K Street Newsletter :: Directions

August 2018    |    VOLUME 16, ISSUE 8

Content First

People are visual creatures, so the way something looks has a lot to do with how we feel about it. In both print and web design, it's not unusual to start with mockups and wireframes, working out the look and feel before there's any real context in the mix. Blocks of text can be simulated with what's called "greeking." You've probably seen that in paragraphs that begin "Lorem ipsum;" there's even a function to generate it built into Microsoft Word. Think of this as a Design First model. People can brainstorm, develop and refine the design of a website in a process that's entirely divorced from the information that site will ultimately contain. But should they?

Many leading agencies are moving to a Content First philosophy, believing that it will lead to more efficient designs and a better user experience. The form and function are certainly important, but ultimately it's the content that your users are there to see. If you want a genuinely user-centric website, you have to use the content as the foundation. That implies the need for a serious assessment of what kind of content you intend to deliver (copy, images, video, downloadable items, etc. ) and a strategy to develop that content in a way that supports your business goals. You should also establish a content hierarchy that ranks things from most to least important. That implies a kind of architecture, which can be  represented by a site map. Look and feel is still important, and the best sites will have a balance of quality content presented in an engaging design.


Customer Engagement Trends

Managing customer relationships is the key to any business. How do you find them, how do you land them and how do you keep them engaged? Acquiring new customers is a lot harder (and more expensive) than hanging on to the ones you already have. Given the intensely competitive world of modern business, you can't assume that happy customers will stay that way forever.

Social media has given companies new ways to work this customer engagement angle, and this article notes some recent trends. A lot has to do with what's called customer experience, and that essentially refers to how customers feel during their interactions with your brand. Do they feel you're treating them with respect and delivering on your commitments? Are your web environments easy to navigate? That's important. Personalization is the key here. Even the biggest companies are looking for ways to emulate the experience of a small local shop. They want to let you know they understand what you like, and are committed to putting your preferences front and center. They're working to personalize their web environments in ways that make customers feel exclusive and special. According to a recent survey, 90% of organizations believe that personalization is an important part of their engagement strategy.


Street Smarts 178: Leverage your digital workplace.

A hot word in employee relations these days is "engaged." It's largely replaced ideas like motivated, efficient and productive, on the assumption that an engaged employee will be all that and more. Engaged employees will have the big picture in mind, understand their organization's strategy and find creative ways to contribute to its success. So what can managers do to encourage employee engagement?

This article offers three ideas, starting with effective use of electronic communications. Since workplaces are no longer defined by a physical space and a standard workday, managers have new ways to leverage today's digital environments in ways that capture and hold workers' interests. These new technologies enable knowledge sharing and collaboration, and also make it easier for workers to keep up to date. With the right combination of newsletters, alerts and other notifications, it's easier and cheaper to keep everyone in the loop. But while the technology makes it possible, it still needs the right kind of management to make it work. Managers who see information access as a privilege may only want to share things on a need-to-know basis. That's a shame, and an opportunity lost.


The Priming Effect

If truth be told, we just loved this title. And the concept was new to us. The Priming Effect is a principle that says the way we react to one stimulus influences the way we react to a later stimulus, and in this article, the discussion has to do with how color can influence viewers' reactions with a carry-over effect. That is, viewers' emotional reactions to colors can be translated to negative or positive feelings about their overall experience with something like a Web site.

Everyone experiences color differently, and beyond certain cultural chestnuts (pink is for girls, blue is for boys), there are no hard and fast rules. Cultures vary. Black is the color of mourning in most of the West, but white is the color of mourning in China. If you're building something that's trying to sell products for little girls, going with a pink palette makes sense, since you can leverage that cultural foundation. However, it's also true that color isn't as important as personality type when it comes to on-line transactions. Some people are more impulsive than others, and therefore more prone to click on "Free Offer" buttons, regardless of the color used.


Preparing for the Brain Drain

Since the earliest days of Knowledge Management, practitioners have seen the retirement of the Baby Boom generation as a threat on the horizon. We've written about it ourselves several times, and it was a particular area of interest for an old KM colleague from our corporate consulting days. That threat is only getting closer. The first wave of the boomer generation hit age 65 in 2011; by 2029, all boomers will be retirement age. For the next 20 years, an estimated 10,000 boomers will retire every day. The estimate is that: 56% of leadership positions in the US workforce are held by boomers. It's a problem for big companies, but it might be even worse for small companies. Many will not survive when the owner decides it's time to stop working.

This article offers some ideas for how to manage the brain drain, by developing a program for "un-graying" your organization. That starts with good succession planning, something that will be critical over the coming years. Look at the areas where you are most at risk for the loss of knowledge, connections and expertise. Then look for ways to support your designated successors, until they're ready to work on their own. And be sure to look at all levels of your organization. The loss of executive talent is often seen as the most significant, but you also want succession plans for anyone who has a direct impact on marketing strategy, product design and customer retention.





Directions is an electronic newsletter about things related to KM & Communications, published on the second Wednesday of each month (check out the current issue above). It’s a double opt-in system, which means you’ll receive an email asking you to confirm that you really want it. Once you click on the link in that mail, you’ll be signed up. You can always unsubscribe using the same link (or by using the link provided in every issue). We will absolutely not give your address to any third parties. What are we, crazy?

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