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Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Give great web

March 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Your web page is the front door to the public and to your customers. It’s the first thing that most people see. Your web pages creates impressions and brands your agency. I agree with Candi Harrison that we must strive to create a positive image and provide great customer service.

To create a powerful, positive brand as a caring, proactive customer oriented agency we must create government web pages that follow these rules:

1. Audience – specify your audience – in the first sentence if possible:
a. Citizens/Industry/Agencies/Contracting Officers/Attorneys/Industry can find . . .
b. If its unclear – use “Are you looking for . . . ?”

Boring pages start with xxx agency provides aaaa services to bbbb. Defining your audience puts your customers first – where they belong.

2. Task – identify the tasks someone can complete. Make easy for your users to register for an event, sign up for a newsletter, buy your products/services, contact you, or fill out a form. Easy means just that – a user unfamiliar with your page should be able to figure out who its for and what they can do on your page within ten seconds. Usability testing is available from GSA’s First Fridays. Also refer to usability.gov for guidelines your pages should follow.

3. Readability – your pages should be readable at the 8th grade level – use the SMOG index to check them. Do this now as all federal web pages will have to be written in Plain Language by Oct 2011.

4. Brevity – are your web pages concise? Short so users don’t have to scroll? Be considerate of your busy user’s time.

5. Current – are your web pages up to date? Check to be sure that announcements within news releases, publications, powerpoint presentations, speeches and/or blog posts are also included on your web pages. This is also an OMB requirement.

If your web pages meet all of the above – congratulations! If not, don’t worry about it – do something about it. Take steps to address these problems. Most web pages are constantly evolving. Call it continuous improvement, agile, six sigma, or whatever you like – but do keep working on your web pages to ensure that your customers get the very best that your agency and you can give.

And yes – federal web policies, best practices and guidelines – apply to all web pages including yours. Everyone appreciates an easy to read page. No one has ever read a web page that gave guidance on an important issue and thought – “Wow, I wish that was harder and more complicated.”

We all search for information, stumble upon pages and need to quickly decide if we are following the right information path. Help your customers, and help your agency make a better impression on how well it delivers great customer service.

Managing your online identity

October 10, 2007 1 comment

What does someone see when they Google your name? Someone else with your name? Maybe a comment that you posted long ago on a website like Meetup, or YouTube? Maybe books that you reviewed or bought on Amazon.com?

If you’re like me, Google pulls up other people with my name – that are not me. I address this problem by creating my own online identity through LinkedIn, Facebook, and this blog. Hopefully someone googling my name will find those sources first, and make judgements based on the information provided there – information that I have created and actively manage.

If someone googles a name and does not locate a definitive source of information, they may find random sources that may not be complete, or provide random or false data. This false data could influence the person who is googling a name to decide whether to hire that person, fund their project, vote for them, date them, determine if they are trustworthy, or inform them whether that person has received traffic tickets, where they live, if they own their own home, and if they have ever filed for bankruptcy, divorce, or been convicted of a crime.

You can’t control all of the sources of information on the internet – but you can actively create and manage your online identity. You can try to manage what people see when they type your name into Google. I recommend starting with LinkedIn, which is basically an online resume. Its helpful to have your professional experience online anyway, so that you can update it periodically. As long as you have established your identity on LinkedIn, go ahead and ask others whose names you know to join your professional community on LinkedIn. You know that stack of business cards that you have lying around in a drawer? Go through them and pull out the most meaningful cards. Search for these folks on LinkedIn, and if you find them, send them an email, inviting them to join your network. The next step towards creating your online profile is with Facebook, which is an engaging and hip way to represent yourself within the online community. Facebook now makes some of its listings available through public search engines, and is one of the most rapidly growing online communities, with 110 million active users. Create a page for yourself here, being mindful that you don’t have to post a photo of yourself. Look for friends on Facebook, too. You can add your blog, your delicious bookmarks, concerts you are going to, books you have read, etc. to your profile – or not.  

You could also try listing yourself in MySpace, Spoke, Xing, Friendster, and Zoominfo.com, and PNN Online. Another step should be to create your own blog. I like wordpress.com. This is a lot of work, isn’t it? Yes, it is, and I would suggest spending 15 -30 minutes a week working on this until you are happy with the results. 

You may wonder – why even bother? If you don’t create your online identity, it will be created for you, and it may not be flattering. Do you want that potential job interviewer to google your name and see random comments, or in the worst case scenario, your traffic tickets? Or do you want the HR person to find your resume and profiles on Linked In, Facebook, Spoke, Xing and Zoominfo?  In today’s world, one has to put not just one’s best foot forward, but one’s best electronic foot forward.

BTW, this works for corporations, products, and services too. For example, why couldn’t Sputnik have its own Facebook page?