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TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Conference Followup – Social Media Onliners

July 30th, 2008 by Erick Beck

These are a few miscellaneous tidbits that come from several of the conference sessions that didn’t quite fit into any of the previous write-ups. This will conclude the followups from the conference. Look forward to seeing any of you going to HighEdWeb in October!

Web pages shouldn’t “do all things for all people” – concentrate the topic on one particular subject and leave other topics for other pages.

People like personal connections, the feeling that someone has gone this way before. Think about using some sort of testimonial to create that connection — product reviews, “in their own words,” biographic summaries, etc.

Keep the personal connection fresh. This means if you create a blog, or news items, or calendar events, etc. you MUST devote the time to keeping them current. This means work, but stale content will not keep viewers coming back.

Using the 5-second rule, usability testing can be as easy has talking to 2-3 people per week. You will seldom get more information from a larger crowd than you will from a small one, all you’ll get is numeric confirmation of what the users say.

Be creative, but don’t get too cutesy or so creative that it causes problems for your viewers. If they get confused they will go elsewhere. The Brown University site was one that “wow”ed the advisory staff, for example, but is so overly complicated in its creativity that it is too hard to navigate.

Be aware of what people are saying about you on the various social media outlets. Even if you do not participate you should at least be aware of the reputation you are getting. This, in turn, means you must be aware of the avenues of communication to observe… this means more than Facebook and MySpace; local outlets such as Tx Ags, letters to the editor in The Eagle, personal blogs, and topical bulletin boards are all hotbeds of conversation.

As well as interaction, customers expect instant feedback. This explains the rapid adoption of AJAX. As an example, create web forms with javascript that can instantly show an error instead of waiting for the user to submit the page and get an error message.

Usability gives way to discoverability – the ability of the site to show visitors what they don’t know.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 Miscellaneous
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