Advent Calendars for Web Professionals

I love this time of year when my favorite websites post advent calendars for people who work on the web. It’s like Christmas comes early with all the tips and resources!

If you missed it earlier this week, .netMagazine published eight advent calendars for web designers and developers, leading off with the well-known 24ways site and including UXMas, a new advent calendar for user experience professionals.

Here’s a few more web-focused advent calendars you might enjoy:

Online Marketing Advent Calendar

The Online Marketing Advent Calendar shares a digital marketing tip each day, focusing on SEO and content strategy.

Online Marketing Advent

Systems Administration Advent Calendar

With tips and resources written by fellow sysadmins, the Systems Administration Advent Calendar has been publishing their calendar since 2008.

Sys Admin Advent Calendar

It’s a Shape Christmas

For illustrators, the It’s a Shape Christmas interactive advent calendar features 25 downloadable shapes from illustrators around the world.

Its a Shape Advent Calendar

MDN Calendar

The Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) Calendar offers a puzzle-interface for demos and to learn about new resources.

Mozilla Developer Network Advent Calendar

WebKrauts Advent Calendar 2012

Though written in German, it’s easy to use Google Translate on the WebKrauts Advent Calendar 2012 which features web topics including CSS, wireframes, SASS, tools, and mobile web.

WebKrauts Advent Calendar

Ancient Wisdom and New Media Content Strategy

Rebecca CarterRebecca Carter of Quicken Loans was the guest speaker at Refresh Detroit’s September meeting.

Utilizing some great examples from her work experience and a dash of ancient Chinese wisdom, Rebecca delivered useful information that we can use in our organization’s content strategy.

Overview
She started with a general overview of content strategy. Paraphrasing Kristina Halvorson she described it as “planning for content creation, delivery and governance.” She reviewed the wide variety of tasks and tools that the field of Content Strategy encompasses including:

  • Marketing
  • Writing
  • Content analysis
  • Metadata
  • Taxonomy
  • SEO
  • Editorial strategies
  • Developing new forms of content
  • Information architecture
  • User experience
  • and much more.

A Content Strategist “knows intuitively that everything is content”, says Rebecca.

Why do Content Strategy?
Rebecca had to convince some at her company why it was important to have a Content Strategy department. “So we can get smarter about everything,” she said. Reasons for Content Strategy also include:

  • So content can be repurposed
  • Business can grow strategically
  • To maximize the user experience and comprehension.

Wisdom
Rebecca wanted to give the Refresh Detroit audience some key points that they take action on in their own organizations. She used bits of wisdom from the ancient text The Art of War by Sun Tzu as an interesting way to present her points.

The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing.

Know who you are talking to. Create persona-driven messages. You can use in-house data, market surveys and even your sales force to find out whom you’re developing your content for. Quicken Loans uses personas created by an independent market research company. They find them incredibly useful in crafting their content for their audience.

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but a few calculations beforehand.

Plan and determine your customer lifecycle. Discover the steps your client takes from initial awareness to becoming and advocate for your brand. Rebecca recommends lining up the different steps of your customer lifecycle with the personas you’ve developed. This helps you get “great customized targeted messages and … your conversions can go up.”

If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame.

Provide your writers with the tools they need. Develop style guides, templates, samples, brand guidelines, checklists to help your team with consistent implementation.

Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

“Every time you create content you have to think about all the different ways it can be reused”, explained Rebecca. Can it be used in a press release? Used for social media? Can it be shared with a content partner? Plan to reuse and share your content.

He who know when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.

“Identify your key performance indicators and start making testing plans for that.” Its important to find ways to communicate testing results to you team so they know where you need to concentrate you efforts.

Some sites Rebecca recommends following are:
Alistapart.com
Contentini.com
blog.braintraffic.com
Shellybowen.com
Conversationagent.com
Eatmedia.net/blog
Futurelab.net/blogs/marketing-strategy-innovation

Rebecca concluded her talk with a great Q&A session where she shared some of the issues that Quicken Loans has run into with their content strategy and how they’ve worked to improve them.

Below are the slides from Rebecca’s presentation.

Tracking outgoing clicks with Google Analytics

I was recently selected to be a staff blogger at .eduGuru, a higher education web marketing blog. They had a contest where people submitted guest posts and opened it up to the community to vote.

Building on my guest post, Tracking Flash Interaction with Google Analytics, I posted my first real post, Tracking outgoing clicks with Google Analytics. Its a quick and dirty way to track what links people are clicking on when leaving your site. This insight is key if your bounce rate is high or your page views/visitor are low and you want to figure out where your loosing visitors.