Digital round-up – March 2019

Highlights this month: innovation, charities doing great at digital, responsible tech, #GBSpringClean, The Samaritans new website, representation in images and comms. 

Don’t let Brexit misery drag you down. Get outside for a nice walk in the sunshine, have an ice cream, then settle back to catch up on this month’s good reads and great content. 

model of 1950s seaside. woman sits reading a book while two boys queue for ice cream

How to use: Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox.

Content

screenshot from Wildlife Trusts' video of animated Wind in the Willows

Comms

Charity Comms' Innovation report

Digital – strategy, design, culture

Samaritans - screenshot of new homepage

The web at 30

The world wide web was 30 this month. I looked at how the charity web has changed through the evolution of the British Red Cross website

Fundraising

People and organisations

One of the 10 tips - don't ignore succession planning and empowering teams

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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Did you miss February’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

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Charity web at 30

The World Wide Web is 30 today (11 March 2019). Five years ago I used the Wayback Machine to look at trends in charity website design, using British Red Cross as an example. Here is the post, now updated with lessons from 2019.

Is your charity website keeping up with the latest developments in design and functionality?

Starting out – 1998

British Red Cross website 1998

The British Red Cross homepage in 1998 shows that the web standard of logo in top-left was there from the start. The site was very basic, probably hand-coded in html and uploaded via FTP.

  • Brochure-ware content – dense homepage to be read like a book.
  • Email to make a donation.
  • ‘Click here’ links.
  • No images.
  • No search.
  • Approx 10 pages. Only one-level down.
  • Sponsored by Vauxhall.

Increased functionality – 2006

British Red Cross 2006

Fast-forward eight years and the 2006 homepage leads with an appeal. Fundraising and raising awareness is now most important. There is greater awareness of design. More thought about actions and audience.

  • Published using CMS.
  • Images but no coherent design.
  • Site-wide (top) and left-hand navigation.
  • Fundraising prominent – 6/12 ‘Quick Links’ are fundraising. Donate now tab.
  • Search button.
  • Functionality – ‘In my area’.
  • Accessible links.
  • No social media (Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter in 2006).

Integrated digital comms – 2014

British Red Cross website 2014

Another eight years and now the 2014 website still leads with an appeal using a single emotive image. The site is sophisticated offering many opportunities for interaction, transaction, discussion and commerce but also has a presence across many other digital platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blog, Apps, games etc). It feels like digital is now being taken more seriously.

  • Multiple channels (links to six network channels at the bottom of the page).
  • Optimised for mobile / tablet.
  • Many opportunities for interaction.
  • Greater use of video, audio, photos, games to tell a story.
  • Donation button and quick PayPal option on homepage.
  • CMS powered, integration with CRM and other databases.
  • Evolution of ‘in your area’ functionality.
  • Accessibility buttons.

Website in 2019

Red Cross homepage in 2019. 10s full-screen video

Now the 2019 homepage is all about clarity and impact. Previously the homepage would have had to work hard at promoting everything as most people would go to the homepage first. Now sites are so well indexed with people going direct to the pages they are looking for, so the homepage can be devoted to telling a story or running a campaign. The homepage can appeal to hearts and minds rather than acting as a directory.

The currently site uses a full-screen video for the current appeal. It shows 10 seconds of different views from Yemen to tell a story to drive donations.

Below the appeal, the page is segmented into sections with different types of links (UK appeals, get help in a crisis, support, first aid, how we help, shop). These use colour and photos to make it easy to use. This architecture is replicated in the top-level navigation which is now reduced to five options.

  • Images are more powerful, instantly telling a story. Video is centre-stage.
  • Simplified navigation (no more What we do, Where we work etc).
  • Language is shorter and has more impact. Links are 1-3 words. Appeal text is ‘Help give life-saving aid to families in desperate need’. In contrast with ‘Help us continue giving thousands of people vital aid in this desperate situation. Please give what you can today’ from 2014.
  • Donate button on top right-hand side.

Web design in 2019

I have been training people on writing for the web since 2003 – over half of the web’s life – and working on websites since 1996. Many of the old rules still apply (short sentences, headings, meaningful link text etc). But the way we consume information and content online in 2019 means that we now need to be even tighter with our words. Attention spans are shorter and screens are smaller. The language we use needs to be immediate, strong and clear. There is no room for wasteful words on the homepage or in navigation links.

Photographs and images now need to have more impact. They should use strong colours and instantly tell a story. Compare the images used in 2006 / 2014 with the images used now. They use close-ups and are not afraid of sharing an intimate moment, pain or emotion. They are beautiful and difficult to look at.

Homepages generally use a hero image (or in some cases video) which is shown at full-screen. This image has to work very hard to communicate everything you want in that key real estate location. Do you have images that are strong enough to do that? Take a look at the homepages of Crisis, NCT, Brathay Trust, and Bloodwise for examples. (See also Review and improve your use of images.)

Your digital strategy

You don’t need to be the size of British Red Cross to need a clear plan for how your website and wider digital platforms support the goals of your organisation. Technologies and design standards are changing all the time. Just today, Samaritans launched its new website which has a cool features such as a dynamic homepage which changes depending on the time of day.

A digital strategy can help you to persuade trustees to invest in new technology or staff. You may use it to plan your increasing use of social media, create digital services and have a reference for how you’ll deal with a crisis. Or it may help you plan the next 6-12 months, ensuring you are using your resources in the right way and keeping up with your peers.

Take a look at the Charity Digital Code of Practice which was launched at the end of 2018. It aims to help charities increase their impact, develop skills and improve digital sustainability. Zoe Amar recently shared data from the self-assessment tool to show where charities are at with Code.

Whatever the priorities for your website, it is worth investing your time in producing a digital strategy to support its future evolution.

Useful links

If you need in-person help, there are lots of Digital Strategy courses and freelancers / consultants who can support you.

More on the web at 30

Read more about the web at 30:

Look at other examples of how design has evolved via the web design museum.

Google Doodle for the web at 30

Digital round-up – November 2018

Highlights this month: #YouMadeItHappen, #GivingTuesday, Christmas campaigns, Charity Digital Code launched.

November is always a rich time for content with Giving Tuesday and Christmas appeals. This month it was also the first ever #YouMadeItHappen day. It was great to see so many large and small charities joining in by thanking their supporters and sharing detail of the impact they had made.

children's self portraits hanging in a classroom

How to use this round-up: Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Or, even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox.

Content

Christmas campaigns:

Cute dog. A dog is for life not just for Christmas.

Need more Christmas? See UK Fundraising’s collection of Christmas ads and my top 5 charity digital advent calendars.

Giving Tuesday:

Also this month:

screenshot of video shared by Age UK of older lady standing next to runners in a race. She holds out her arm to get high fives from friendly runners.

Did you join in with #YouMadeItHappen day? The hashtag reached 5.4m people. Here are some highlights of YMIH 2018.

Twitter takeover of the month: Scope for International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Comms

Mind tweet showing video of Erther McVey arguing for Universal Credit in the House of Commons.

Don’t forget to book your ticket for the Social Media Exchange in February.

Digital – strategy, design, culture

'Join the conversation about the #CharityDigitalCode'

Following the consultation period, the Charity Digital Code has now officially launched. Do have a look if you haven’t already.

The Small Charities Coalition challenged Zoe Amar to explain it in three post-it notes. And in Charity Digital News she shares 7 things you can do in 30 minutes a day.

The Code advocates digital skills across staff and the board. This helpful infographic produced by Zoe Amar, Ellie Hale, Sally Dyson and Janet Thorne asks Do you need a digital trustee?

Also this month:

Fundraising

JustTextGiving to close in March next year. Are you ready? (See also Figure for text donation plummets by £86m and donr announces text giving service.)

Movember's contactless fundraising badges

People and organisations

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

——

Did you miss October’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

Digital round-up – June

June passed by in a blur of great weather, football fever and lots of great charity reads. Get an ice cream / cool drink and settle back to hook some juicy digital catches!

metal fish in a paddling pool, ready to be hooked for fun. Summer picture.

Warning – this is another bumper crop. Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox. Enjoy!

Content

Dogs Trust - cute animation. Starts with a dog shuffling across the screen looking cheeky

Map with hundreds of red dots, each clickable to read the supporter's comment

5s video showing a small wave washing away a person (in lego) talking a photo of the weather.

Screenshot of doggy Twitter Moment

Digital

In case you missed it Brathay Trust: a lesson in crisis comms.

Brathay's instagram - image of a young man in a bright yellow t-shirt completing the run

Teams and ways of working

Mind your language

Suicide has been in the news a lot recently. Here are some guides to writing about it responsibly.

Events

Fundraising

Scope subscription box Mindful Monsters for parents and chidren

More

And finally….

1970's BBC presenter next to a BBC micro computer.

 

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

——

Did you miss May’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

 

 

 

Digital round-up – April

Highlights from the charity digital web in April.

Includes a bumper crop of blog posts from CharityComms, Lightful and others, plus a charity rebrands, Marathon comms and some juicy hashtag content.

Close up of pots of rusty nails, green scissors and yellow string

Building digital success

**Don’t forget that if you have content on Storify, you have until 16 May to remove it before the site closes. There are lots of alternatives such as Wakelet. Which ones have you tried?**

Getting the measurements right

Infographic from ParkRun's tweet showing average finish times

Building excellent teams

Rebrands / new websites / building websites

Charity content

We all know about the big awareness days but what about the small obscure ones? Even International Carrot Day can be celebrated on a slow news day. Check out some great examples in this Twitter Moment.

There was some nice St George’s Day content around including this video from National Trust and Macmillan dusted off their #EdBallsDay tweet. Plus some great April Fool’s Day campaigns.

What does your social media strategy say about whether you should join in with an unexpected trending conversation or meme? What criteria does it have to satisfy or do you use instinct to make a decision? Some organisations I speak to just don’t join in, others will wait until their peers are joining in. Trending topics can give engagement a real boost. Remember how we all joined in with the 280 characters change on Twitter? This week some charities joined in with #MyHandleExplained. This example from WWF (“Wildlife not wrestling”) really stood out. This one from @MoreThanADodo was good too.

#MyHandleExplained tweet from WWF showing fighting polar bears

It can be hard to get humour right. This post by Jon Ware explores why and what we can do about it – Why the Absolute Unit was absolutely inspired digital comms.

London Marathon

Made to Move - wheelchair athlete whizzes past the Lucozade station on the Marathon

Full-on London Marathon fever lasts for about a week from the expo to when the aches and pain fade after the event. Use your content well to embrace this if you have runners or supporters involved.

Did you see the London Marathon cheer-off banter on Twitter and mascot banter between Breast Cancer Now, Macmillan Cancer, Breast Cancer Care, Teenage Cancer Trust, CLIC Sargent and others?

Jack Munroe used Twitter to connect fundraisers with supporters ahead of the big day.

Marathon day itself is a whirlwind on social media. On the Monday following the event, lots of charities shared stories about the impact all the fundraising would have as a way of thanking their runners for the pain and giving them a final push to pass on to sponsors. Many will be reliving the day through photographs and messages. Take a look at some examples in this Moment. Many charities also make Moments of their tweets from the day to curate and document it for prosperity and future use. These are also a great way to publicly celebrate (and thank) the effort of the runners and supporters. Take a look at examples from Scope and Macmillan.

UK Fundraising also shared a round-up of some of the highlights.

Brathay Trust did an excellent job with their crisis comms following the death of supporter Matt Campbell. As the news broke, they quickly released a statement. They added his story to their homepage, shared stories about their work on social to connect with their new audience and produced graphics to help promote #MilesForMatt. As the money came in, they released further statements at £100k and £300k sharing their reaction to the response and what the money means to them as a small charity.

As people are still running their 3.7 miles for Matt, the total is still going up. Currently it stands at a staggering £330k + GiftAid. For a small charity, who have never had so many tweets, they have done a brilliant job of connecting with the running community. Building long-term relationships with these supporters will be harder but many more people have now heard of Brathay and their work than before.

Brathay Trust - statement via Twitter reflecting on the week following Matt's death

NB It is worth having a look at the work Samaritans did following the death of Claire Squires’ in the London Marathon 2012 which raised over £1m. Here’s more about the Claire Squires Fund.

Other stuff

What else did you read or see this month? Do share in the comments.

How can I help you?

Why not get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy? I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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Did you miss March’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

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280 characters on Twitter

In case you missed it, Twitter started to roll-out its 280 character limit to all users today. Personally I think it is a sad day and mourn the opportunity that everyone had to get a message across clearly and concisely in 140. Of course there is no reason why you now have to use the full 280. Readers still have short attention spans so being clear and concise still wins in my book.

Many took to the platform, responding quickly and creatively to mark the change by spreading important messages using their first #280Character tweets. Here are some examples taken from my #280Characters Moment.

Samaritans Ireland reminded us what they do. Haven House Children’s Hospice shared their impact in 2016/17.

Samaritans Ireland

Mental Health Foundation shared stats about mental health (as well as an image asking for donations). Crisis simply repeated their pledge to end homelessness.

Mental Health Foundation

Crisis - 'end homelessness'

Scotland Fire and Rescue used it as a chance to share some important numbers.

Scot Fire and Rescue

Others like Breast Cancer Care, the Met Office and Rethink Mental Illness used just emojis. (See also this from the Cookie Monster!)

BCC use emojis to make a big pink ribbon

Some used the extra space to say thank you. Oxfam used a video and RNLI a simple thanks.

Oxfam's thank you video

Book Trust started a conversation about favourite characters (nice tie-in!) and got lots of replies.

Books Trust

Some just went mad with the extra space! See GiveBlood NHS, Age UK Lambeth and the Science Museum. Plus Macmillan’s cake tweet and London Ambulance’s nee-naws (currently clocking up 15,000 likes and a nee-naw-off with other emergency service accounts!)

GiveBlood NHS, Science Museum and Age UK Lambeth repeat their messages over and over!

Well done to all who reacted so quickly in such brilliant ways!

Does your comms / social media strategy allow you the space to be reactive and creative?

See the full collection including tweets from museums and heritage organisations in my #280Characters Moment.

See also How 280 twitter characters could benefit comms people by Kerry-Lynne Pyke of Macmillan Cancer on comms2point0  with notes about how the increase should benefit charities who tweet in English and Welsh.

Did you spot any other good examples? Do you have a story to tell about your reactive comms? Please share in the comments.

How to make the new Twitter profile work for your charity

The new Twitter layout brings new opportunities for using images. But the size and shape of images required, especially for the header, is tricky to get right. Should you stretch your logo (er, no), use a generic photo library background or search for a single picture which tells your story? There are still lots of organisations and people who haven’t made the switch yet, let’s look at some who have.

Using the profile for an appeal or campaign

This example from @OxfamGB uses one very powerful image (of a person looking directly at us) alongside a red banner about the appeal and JustText Giving details underneath. As Twitter is not traditionally used for fundraising (see previous post on donating in 140 characters), the header presents a brilliant opportunity. Oxfam could reinforce the header by pinning a tweet about the appeal so it appears at the top of the page. This would drive more traffic as nothing in the profile space is clickable.

Oxfam GB: powerful image of a face to support their South Sudan appeal

Child’s i Foundation are using their profile to promote their latest fundraising campaign. The pinned tweet works well here especially as it uses a different but similar picture.

Child's i Foundation - profile promotes their fundraising campaign. Strong picture.

Alzheimer’s Society are using their header to promote their latest campaign, Don’t bottle it up. They have included their #hashtag and link.

Alzheimer's Society: Don't bottle it up campaign text and image

Other examples organisations using the header for fundraising or to give information:

One strong image

It can be difficult to find one strong image, especially one which tells a story, is easy for everyone to understand and works in the letterbox shape (1500 x 500 pixels).

Mencap use one strong positive image of a man and boy, both smiling. This complements their friendly bio (‘Hi, we are Mencap. Everything we do is about valuing & supporting people with a learning disability, their family and carers’).

Mencap: strong image of boy and man smiling

What does your picture say about you? A photo of a single person works well as a fundraising persuasion tool but this is social media so maybe your image should be a reflection of your inclusion? There are a few examples of this such as this one from Parkinson’s UK and The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

Parkinson's UK: big happy group wearing branded t-shirts

Play to your strengths. What images do you have which you know work well? For example Guide Dogs use puppies.

Guide Dogs: three black labrador puppies

Other examples of one strong image:

But what if you don’t have a stock of strong pictures or your cause doesn’t lend itself to a photo? A graphic can work. Refuge here uses a repeated image from their logo. Lighthouse, a suicide prevention charity in Belfast use a google map showing their location. Headway East London use a painting.

Refuge : tiled graphic

Your strong image doesn’t have to be serious, it can be cheeky like Beating Bowel Cancer‘s.

Beating Bowel Cancer: group posing with plastic bottoms

Finally, museums, galleries and heritage organisations have an amazing opportunity to showcase their collections as this example from the Imperial War Museum shows.

IWM - using a painting of WW1

If you are using one strong picture, think about how often you will change it and where else it appears. Will people get tired of it after a while? How many other places it is appearing? It may be useful to use one image across your social media channels and change them to something else all at the same time. Or have one strong image per channel and use this permanently.

Checklist

  • Check that your header image works well at 1500×500 pixels. Does it tell a story? Is it cropped in the right way and uncluttered?
  • Make sure that the image and / or text is not blurry or pixelated. Start with a big picture and reduce. You can’t make small pictures bigger – you’ll lose definition.
  • Check that your logo / profile photo doesn’t obscure anything important in the header. (For example in the Guide Dogs example above, the logo slightly obscures a puppy’s nose.)
  • Is your logo / avatar clear at 400 x 400? Does it still work when reduced to tweet size?
  • Check how your image appears using different browsers / devices etc. You don’t want to do a Good Morning Britain. Images can look subtly different but enough to stop them making sense / working as well. For example, look at Samaritans’ profile – in the web version, the woman’s eyes are oddly cropped out but in a list of profiles, they appear!

Samaritan's - image cropped too close

List view - Samaritans picture is bigger revealing the woman's face

Useful links

Share your favourite examples

What examples have you come across which have inspired you (in a good or bad way?) What have you learnt about using the new-look Twitter? Please share your comments here.

Can I help you?

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you with social media. I am a freelance web editor and trainer and can help give your digital communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.