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 . . .
Posted on November 22, 2016 by Josh Tong - Tools and resources
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 . . .
Posted on October 3, 2016 by Josh Tong - Theory and practice
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 . . .
Posted on October 3, 2016 by Josh Tong - Theory and practice
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 . . .
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 . . .
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:
- Event tracking
- Campaigns (with Google URL Builder)
- Goals (with conversion funnels)
- E-commerce tracking
- 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 . . .
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 . . .
In the right situations, agile and lean approaches can make content strategy and governance projects more effective.
In this post, I’d like to bring together some ideas from Corey Vilhauer on “small content strategy,” Melissa Breker and Kathy Wagner on content governance and workflow, Lisa Welchman on digital governance, and Dimagi on organizational readiness for technology systems.
I’ll also share some ideas from my own work, including a four-step process that uses agile and lean principles to improve governance and workflow.
Interested? Read more . . .
Posted on February 24, 2015 by Josh Tong - Theory and practice
I’ve been thinking about a question that Sara Wachter-Boettcher recently posed:
Our web-team processes may be more collaborative and iterative than ever—we may be sketching, testing, adapting, and prototyping. But how often are the people who’ll live out our strategies and manage content for the long term . . . included in that process?
She offers great advice about how hands-on workshops can be much more effective than traditional training sessions. I agree that it is far better to build a solution with, not for, the people who need to own it. And as Wachter-Boettcher points out, there are about a million opportunities throughout a project to include other teams in your team’s process.
I believe that one of the most important opportunities occurs at the very outset of a project, before the teams have even agreed to work together.
This is the perfect time to stop and ask each other, “What style of collaboration is right for this project? How can we work better across teams, not just within them?” Read more . . .
Posted on January 12, 2015 by Josh Tong - Tools and resources
I’d like to share a tool that I recently put together to address a common content problem.
This tool is not a substitute for a comprehensive content strategy. However, if your organization has not yet decided to create a content strategy, this tool could help nudge teams in that direction while solving some important content issues. Read more . . .