Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Labor Media's

  • Modern, clean layout that is visually appealing.
  • Very well written, no typos.
  • Not overly cluttered.
  • Eye-catching, rotating gear at the top of the page that is interactive.
  • Creative use of union bug.
  • Prominent placement of social networking links.
  • High resolution graphics and text. No bumpy, rough text - very smooth.*
  • Very professional-looking site.*
    • The home page is too long. The reader shouldn't have to keep scrolling and scrolling to access content. While this is okay for secondary pages, the home page should not extend very much beyond the browser screen.*
    • Much of the information posted on the home page can be moved to secondary pages, and some graphics could be smaller. Many unions feel compelled to post everything on the home page. Don't.
    • The main categories across the top of the page - news, organize, headquarters, territories, members and MNPL - should be individual portals that focus on information designed for specific audiences. This makes it very easy for someone to find the content they're looking for quickly, with as few clicks as possible. Your visitors shouldn't have to work too hard to find what they need. 
    • There should be obvious and individual portals for members, contractors, future members, news, and an "about us" that encompasses leadership profiles, locations, member organizations, mission statement, etc.
    • Once a visitor digs a little deeper, there are several unfinished pages. Keep unfinished pages hidden!

    Some of you might find it ironic that my own site does not necessarily reflect my own advice - and you're absolutely right. This site is a work in progress, and a free blog site has limited capabilities. You know the saying - Do as I say, not as I do! - NLM

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    New Labor Media's Website of the Week!

    New Labor Media is adding a new weekly series that will highlight and critique the best - and worst - union websites. The intent is not to humiliate or embarrass any organization. This is a teaching tool that will help union leaders take a closer look at their own websites, and hopefully make needed changes if necessary. Each site will receive a star rating based on the following criteria:

    Why is a website important for a labor union?

    In this day and age, if you're not online, you don't exist to the people you want to communicate with. Like it or not, the vast majority of people in this country turn to the internet for practically everything. Examples:
    1. An 18 year old high school senior (and future apprentice of the year) graduated in the top 20% of his class, but he can't go to college because he's raising his brothers. The first thing he'll do to find information about his post-secondary options? He will search job postings online. The first postings he'll choose? The ones that have website links rather than just phone numbers, because Generation Y doesn't call, they text and email. Will he contact you?
    2. A reporter working on a story about an upcoming rally wants to get a few quotes from labor leaders to use. Her first step is to google the unions in the region to find contact information and perhaps usable information that is already online. Will your quote end up in the paper?
    3. A moderately conservative mom is surfing the internet after the kids go to bed, catching up on her favorite blogs. Not knowing much about unions except what she hears about on Fox News, she stumbles upon a labor blog article about a local union's apprenticeship program and reads it. It opens her mind enough that she sends it to a few friends who are looking for jobs. Will it be your article that makes an impact?
    4. A daughter brings home her new boyfriend to meet her parents, and his first impression upon them is a good one. He mentions that he's a journeyman with the local union. The father is suddenly skeptical and wants to find out more about this "boy" who is leering at his little girl. He goes online to look up the union to see if this guy is legit. Will he find your union's website filled with broken links and old updates, or one that's slick and easy to navigate? Will your union's website represent your member as well as he is representing you?
    5. 50% of the members of a local union are habitually late in paying their dues because they have to go out of their way to pay them at the union hall.  This puts a financial strain on the union and forces an already overworked secretary to spend half of her time chasing down dues. Can your members pay for their dues online through your website for more timely and efficient results?

    Your website is often the first impression you'll make on many people. Do you feel that it represents your union and its members well? Check back each week to learn some new ideas about how to make your website stand out.