing pages are reasonably interesting, but add in the 'Device' as a secondary dimension, and suddenly you find that the top three landing pages are actually being viewed on a mobile... and your site isn't optimised for mobile...
3. Lastly, get to grips with Shortcuts. When you've got a really good secondary dimension view set up, save it as a shortcut. Makes it so much easier for next time.
Give these ideas a go, get stuck in and let us know how you get on!
Thank you to Paddy at OneSpace for his kind comments and biscuit supply:
"Thanks again for your time! We found that really helpful. [We've] talked to various SEO consultants in the past and not found it at all helpful, so we're very pleased with today's session."
So how do you work with Analytics? Do you get what you need out of it, and manage to make beneficial changes and developments to your website? Or do you dip in and out and not really have any direction?
Created on Friday September 19 2014 02:34 PM
Yesterday our good friends at MS Ireland launched their 2013 MS READaTHON campaign. It's Ireland's largest and longest-running sponsored read for young people, and this year once again it's supported by a fun Focus microsite!
Featuring moving robots, the site has stacks of information for kids, teens, teachers and librarians about how to sign up for this year's campaign. MSI were keen to ensure the site had a balance between informing young people about MS, and providing fun and engaging ways to get involved.
The site also features a video embedded in the site, ensuring schools who block videos-streaming sites such as YouTube still get to view the video and find out what it's like to have a family member with MS.
The Comms team at MSI have lots of control over the site, and are able to update much of the content themselves. They also have prizes to be won, games to play and other ways to get involved.
Head over to the site now - we'd love to hear what you think!
Created on Tuesday September 10 2013 11:54 AM
One of the new web sites we've launched recently during our very busy summer is a very worthy one!
Run for the Future - a fundraising 5km fun run - has been staged by the Rotary Club of Bristol each September since 2006, helping to raise funds for the Bristol Urological Institute and their work and research into prostate cancer and post-operative care.
This years race takes place on Durdham Downs, Bristol on the 8th September 2013 - and we've given the Run for the Future web site a facelift and spruce in time to raise awareness and provide information about the event.
We're pleased to support such a great cause, and wish everyone involved all the very best.
* If you'd like to take part and help raise even more money to save men's lives you can register here or call 0117 323 6328.
** You can also make an online donation here.
Created on Friday July 19 2013 01:26 PM
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
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