Posts By: Josh Tong

About Josh Tong

Josh Tong is a content strategist in Washington, DC. He helps colleagues create powerful content through research, strategy, and implementation.

Here are his most recent posts:

Why to create a content model before redesigning your nonprofit’s website

Posted on May 7, 2017 by - Theory and practice, Tools and resources

High-level content model for IREX's main website

Recently, my team at IREX worked with colleagues to create a content strategy and redesign our website. During the redesign, one of the most important steps was drafting a content model.

The content model that you see above helped us save countless hours during and after the redesign. Months later, we’re using it to improve results for the organization and our users.

Content models aren’t as intuitive or widely understood as sitemaps, wireframes, or design comps. But I’d argue that they’re even more important for helping organizations build the right thing. I’d like to share a bit about our process to encourage other nonprofits to embrace content modeling, too. Read more . . .

How guiding principles can improve a content strategy

Posted on January 16, 2017 by - Theory and practice, Tools and resources

A presentation slide that says Putting users at the heart of everything we do

As a content strategist, I often ask two questions: “What are we trying to achieve?” and “Who are the users?” The answers serve as a foundation for almost everything that comes next—from conducting research to designing and implementing a strategy.

But I’ve found that a third question is equally valuable: “Can we build and maintain our solutions in an efficient and effective way?”

To address this question out in the open, I’ve started developing guiding principles as part of my content strategy process. At IREX, we’ve built our guiding principles into our digital content strategy. As a result, it’s easier to let our principles guide us each time we discuss objectives and users. Read more . . .

Create a digital service manual with this template

Posted on November 22, 2016 by - Tools and resources

Digital service manual on a laptop screen

Earlier this year, I wrote about how we are creating and implementing a digital content strategy at IREX, an international NGO with offices in 20 countries and participants in more than 100.

Collaboration is an essential ingredient in any content strategy. But because IREX’s staff members are distributed across five continents, it’s all the more important for us to coordinate our work in efficient and effective ways.

To help solve this challenge, we created a digital service manual that outlines roles, processes, guidelines, a digital roadmap, and more. In this post, I’ll briefly describe the types of content that we included in our manual and the steps we took to develop it. I’ll also share a template for content strategists and digital directors to use when drafting their own digital service manuals. Read more . . .

Redesigning irex.org: An interview

Posted on October 3, 2016 by - Theory and practice

Home page of the IREX website in July 2016
 

In July 2016, my team launched a redesigned website for IREX, the international NGO where we work. David Hobbs Consulting contacted me to discuss our process.

The following interview originally appeared on DavidHobbsConsulting.com. During our conversation, David and I discussed my team’s decisions for the redesign, including our approach to user research, stakeholder alignment, content migration, and content strategy. Read more . . .

5 reasons why international development needs content strategy

Posted on October 3, 2016 by - Theory and practice

Evaluating digital properties

International development organizations are full of smart, pragmatic people. But just as the rise of digital has disrupted public, private, and nonprofit organizations in other sectors, digital poses fundamental challenges to the international development community.

In the rush to implement projects and demonstrate progress, international development organizations have created a confusing ecosystem of websites, logos, microsites, apps, campaigns, social media channels, publications, e-mail lists, and knowledge portals, often in response to donor organizations’ requests.

When the funding runs out or interest shifts, it often seems easier and less expensive just to abandon the old assets and commission new ones. This vicious cycle generates financial costs, security risks, privacy risks, and legal risks while undermining the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Fortunately, we do not need to invent a solution to these problems. Organizations in other sectors have experienced similar growing pains as they’ve become more digitally mature. It’s time for the international development community to take the next step as well by embracing content strategy. Read more . . .

Creating a content strategy at a nonprofit

Posted on June 2, 2016 by - Theory and practice, Tools and resources

Digital services so good that people prefer to use them

In the fall, I joined an international development NGO in DC to lead digital strategy. We’re a midsized NGO, with offices in twenty countries. Before the organization created my position, the communications team had only two full-time employees and an intern.

Here are some of the activities that we’ve tackled during the past nine months:

  • Conducted lean research on a rolling basis
  • Adopted a phased approach to renovating our website
  • Drafted a digital strategy, digital roadmap, and digital guidelines
  • Conducted training sessions and held brown-bag discussions
  • Obtained approval to develop a digital governance framework

If we can do it, there’s a good chance that your nonprofit can, too. I’d like to share some of the steps that we’ve taken so far—and some of the resources that we’ve consulted—to better achieve our mission. Read more . . .

Getting started with remote moderated usability testing

Posted on January 1, 2016 by - Theory and practice, Tools and resources

Remote moderated usability testing

Several people have asked how I conduct remote moderated usability testing for international nonprofits. I’d like to share my approach.

Here’s the three-sentence version:

I use Skype to share screens with users who work in developing countries. I ask users to complete a set of tasks, and I observe which steps give them trouble. We talk to each other while sharing screens so they can ask questions and give feedback in real time.

In this post, I’ll briefly describe the main aspects of remote moderated usability testing. I’ll suggest when to use this research method and which software to consider. I’ll also share my process for conducting the research and a few resources for further information. Read more . . .

How nonprofits can measure what matters in Google Analytics

Posted on July 18, 2015 by - Theory and practice, Tools and resources

Conversion funnel in Google Analytics

It seems that many nonprofits install Google Analytics but don’t know what to do with it. Fortunately, there are many things that nonprofits can do to make Google Analytics much more useful. In this post, I’ll describe how to get started with five features:

  1. Event tracking
  2. Campaigns (with Google URL Builder)
  3. Goals (with conversion funnels)
  4. E-commerce tracking
  5. Custom dashboards

I’ll also share some ways that I use Google Analytics at an international NGO, and I’ll walk you through the process of identifying the metrics that matter most to your organization. Read more . . .

Why many nonprofits need a new membership model, and how they could build one

Posted on July 13, 2015 by - Reviews, Theory and practice

A new report describes how public media could supplement its old fundraising model with a new model of membership.  The report should be required reading for all nonprofits.

It’s no secret that many US nonprofits have struggled to recover after the recession. As old funding models decline, nonprofits are anxiously searching for new models that might lead to more financial stability.

How can nonprofits continue to fund their important work without compromising their mission or alienating their supporters?

A report published in the Nieman Lab describes how public media could supplement its old fundraising model with a new model of membership. The report should be required reading for all nonprofits and digital strategists. Read more . . .

Let’s create a list of open-source tools for ICT4D

Posted on June 23, 2015 by - Tools and resources

ICT4D

Mobile devices, cloud computing, real-time reporting, and emerging technologies all have the potential to help reduce poverty and inequality around the world. The international development community refers to this as ICT4D, information and communication technologies for development.

Compiling a list of open-source solutions could help NGOs and civil-society organizations to discover free platforms and tools, extend existing solutions, and avoid duplicating each other’s work. It could also help organizations avoid getting locked into long-term relationships with individual vendors.

Let’s create a list together. Read more . . .

Photo by John O’Bryan/USAID, CC BY-ND 2.0