project planning

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Planning & Strategy

Understand the baseline
Undertand objectives, assets, and user needs

Organization: What is your mission?
Website: How will you use your website? What are your organizational objectives? What will you do online to support those objectives?
Audience: What do your audiences want? How will you support their needs using your website?

Surveying Users’ Needs

Research your audience and ask them what THEY want on your site:

  • stats analysis
  • online surveys
  • focus groups
  • task analysis
  • cognitive walkthroughs
  • user scenarios
  • personas

Visual Design
Create a visual identity, reflect brand, unify the user experience
Organizational structure ≠ ideal information architecture
The step between envisioning your design and creating it: develop a moodboard (a collage of visual elements that evokes a certain mood)

when “good design” goes wrong

Audience segmentation

The audience matrix = easy way to…
Stay focused on your audiences
give consideration to your own organizational needs
start building user-centric information architecture
ultimately create a design that works with your usability needs

Column 1
List audiences
Column 2
What do they need?
Column 3
What do you want from them?
Column 4
Preliminary sitemap ideas

Testing & Analytics

  • Design decisions made not only on aesthetics, but on the speed at which a user can complete a task
  • Focus on making people use their computers more efficiently
  • Design decisions are driven by cognitive psychology research and A/B testing
  • Design standards are captured in a global style guide which requires usable code

Where should you incorporate user testing into the redesign timeline?
How long does it usually last?
How do you implement new design ideas at that point in the process?

Determine your top entry pages and make incremental adjustments

2 environments:

  1. You have an ongoing presence and you want to see what’s working/what’s not
  2. Complete site redesign

So process goes like this:

  1. Audience research
  2. Document audiences, their needs, your needs
  3. Develop a sitemap
  4. Develop wireframes
  5. Now you can design for all of these site elements

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Podcasts are becoming more mainstream. People could be consuming podcasts without even realizing it. It is perfectly acceptable to ease your way into podcasting and slowly grow; start with simple tools and build from there.

Planning a Podcast

  1. Strategize
    • Write down some goals and track your progress
  2. Focus on your audience (the constituents you want to attract or who are already involved)
    • Find out what they are already listening to so you can determine themes you may want to embed in your own messages
  3. Consider your story
    • Look at what has been successful for other podcasters
  4. Consider hardware options (remember: the fancier the hardware, the more complicated it may be to use)
    • USB headset: the cheapest, easiest option
    • Dynamic ($20-30) or condenser mics ($150-500): condenser is powered from external source (mixer or plug), all mics pick up vibrations (use a boom stand!)
    • Pop guard (to prevent popping P’s): make your own out of coat hanger & old pantyhose
    • Soundboard: plugs directly into your computer, allows you to record each individual on a separate track, allows you to back up a podcast to an external device WHILE recording it
    • Mobile devices: perfect for in the field, on the move, or catching events live
    • Video recording: Flip cams
  5. Consider software options
    • Audacity
    • Garage Band (Mac)
    • Sony Sound Forge
    • Adobe Audition
    • Levelator
    • Skype
      • Pamela
      • Hot Recorder
      • Audio Hijack Pro
  6. Production considerations
    • Editing/clean up: when editing, keep file format as WAV (large, uncompressed); only final output is MP3
    • Bit rate: increase bit rate by using mono, don’t go under 32, >64 for best quality
    • Stereo vs. mono: stereo may be distracting
    • ID3 tags: edit these directly in iTunes
    • Images
    • iTunes tags
    • Show notes: write a description of your overall show as well as descriptions for individual episodes; include resources and URLs referenced
    • Overall length: depends on the topic &mash; usually 10–30 mins for a meaty subject
  7. Decide where to host your podcasts
    • Consider bandwidth limits
  8. Hit a critical mass of podcasts before publishing (at least 5 episodes)
  9. Promote your podcasts on social networks
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Blogs (especially WordPress plugins)
    • Digg
    • Reddit
    • LinkedIn
    • StumbleUpon
    • YouTube
  10. Make use of cross-channel promotion: don’t let you podcast become an “island” from your other media — integrate!
    • Website
    • Email
    • Newsletters
    • Press Releases
    • Advertisements
    • Partners
  11. Solicit feedback


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(And how does it connect to your website?)

Elements of a strong nonprofit brand:

  1. Organizational: vision mission, values, objectives, audiences
  2. Conceptual: personality, positioning statement — internal only
  3. Visual: logo, colors, fonts, imagery
  4. Written: name, tagline, mission statement, key messages, boilerplate
  5. Spoken: elevator pitch
  6. Experiential: programs spaces, website, social media, print, phones

Determine Your Audience’s Needs

  • Google Analytics
  • Surveys
  • Create user persona(s)
    • write up story about who your users are
    • what’s their age, comfort level with the web, etc.
  • User testing
    • sit next to someone and do a website scavenger hunt
    • ex: if you wanted to donate to our org, where would you go?

Case Studies

CrossCultural Solutions

  1. Invest in CMS
  2. Incorporate years of volunteer survey comments
  3. Incorporate staff feedback
  4. Develop user personas
  5. Design multiple wireframes (>6 by site launch)
  6. Relate site to CCS community
  7. Planned site map with SEO/SEM
  8. Use brand manual and style guides
  9. Learned from Google Analytics, HeatMapping!

Lessons Learned

  • Keep brand manual, style guide, project brief on hand throughout design and implementation
  • Commit to ongoing brand development. Launch, revise, launch, etc. (keep in mind phase 2 and 3 of website!)
  • More user testing by stakeholders before launch (allow more than a few days!)

How to Get Started

  • Look at your qualitative and quantitative data
  • Listen to buzz, and embrace the positive brand love
  • Learn from your peers and other key players you feel are in a non-competing position

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Answering foundational questions early in the process will:

  • Set you on the right path
  • Help you sift through technology decisions, especially giant feature lists
  • Support you if a crisis arises

Questions to Answer

If you don’t answer these questions sooner, you will answer them later.
An answer is better than no answer
It’s about process, research, analysis, discussion, alignment.


Clients? Donors? Advocates? Activists? Volunteers?
Who are they in terms of age, gender, profession, social technographics (how they participate online)?
If your potential community members exist on Facebook, but you have something to offer more than Facebook and you don’t want to be locked into that particular tool, it’s perfectly okay


Where are they online? Offline?
Who will the community NOT serve?

  • Age
  • Country

It’s about setting expectations. You can still welcome those outside direct service (diversity is good).


Why are we doing this?


What is our mission, vision, purpose, focus, goals?

What values do we hold? What are your areas of distrust? What does success look like?


How does change happen?

How is our organization limited?

  • Budget
  • Time
  • Development resources
  • IT support

How involved do we want/need to be in the community?
How will we sustain the community?
How will we support diversity/dissent?


When do we expect results? When should be expect results?
Don’t expect any results in first 3–6 months.
1 year = hint of results
2 years = solid results


  • Start with a purpose in mind
  • Slowly build your audience/collaborators
    • the first 10 members set the tone
    • recruit people who set the standards for participation and achievement
  • Experiment and get the tool mix right
  • Understand and nurture your community
  • Segment your community
    • Heavy contributors
    • Intermittent contributors
    • Lurkers

Community management

Empower your super users
Make it easy to find, join, and act: welcome your community members
Engage with your community
Learn from your mistakes

Wrap Up

It’s about people and processes.
Hit as many of the big questions as you can.
Reflect back on your answers while reviewing technology options.
Be flexible — experimentation is okay!
Review your questions and answers and update as necessary.

Session wiki:

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  • Form an action group of those on campus (staff, faculty, students!) interested in Twitter and other social media
  • Hold a Twitter sandbox
    • Show how easy it is; how little time it takes
    • Showcase tools to make it even easier: TweetDeck, twhirl, Firefox extensions
  • Ask folks who are active on Yammer to consider posting on Twitter
  • Encourage these new Twitterers to tweet about work projects but also their personal interests — these Twitter accounts need personality and a face behind them
  • Emphasize the need to follow others: find counterparts at other higher ed institutions, people with similar personal interests, anyone you find interesting
  • Stress importance of having conversations on Twitter
    • If someone has a question about obtaining a visa, and you are qualified to answer — go for it! Link them to the video you made or the blog post you wrote!
    • Your conversations don’t directly have to benefit MIIS; they can establish your credibility and help craft your digital personality/identity.
  • Listen to Twitter chatter: assign people specific listening areas/terms that are relevant to them and have them monitor conversations regarding these topics
  • Use Google Alerts/Twitter Search
    • Possible search terms: MBA, Monterey, policy, MIIS, Monterey Institute, translation, interpretation, translate, interpret, language, language teaching, language education, localization management, TESOL, grad school, financial aid, visas
  • By summer, brainstorm goals and tactical approaches
  • Determine which tool(s) best suit what we want to accomplish
  • Develop standard operating procedure for the Twitter team
  • Audience: 2010 enrollment targets(?)

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Assigned Reading

Definition of Social Media by Liz Strauss
A Primer on Social Media by Jocelyn Harmon
Is Web 2.0 Software You Purchase from Microsoft and other Stupid Questions You Might Be Afraid to Ask by Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog


The concept of social media may be relatively new to key decision-makers at MIIS. Rob and I must consider how we will introduce Twitter and explain why becoming part of the Twitterverse is so important.

Explaining Twitter to those unacquainted with the service is no easy task. Since microblogging is still relatively new, it is often misunderstood by those who are tech-savvy. I would compare Twitter to a blog, but also stress the fact that each “entry” is limited to 140 characters. These Twitter updates (or “tweets”) are much shorter than a normal blog entry; therefore, it will take much less time to prepare and update Twitter than to maintain a normal blog.

I would begin by showing examples of how other higher ed institutions are using Twitter:

Twitter can be used in many different ways, so we should have an audience/focus in mind before we present our idea to the key decision-makers. Because the Monterey Institute is so small, I think it would be wise to begin with only one Twitter account (as opposed to some schools who have a separate Twitter name for admissions, athletics, etc.).

Finally, we must show the decision-makers how easy it will be to implement. We will have to decide who will have access to the MIIS Twitter account (probably more than one person) and how often they will be responsible for posting. For those unfamiliar with Twitter, we can provide examples of appropriate tweets. Each tweet should serve a purpose (such as promoting an event, announcing a deadline change, introducing a new MIIS employee, and so on).

In order to be successful on Twitter, we will also need to keep track of who is tweeting about MIIS and follow up with them if needed (I especially believe this after reading Ten 10 Reasons to Monitor Twitter as a University or College). “Following” people who follow MIIS on Twitter will also increase our credibility and help expand our Twitter network.

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