21NTC Field Notes: Day 2

  1. 21NTC Field Notes: Day 1
  2. 21NTC Field Notes: Day 2
  3. 21NTC Field Notes: Day 3

Day 2 of NTC had a different vibe with an informal Q&A keynote after a couple sessions. I also had to step away for a different but equally engaging professional learning experience. I learned and thought about sketching, iterating on websites, antiracism, and more. Read on for the details!

Community Conversation: Website Accessibility

On both Days 1 and 2, I started my morning in a community conversation about website accessibility. Both times, there were two folks who were fairly knowledgeable about the subject and then a nonprofit staffer excited about learning but overwhelmed with where to start. I found that very interesting that the two conversations ended up being so similar. Some quick takeaways:

  • Prioritize quick wins that can have a big impact: Alt Text, Headings, and Color Contrast
  • Prioritize key pages. You’ll help a lot more people if you start by fixing issues on your most popular pages
  • Some “easy” fixes are for website editors while other “easy” fixes are for developers (and editors wouldn’t know how to do them)

The person hosting the group shared this article about accessibility remediation that I look forward to reading. (It’s a Medium article so it will be behind a paywall if you your name starts with F-P, Mars is in retrograde, and Punxsutawney Phil is napping.)


Workshop: Draw a Map to Clarity

Brianna Collins, Adrienne Figus, and Janice Chan
Collaborative Notes for “Draw a Map to Clarity”

You can make a diagram if you can draw a line and a rectangle! Some diagrams have standardized shapes for starting points, steps, decision points, etc. You can also use different line types (dashed, solid, branching) to communicate.

They break diagrams into three major types, though there’s overlap between the categories.

  1. Process
    • Flow chart
    • Decision tree
    • Swim lane
    • Process map
    • Data flow
    • User flow
  2. Relational
    • Org chart
    • Bubble map (overlapping)
    • Systems map
    • Mind map
  3. Organizational / Grouping
    • Affinity mapping
    • Card sorting
    • Venn diagram
    • Matrix

They used the example of a home page redesign to show how diagrams can help though a process with lots of examples.

Example of a complex diagram with three columns: Why our work is awesome, Here's how to Donate, and Why YOU are awesome. Various groups and topics span different columns. Board of Directors spans all three. Major Gift Donors only the latter two.
Swim lane diagram showing 5 columns for different roles: Web developer, designer, writer, fundraiser, and program staff. The general flow across multiple columns is from Fundraiser to Web Developer to Designer. Fundraiser, Program Staff, and Designer all merge into Writer column. Then Developer builds final homepage and launches with final design and developer quality assurance testing.
A “swim lane” diagram doesn’t include timelines or number of back-and-forths, but clearly shows the decision points and roles participating in each task.

We then did an exercise of making our own diagrams. Here’s the worksheet to make a diagram. I worked on a diagram showing my website process that I hope to turn into something more polished for publication and using with clients.

Here’s my diagram:

Photography of my notebook containing a complex multistep diagram. The general steps are Discovery, Planning, Content, Functions, Building and Content, Training, New Beta Site, Optional Soft Launch, and Launch

I think realized that my trusty old tool WorkFlowy can kind of function as an interactive flowchart! It also occurred to me how easy and awesome it is that I can put Workflowy in an iframe.

See tweets from this session including other people’s diagrams on the hashtag #21NTCdraw.

The session also referenced managing power dynamics presentation workshops notes, an important subject for any time you are making or sharing a diagram in a group setting.

Iterate, iterate, iterate

“Draw a Map to Clarity” Presenters

Optimizing Instead of Redesigning Your Website

Corey Jones and Kurt Voelker from Forum One.
Collaborative Notes for “Optimizing Instead of Redesigning Your Website”

This session was at the same time as “Online Communications Using Languages that Go from Right to Left”. I definitely will be reviewing those session notes and slides to see what I missed there.

The presenters had 6 optimizations, of which we saw three.

  1. Personalize – Right info in front of right people at right time.
  2. Repurpose & Reinvent – Using existing assets to
  3. Flip Physical to Digital
  4. Brand Interventions – Where can you improve telling your story
  5. Go Off Your Site – Places off your site to improve your digital presence
  6. Get Data & Stop Guessing

1. Personalization

On the web, look at top landing and exit pages along with featured/promoted pages and calls to action. With email, create welcome and on-boarding automated emails. You can also have “education” sequences. [Stream dropped…]

Optimizely, Hubspot, and Google Optimize are popular cross-platform tools for personalization.

Trends they are seeing when they apply personalization strategies, even in small targeted averages. For example 9% increase in pageviews and 15% increase for average time on site.

To get started: Crawl, Walk, and then Run.

  • Crawl: Audit & assess, establish strategy and segments
  • Walk: collect data and refine understanding
  • Run: Iterative additions and refinements of personalization

4. Brand Interventions

Both brands and websites evolve, and that may not always be in the same way. Often, our websites are overflowing “junk drawers” of content.

Sketch of upside-down junk drawer. The contents are mapped to a web page wireframe in need of cleanup and reorganization.

I love this diagram that Corey showed for thinking about home pages that lead to key topics. This reminds me a lot of my own process of developing home pages with my clients. Clearly I need to spruce it up with an awesome diagram. (Thus far, the primary theme of the day.)

Diagram of two webpage wireframes. Left one is homepage that tells a story from top to bottom, starting with "Tell a Story". A link on the homepage takes visitors to a "Key Topic Page" with a big idea to inspire, a call for support, a conversion opportunity, and information for people to learn more.

Improving the brand is all about focusing the experience on the site as much as it is about colors and logos.

6. Get Data & Stop Guessing

It’s hard to align what you track with what you’re trying to achieve. Steps to do this:

  1. Figure out what you need to track
  2. Capture metadata you’ll need (topic, tags, author, word count)
  3. Capture events and actions (shares, downloads, subscriptions, donations)
  4. Introduce new segments (“Visitors who…”)
  5. Conduct experiments to improve metrics (Hypothesize, test, adjust accordingly)

Tracking and Privacy?

For both “Personalization” and “Get Data”, I wonder about how privacy impacts these techniques. Will it become increasingly hard to ethically get reliable and accurate data?

They mentioned that tracking cookies are increasingly opt-in (as opposed to opt-out) and Google is working on a new system to entirely replace cookies. This makes it harder to see how users are behaving on other websites, but they haven’t seen this impact too much. It mostly makes it harder to accurately attribute actions to specific users over time or do “retargeting.”

In terms of privacy, they recommend following the principles of GDPR regardless of where and who your visitors are. Keep data secure and allow visitors to opt out.


Keynote Q&A with Nikole Hannah-Jones

I was super excited to see that Nikole Hannah-Jones was on the NTC agenda! I really wanted to focus on what she was saying, so I only took down a few key nuggets.

Self care: You aren’t any good to the struggle if you’re not there. You shouldn’t be self indulgent, but you must care for yourself.

Marginalized folks speaking up in the face of injustice: That is a burden unfairly placed on people of color and with other marginalized identities (intersectionality!). It is a double standard because unless someone speaks up, silence is often interpreted as acquiescence. It is therefore critical for folks with privilege to speak up in unjust situations so this burden is not only placed on marginalized communities.

Telling stories about someone without power: Be clear about how to get informed consent. People not in the public eye are more likely to be open and honest but may not understand the impact of being featured in a magazine or on a website. Be extremely explicit about how stories will be used. It doesn’t matter if you think the story will help the greater good if you harm the individual by telling their story. If you are telling someone’s story to benefit your nonprofit, be honest that the story benefits you personally and your organization, not just some high-minded cause. Would you read this story to the person you wrote it about?

Balancing expectations of urgency (a tenet of white supremacy culture) and taking care with storytelling: Don’t publish something you are not comfortable with. Only you can control your own integrity.


Not NTC: White Nonprofit Consultants Community of Practice

In a curse of bad timing, the first meeting of a group for white nonprofit consultants working to understand racism and antiracism run by Ampersand Community overlapped with the first afternoon session of NTC Day 2.

I am extremely excited about this group, where we will be thinking about what it means to be white nonprofit consultants and how we can try to develop antiracist practices.

One of the core axioms of the group is confidentiality, but I can at least share some of the biggest questions on my mind. It should go without saying that I don’t have answers to these questions, and may never fully answer them.

  1. How do I reinforce white supremacy culture with my business? What does it mean to work with nonprofits as a for-profit consultant given the harm caused by capitalism and the nonprofit industrial complex?
  2. When should I “stay in my lane” in my job vs. challenge my own clients?
  3. How does the way I network and refer business reinforce inequitable systems?
  4. What does it mean to work with and serve people and communities as a white consultant? Have I caused harm to my non-white clients, and how can I avoid repeating those mistakes?
  5. How can I use my business to divest power from those who inequitably wield it and build power in disadvantaged communities?

Community Conversation: WordPress

We had another 30 minute lightning conversation about WordPress to end the day. This time we talked about SEO, staging sites, site speed, and GDPR/privacy compliance. It was a lot to fit in but we were all able to share some resources before our 30 minutes was up and we got sucked back up into the Zoom breakout room portal.


Tomorrow is the third and final day of NTC. I’ll see you then!

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