In this progression, I will talk about how we moved from old to new technologies, hard to easy systems, and the lessons learned with implementing those technologies. Let me know if you would like to learn more about how we learned as we went and how to convince others about upgrading the technology.
This was our old site, static HTML, very difficult to use, and we had to use Dreamweaver to update the page. In addition, this didn’t allow us to have multi-user logins to manage the website. There was one password for the webserver to update the page. In addition, we merged both content and design. So what could we do to make this easier for anyone to update the website and make it look like we know what we are doing?
In order to upgrade the old website, first we have to take a look at free content management systems. Most webhosting accounts provide services that are included in the package. For example, content management systems require PHP and mySQL to operate them. There are various types out there, ranging from easy to use to complex—and each has a different learning curve. For the sake of simplicity, we went with WordPress. Most of you may know that it’s a blogging service, but you can download the system and install.
What the chapter went with is WordPress to take advantage of all the features a content management system provides for websites. For example, we can use the social media sharing buttons, SEO, and various plugins to make it easier to operate the website.
A great feature WordPress offers is to make our website easier and accessible for mobile devices. This way, we could reuse the information and format for the specific device. This is a plug in that we use to render it with smaller devices. This may be useful if you plan a mini workshop, people might not bring laptops but something like a tablet or smart phone to gather information.
Another aspect of upgrading our community was to use a wiki to maintain our internal communications and document repository and collaboration.
One of the difficult issues we had with communication was using MailMan as a system for emailing announcements. Since we did not use the tool for email discussion, we changed to a newer system.
One of the greatest advantages your community has is direct email. Part of the issue is, how can you track where emails are going, click-rate, and even if an email is flagged or rejected? These systems can look into how a user views email and make them customizable—such as creating customized emails based on details. For example, would you click on an email that has your name, such as, “Dear Roger”? Think of it as using mail-merge in Microsoft Word, only for email.
The chapter migrated to MailChimp, mostly because it was free, but it also had useful tools to track where our information was going to. The analytics itself helped us find out who was reading the email, clicking on links, and give the chapter insight on how to best send email campaigns.
Let’s recap on the technologies. There are various web hosting companies out there. Some are free, some may charge a monthly fee. You want to have one that is affordable or even have a local company or business sponsor for you. You want to find a solution that works best for you at an affordable rate with the services that you want. Such as finding a web hosting company that provides server space, PHP, mySQL database, email, domain service, etc. Then we go back to mailing list systems, whether you keep the old one or need a new one with newer features for tracking. In addition, wikis are great to house information, even if that’s too complex—a simple password protected folder accessible via FTP should work. Something like DropBox, Box, or Google Drive help share community documents easily. Lastly, using an effective communication system, whether that is using Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, Citrix Desktop, anything that works best.
The hardest part is selling this to the team. Whether that is convincing the board or even inviting me for a quick talk or this PowerPoint presentation. There are some benefits and some costs involved. You might even recruit a tech savvy technical communicator from the college or someone willing to add experience to their resume. There may be some way to negotiate. In addition, any system change will be difficult for people to adapt to. At what cost will that affect the organization and what benefit will that bring. Will you bring your team to the latest technology? This also goes to say that if you want to make it simple—that’s perfectly fine as well. But to make it easier for content generators to be content generators, they don’t need to know HTML. It depends on what your community wants and what they get out of that matters.
Social Media Webinar - Part 1 - STC CAC
November 4, 2013
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Technical Writer, Albuquerque, NM
New Mexico Tech, 2010
New Mexico Kachina Chapter,
Loves technology, websites, and
From old to new
From hard to easy
How to convince others