When you come back from a conference, you're absolutely bloated with information--like a meniscus pour for your brain. Without a doubt, you're excited about all the brilliant ideas you heard. The problem is, once you're back in your office, the phone starts ringing; you've got to extinguish three fires, and you're required to attend meetings a, b, and c. Dissecting your conference meeting notes keeps getting pushed down . . . down . . . down until it's right up there with cleaning out your file cabinets.
This time, I'm actually revisiting my chicken scratch one day after edUi 2013--a conference for web professionals working in higher ed, museums, libraries, etc. My goal is to synthesize my thoughts and start musing about how said great ideas might be applied in my own world. To do that, I need to tease out what I deem to be some of the conference's big-picture take aways. Here they are in no particular order.
1. Goals, goals, goals: How can you possibly define the success of your web or social media project until you define what your trying to accomplish?
2. Simplify! Too many choices (with anything) creates confusion and indecision. Or, if you're like me, when given too many options, you just tune out and move on without making a choice at all. This mantra applies to web content too. Be concise! Best phrase ever "Less Joyce, more Hemingway."
3. Communicate! Keep key stakeholders in the loop and give them a sense of ownership over the vision and processes.
4. Invest in user testing before, during, and after. While it's not always possible to do all three, your organization would be seriously wasting time and energy if it didn't elicit and analyze user feedback at some point.
5. Who do you want to serve? This really goes back to number one, but why create content for an audience that's not critical to your mission? Most importantly, you can't be everything to everyone, so narrow it down and know the key behaviors of those desired users.
6. Could be a subset of number five, but too important to understate: It's not about you, it's about the user. We all know this, but it's tough to implement unless your key demographic is looking back at you in the mirror.
7. If you're not having fun with your social media content, nobody else is either!
8. Research. Build. Analyze. Repeat. Web, mobile, and social media efforts should not really have an end product but should constantly be elvoving based on your continued work to analyze data.
9. Speaking of data: USE IT . . . to tell stories about your content--what's working and what's not. One superb phrase I heard was "use data to neutralize" naysayers and minimize arbitrary decisions. It's difficult for most folks to argue with hard numbers. In addition to general tools like Google Analytics, I heard about a few others that might be useful, such as Clicktale.com and Heatdata.com.
10. In determining the heirarchy of content on your website, ask yourself this? If our website exploded and died tomorrow, what would people NOT be able to do? This work-backward strategy blew my mind, and I will definitely use this approach when it comes to proposed redesigns.
Of the sessions I attended, here are a few of the most focussed:
Social Media Lessons from the Private Sector by Dean Browell
Getting 'Em on Board: Guiding Staff Through Times of Change by Kim Vassiliadis
Using Data to Make User-Centric Decisions by Paul Koch
Writing Content That Works Everywhere (Including iPhones) by Rachel DeLauder
List of all speakers and sessions (most have posted slides!)