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Posts Tagged ‘online’

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.

Create your Facebook and MySpace accounts before a hacker does it for you

August 9, 2008 2 comments

I’ve blogged before about the importance of managing your online identity. This week, hackers at the recent Black Hat conference in Las Vegas set out to prove how very important that can be.

At the event, some of hackers participated in an experiment where they created profiles on Facebook and MySpace for prominent individuals. They created Facebook and MySpace accounts for people who had none, and used data that was easily available online to create the phony profiles.  Then the hackers used the spoofed accounts to send invitations to others – to be their Facebook or MySpace friends.  Suprise – the invitations were quickly approved as friends by people who should have known better – some of them prominent security analysts.

So – what’s the moral to this story? Actually, there are many best practices that we all should consider.

1. If you had don’t have a Facebook or MySpace account – then you should set one up immediately. You should have one on both sites – if only to ensure that someone else does not set one up in your name to impersonate you.

2. Don’t include too much detail on your Facebook or MySpace accounts. Some people broadcast an incredible amount of detail about their personal life, including their home address, their cell phone and home phone numbers, and photos that may be a problem later – for example, if they ever need a security clearance. According to computer security specialist Shawn Moyer, “Don’t put anything there [on Facebook or MySpace] that you don’t consider public.” And what you put on your profile can easily be copied by other computers – so it exists long after you have deleted it, as you have no control over other’s server.

3. Don’t accept friend requests from someone that you don’t know. For example, as Esther Dyson states on her Facebook profile: “I don’t respond to friend requests that don’t have a personal message proving I’m not just another entry in someone’s address book. I’m just trying to uphold the Facebook credo that you should actually know your FB friends.”  She attributes the practice of being guarding one’s online security as “online grooming.”

4. Don’t install 3rd party applications for Facebook and MySpace just because a friend of yours has invited you to do so, warned computer security specialists Nathan Hamiel and Shawn Moyer, speaking from the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. “People are going nuts adding applications they don’t need. . . People know if they go on a computer and download a program they could get a virus. . . They don’t have the same view of how dangerous that can be on a social networking site.”

Social networks really don’t care if you get pawned or not,” Hamiel said, using slang referring to a computer user being dominated and humiliated by hackers.  Manage your own online presence – and your online identity can be a boon, not a bust, to your career and your lifestyle.

And as a final note, I searched Facebook for Nathan Hamiel and Shawn Moyer – and could not find an account for either gentleman.