May 6, 2019
Check out the latest adaptation of the Open Y User Manual, new features including updates for those on 2.0 as well as newly added paragraph types to the distribution.
Your Digital Experience Performance
Reporting & analysis: an introduction.
Web data is great, but by itself provides little value — it’s static. Your organization will almost certainly be using Google Analytics to collect and measure web data. If it doesn’t, stop reading this article and implement it!Through reporting and analysis, you can animate your web data, gaining understanding and discovering actionable insights to optimize your website. The value of regular reporting and analysis can be realized in the discovery and identification of opportunities or changes in online activity that can have an impact on the organization.
For example, you might identify that a specific channel of traffic is converting much better than others. By focusing more attention on that channel, you could increase the number of conversions for an important goal, such as donations, or memberships. Or, for example, you might discover in traffic that might point to an increase in spam traffic. You could then apply filters to block that spam traffic and keep the web data as clean and relevant as possible.
Analysis of your web data helps you to have a realistic idea of how the digital experience is performing. It provides you with insights into how you can optimize it to serve the organization’s overall goals. Reporting and analysis also help you communicate how effectively your digital experience is contributing to overall business strategies and objectives.
Reporting and analysis should take place regularly, and as frequently as needed. Depending on the size of your digital experience, the volume of traffic it receives, and the overall marketing budget, regular reporting typically involves some combination of weekly/monthly, and quarterly/annually reporting. If regular reporting is new to your organization, then a review or ‘audit’ is a great starting place.
Websites can generate a ream of data and the average digital data dump can be overwhelming. So, where do you start with your reporting and analysis? A great place to start, and especially if regular reporting is new to you, is to ask these three questions of the digital experience:
- Is it growing?
- Is it converting?
- What are people doing on it?
Through the analysis of the web data, you’re going to be able to answer these questions and gather actionable insights that allow you to make data-backed decisions. The understanding and insight you learn can be almost unlimited.
Here are some common things you’ll learn about your digital experience:
- The number of people visiting your website for the first time. How many users are New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors?
- How people are coming to your digital experience — the channel, or source of the traffic. Is it through Google search, an email campaign, Facebook, or a referral from a partner website?
- What type of device they are using to engage with your content. Is it predominantly when they are on their mobile device?
- The content users are most interested in. Are users more keen on finding branch location hours?
- The areas, or geographic regions website visitors are located.
- How often users are completing actions you deem important — for example, this might be requesting a free guest pass.
- How the various marketing efforts (SEO, Facebook ads, email, etc) are doing at driving traffic to the site. You can also learn if that traffic is doing what you want it to do — for example, make a donation, or complete a membership application.
The learning and understanding you gain from reporting and analysis can be almost unlimited and it is directly tied to what is important to your organization. You should consider not only what is important to the marketing goals, but also sales, customer satisfaction, IT, operations, HR, etc. — after all, your efforts as applied to the digital experience are ultimately geared towards reaching the wider organizational goals.
To learn more about how we have been helping YMCA organizations like yours, and how we can help you with regular reporting and analysis please contact your ImageX account manager today.
Five Takeaways from the ImageX Brand Refresh
Many of you may have noticed the ImageX site looks a little different. Earlier this year, ImageX took on an internal project to update our own branding and website to ensure the experience with our brand and channels reflects the experience that our clients and employees have with our team.We set an ambitious timeline of three months (Jan 1 — April 1) to have all branding elements finalized and the website launched. We’re pleased that our team achieved this deadline while giving their all to our client projects at the same time, and we are extremely excited by our new visual identity!
The redesign process was not without its ups and downs and we’ve pulled together some of the key lessons we learned along the way.
1. Prepare to Prepare
Before you get going, it’s key to understand a number of different things. First, there should be a clear idea of why you are undertaking the project. What’s the catalyst for the change? And the desired outcome? Without this rationale clearly identified, it can be easy to get lost along the way. Do you even need to redesign at this stage? Would a lighter refresh be enough, looking at improved imagery and wording but keeping the existing colors and themes?Once you know why you’re undertaking the project, it’s important to have a clear definition of the stakeholders. Who will be involved overall? Who will be the go-to person internally to keep the project moving? What is the decision-making hierarchy? Ensure you map out the project and have clear deadlines for decisions based on work back from your desired launch date, and don’t forget to give yourself some contingency time.
2. Understand Your Brand Landscape
Your brand landscape should influence all elements of the project. Are you clear on your target audience? What makes you unique within your competitive landscape? Why does a client choose you over other options? For YMCAs, there is already a wealth of information about user types and goals. You can leverage this existing information, but it’s also useful to think about your regional context, your own organization and what is unique or appealing about you. It’s useful in this process to try to leave assumptions behind. Sometimes what you think is important to your clients is not, in fact, the case. At times, what resonates is less obvious and a bit of research will help uncover it. For the ImageX redesign, after further fleshing out our target audience and sectors, to ensure we fully understood our client and prospect desires and requirements, we carried out a number of user interviews across our current clients, nonclients and the internal team. We found this a useful process to help understand what people valued about us and how we were seen outside our organization.
In addition to the non-tangibles, it’s important to understand your brand assets — what physical things will you need to update with any new design? Printed or digital collateral? Office signage? Website & social channels? The earlier you know all of your brand touchpoints, the smoother the transition. Utilize your wider team in this endeavor, as often there will be assets used by other teams which you may not even be aware of. This is especially the case if it has been a number of years since a redesign and thus a number of employees are different from the previous effort.
3. Find a Balance
In the ImageX project, once we had a clear view of why we were carrying out the project and had prepared accordingly, we moved to design. This process included a series of different design options and color palettes. Our biggest learning at this stage was that the best design may not always be the best option in terms of UX.We’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let go of your favorites. In terms of redesign, when we looked at our logo, for example, there were some options which internally we loved; however, when we put them out to user testing, both internally and externally, these same options didn’t stand up and we had to just let them go. Ultimately, you need to find a balance between UX and great visual design. Ensure you test at every stage and have data to back up your decisions.
4. Be Open Minded
When it comes to changing visual identity, some stakeholders could be emotionally attached to certain elements of the current design. It is important to be open-minded, as the best design direction may evolve differently from what you think it is at the beginning of the process. For instance, within the previous ImageX identity the key color was green, this was something which we considered in a lot of detail. If we changed this element would our clients and prospects still know who we were at events?Remember, you must find what is right for your organization. You don’t need to follow trends. Visual elements like main colors have many meanings to many people, and even within the Y’s brand guidelines, emphasizing certain colors creates a different visual tone. What’s ‘hot’ when you are developing the identity may be ‘not’ the following year.
We advise to carry out testing with your stakeholders, internal and external. Your employees need to relate to the new design and ideally be excited by it. For your prospective customers and clients, the design needs to resonate with their experience working with your team and the brand. For instance, a non-profit organization would not connect well with a corporate design which used conservative colors. Instead, an approachable identity with softer colors would likely be better received.
With ImageX, when we were looking at logo options and color palettes, we tested variations, revised options and retested multiple times, narrowing down the options within every round. The testing itself can be quite simple. We used SurveyMonkey to create a series of surveys which never contained more than 3-5 questions regarding preference and reasoning.
5. Create an Internal Support System
Finally, it may seem obvious, but having internal support and buy-in from the full team for a project of this type is crucial. This doesn’t mean you have to ask everyone’s opinion on every stage of the project, but trying to involve your stakeholders at key points and give regular updates as to the project progress makes all the difference.We learned lots of other lessons from running our own brand refresh and website project; these are just a small handful of the key areas. If you are considering a brand update or new site, contact the ImageX team, who can advise on all stages of your digital experiences.
Next Major Release Release: May 12th
Features to be Included in this release:
- Technical Debt
- Accessibility bugs -Rose and Lily Theme
- Activity Finder Polish — Styling updates and changes to filter functionality
Release notes will be posted to https://community.openymca.org within 24 hours after the release has been made public. If you have any questions about the release contact your Project Manager to determine if it’s time to do an Open Y upgrade.
Congratulations to the following Associations for their Site launches:
|YMCA of Greater Houston:https://www.ymcahouston.org/|
|YMCA of Western North Carolina:Activity Finder implementation https://www.ymcawnc.org/programs-search-wizard|
Top Tip: Ensure your content is aligned ahead of a project kick off
Content planning is often one of the most challenging aspects of a web redesign project. For design and development, we usually know how to articulate our requirements, who should work on them, how to estimate and demonstrate them, and how to know when we’re done.Content is a whole other beast. Rather than starting with potential solutions, content planning typically starts with a host of difficult-to-answer questions. How much content are we looking to keep, rewrite or remove when moving to the new system? Who will review the content as it’s been written? What system will we even use to share the content during the editing process? Who needs to be involved in that process? When can we start?
That’s why, for content, it’s critical to start planning early, even before you begin a web project. Some things you may want to start preparing now include:
- Trying to find out how much content do you have right now. Many inventorying tools (such as Screaming Frog) can help you get this information and share it with your team.
- Identifying within the content you have right now, what the quality level of each page is and what content you are likely removing or archiving. Having a pretty good idea of the state of your content in advance will help you understand the work involved and, if you plan to work with a development partner, it will help them estimate the effort involved.
- Having a governance structure: identifying who needs to be involved in the process of editing, writing and approving. Perhaps there will be a core team, and SMEs you bring in for different sections (i.e., membership content).
- Identifying if you have someone on staff who has the skills and the time commitment to write this content. If you can, try to do a rough estimate of how many pages they may need to rewrite and estimate how many hours that may take them. This will help you as well with planning a full web project. If you don’t have this person, you may want to consider at least a temporary hire who can handle the writing or a development partner who can augment your team.
- Preparing as much user research as you can. Run user tests of your site, talk to customers about what content is important to them and why, review analytics, create user personas to help clarify key content goals. You may be surprised how much this helps clarify key messaging and priority of the content effort.
These are just a few things you can do to begin getting ready for full content migration. All of these things also help you if you’re not yet looking to do a full website redesign and are simply looking to manage content more effectively overall. As with most daunting tasks, the earlier you can plan, the better.