A few good links, 2016-09-08

We have the day off in Geneva. Here are a few good links…

Theranos’s story shows Silicon Valley is terrible and we should think twice before mimicking it. White nationalism grows fast. The Swiss vote on intelligence and mass surveillance will never work. Yanis Varoufakis wants us to choose Star Trek over The Matrix as the template for our economic and political future. Star Trek politics chronicle the decline of US liberalism, according to Timothy Sandefur. This summary of The Matrix in French is funny, by the way.

Magic might save us all. Peter Bebergal, author of “Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll”, talks about magic and music with Marc Maron. Jessa Crispin points out feminism was born out of Spiritualism. Laurie Penny examines links between liberalism and Harry Potter.

And a calming GIF of a crab eating a cherry.

Cutting corners on social media

I’ve been a part-time social media manager for a long time now. Other responsibilities and tasks have always made it hard to focus on the social media side of things. This is far from ideal. The stakes are high, opportunities to embarrass yourself and your organisation are plenty. There are opportunities to be seized and risks to be mitigated on social media platforms. To reap benefits, you have to engage. Yet, lots of managers throw social media responsibilities on people — often young people because they’re hip — as just another task in their job description.

party-not-blackwidow

If you’re a manager, DON’T DO THAT.

If you’ve been tasked with starting social media campaigns with little prior experience and an already full plate, there are corners you can cut and methods you can use. Remember, however, that corner-cutting always comes at a cost. As a beginner, you won’t be good right away. You should manage expectations.

Chances are, your organisation is going to social media because they want to acquire traffic. Temptations are strong to dive head first in a paid campaign and get results on the spot. You should never start with paid advertising on social media. It would be best to establish a strategy and a baseline presence. That way, you may gather a following that will be an asset for future efforts too.

Be honest and strategize

Be very honest with yourself about the time and attention you can devote to them. Open only channels you can sustain and nourish. Think hard about what you have to contribute and what your audience wants.

What will you publish, for whom, and where? These questions are the most important. Answers depend entirely on what you’re selling and your unique constraints. No shortcuts there.

Start by listening. Research your topics, find what you can provide, find people’s pain points. This will help you determine what to publish. Once you start on social media, never stop listening and adapting. Monitor answers, comments, messages and answer them.

Before you do any kind of paid advertising, publish non-self-promotion updates/links. You should be able to publish helpful or entertaining things at regular intervals. Paid campaigns can help you build a following. It will be more effective if there’s valuable content on your profiles. People will follow your profiles in larger numbers if you have a track record of enjoyable and useful content.

Listening tools

Since you’re time-constrained and/or busy, you won’t be able to gather information actively. You’ll have to rely on tools to monitor the conversation online and find links to share with your audiences.

Large organisations circulate press reviews. You should subscribe. It will give you an idea of the conversation around your organisation and, perhaps, give you links to share.

Google Alerts remains one of my most prized tools. Set up one or several of these. Relevant Google results will pour into your e-mail account. Use straight quotes and the operators AND and OR. Like so…

Screenshot from 2016-08-30 22:36:04

Be sure to play with the advanced settings (content types, language, …) until you get the best results.

Publishing tools

You should craft updates for each social network individually because each has its own culture and “traditions”. That’s the ideal. You’re time-constrained and/or busy so you may publish links and updates on several social media services at once using Hootsuite. Remain aware that updates tailored to specific networks are best. Make sure your updates work in all their contexts.

Hootsuite also makes it possible to schedule updates. Scheduling is antithetical to genuine conversation which makes it risky. Never do it more than a few days in advance. Social media should remain a conversation. When there are major world events or other ripples through your communities, you’ll have to change your plans. Remember…

  • Monitor the conversation and events closely.
  • Have a device that can access all your accounts and especially Hootsuite to delete/cancel updates with you at all times.
  • Give a trusted colleague access to the accounts in case of an emergency.

Be ready for the traffic you buy

Acquiring loads of traffic is the dream most organisations chase on social media. Getting hits on a page with incomplete information is a waste. People will turn around and leave in an eye blink the page doesn’t answer their questions. They will leave if they feel mislead, if the page doesn’t load fast enough, if it doesn’t capture their interest… Problems with your website content can annihilate all your efforts. Best make it good before directing tons of expensive traffic to it.

Work with the people who take care of that website to iron things out. Ask yourself and them… Once they get on this page, what do you want prospects to do? What is the end goal? You can try to get as many prospects to give you their contact information and have your sales team contact them. You may want prospects to send an application through a form or place an order. Decide on a desirable outcomes and trace the steps that’ll get you there.

You should have the basics of this process (the sales funnel) figured out before launching any campaign. You’ll never get it 100% right. Be ready to keep iterating and adapting forever.

Set up your analytics right

There’s money on the line. For each paid publication or ad, you should estimate how many sales you made, how many prospects decided to contact you, etc. depending on your end goal.

Make sure the site where the traffic from the social network will land has Google Analytics enabled. Your objectives (form completions, post-sales thank you pages…) should be set as goals. Get help from the website’s developer for that. Make sure the data is *actually* collected. Require access to all relevant analytics panels to keep an eye on things.

Google Analytics makes it possible to create unique URLs to differentiate traffic sources. For each paid publication, create a unique URL and you’ll know which paid publication generated the most traffic. It will permit to accurately follow which link was clicked. You can, therefore, compare various versions of your ad and campaigns. Use the URL creation tool from Google Analytics. Everything is explained in the detailed help section.

A word of caution… You will most probably have big discrepancies between numbers from Facebook Ad Manager and from Google Analytics. This may feel weird to you and your bosses. There’s not much you can do about that. Analytics are only indications. Most marketers have to accept this as a fact of life. There are various ways to explain these differences in this Quora thread.

Take your time and let algorithms take theirs.

The more time you have to prepare and execute a campaign, the more bang you’ll get for your buck. On the contrary, the less time you’ll have to invest, the more money it is going to take to get results. With enough sharp thinking in your targeting (the criteria used to select people you want to see your ad) and enough time for the social networks’ algorithms to test and optimise your campaign, clicks, likes, comments or video play will be cheaper.

If you feel overwhelmed by these notions, you understand why this is a job ;). Being a beginner at this stuff and be put in a position in which you have to perform is stressful, I know. Don’t get discouraged though: read articles online, make mistakes and correct them, get help…

Thoughts on the latest Twitter abuse piece

The Buzzfeed piece about Twitter abuse that makes the rounds since last Thursday proves to be a very interesting read. The way the abuse problem has been left to fester is infuriating. So much so that while reading I took notes. Notes laced with profanity. Here are a few thoughts.

Free speech radicalism is an easy extremist tenet to hold in many ways. First, it is often defended by people who don’t know abuse at all. They, therefore, don’t have to make any sacrifices for this radical belief of theirs. Second, it is — in theory — a steadfast policy that protects the company from liabilities. They can then say that they’re a utility and don’t make content decisions.

It stems, however, from a weird idea of free speech. Free speech is great. I wouldn’t want the government to silence me but I want to be held accountable for the shit I say. Free speech radicals seem to have another definition. To many of them, free speech as being allowed to say whatever you want, often without suffering any consequences. Allowing people to be protected from the consequences of shitty actions and shitty words is not a moral imperative. It creates a toxic environment where a few assholes can police the speech of all the others by unleashing barrages of abuse and threats. It doesn’t help foster more productive debates. Just the opposite.

Yet, once people accept something needs to be done, the search for the ‘perfect solution’ begins… This search lead to paralysis as Vivian Schiller is reported as saying in the piece. Extremists always ask for a perfect solution before letting go of their own problematic one. Always seeking to swap an extremism for another. But that’s not how the social space works, that’s not how humans function and communicate. There needs to be moderation in every sense of the word. We need kind and intelligent judgment calls and concessions. There needs to be consistency obviously but no solution will ever be perfect.

Jack Dorsey is quoted as saying “No employee should ever be in the position of having to decide, subjectively, what qualifies as free speech and what does not”. This makes me doubtful that this problem will ever be mitigated. It will always come down to human judgment whether the judgment of a moderator or the judgment of an engineer designing an algorithm. Stress cases will always arise where the meaning of free speech will need to be discussed. Putting the burden completely on the users to moderate is again non-committal safe in the sense that investors might not punish the company and it won’t unleash lawsuits but it won’t fix the problem that for a vast majority of users, being on Twitter is very tiring work, an energy drain and often even a safety concern.

Large organizations all have things they’d rather not discuss (*cough* web governance *cough*), power struggles they’d rather not address, ambiguities that are preserved even if they hurt the business because it is believed that somehow these discussions would never end and distract everyone. I firmly believe leaders should encourage these discussions nonetheless. Especially in this case.

 

Suicide Squad: Hammered into shape with Harley’s mallet

First of all, be warned. This little essay is riddled with SPOILERS. There are a lot of SPOILERS here. Every second word is a SPOILER. I’ll assume you saw the movie. You’ve been warned about SPOILERS. Don’t come crying to me about SPOILERS. So many SPOILERS. So many.

We’ve lost the SPOILER-averse? Good.

“Suicide Squad” is not as good as it could’ve been. They hammered elements into the scenario with Harley Quinn’s mallet. The movie struggles to contain all that has been thrown into it. This doesn’t work.

Suffering from indecision

The movie suffers from a problem that affects most comics-based movies. It has trouble balancing fan service and broader appeal. In its bid to appeal to everyone and explain everything, its exposition is long and strange and forced. Members of the squad are introduced one by one as Weller speaks with high ranking national security officials in the restaurant. That structure which works in heist movies such as Ocean’s Eleven feels wrong and unnatural here.

Having secondary characters come to the fore and important characters (like Batman) recede in the background is an ambitious project. To pull it off, character development should at least work well and fast. It doesn’t. Character development in “Suicide Squad” has too many moving parts. They take up all the space to the detriment of the story. Focusing on fewer elements would have stoked the ire of some fans but would have made things easier to order into a more functional cinematic narrative machine.

Focusing on characters and letting the audience spend some time with them could help us forgive problems with the story. Characters enter from the left and the right at odd times. Slipknot, for example, appears without any back story or forewarning only to be killed moments later. His arc exists solely to ensure that audiences understand nanobombs injected in all their necks are real and stakes are high. Katana appears seemingly out of nowhere too. So does the Enchantress’ brother/slave. These moves seem gauche and took me out of the flow.

Harley, Deadshot and ALL the others

Harley and Deadshot are introduced rather well — most probably because there might be romance in the air next. Their skills and motivations are covered early and they are therefore better established from the beginning. These characters work very well and the actors who portray them have stuff to work with. They do so very well. This creates expectations for other members of the squad which aren’t met.

The Joker is perhaps the biggest disappointment of the whole movie for me. The scene where the Joker offers Harley was out of character and didn’t do a thing to establish the nature of their relationship. However, the “Would you die/live for me?” was powerful and purposeful. Were it introduced sooner, it may have worked better.

Killer Croc is presented by Waller as damaged by the way he is treated because of his appearance. It is almost left at that. We’re not invited to try and understand his motives. He is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, shrouded in character dysfunction. He is not one of the most well-known and oft adapted characters in the DC universe. The audience is right in expecting something more, especially since his unique ability to swim is very important to the dénouement. He deserved a better treatment.

For most other characters, seemingly random tidbits of backstory and dialogue are presented. They don’t form a coherent picture. It doesn’t smell like writers have the characters straightened out either. This problem is lurking throughout the DC universe and isn’t exclusive to “Suicide Squad”. As long as they are secondary characters, one can keep them a little blurred in a background of (sic) moral bankruptcy. As soon as you bring them to the fore, strategies to distance the “villains” from the “good” guys should be forbidden. Motives should be made clear. Moral complexity should be embraced. It seems the movie doesn’t bring them fully into focus and neither does it keep them in the background which makes for a blurry ensemble.

As antagonists go, the Enchantress and her barely one-dimensional brother are very sad. “She does magic, impressive shit — naked and covered in wet ashes” is the full depth of the character, it seems. Her brother is hastily introduced because the story reaches a stalemate in her confrontation with Weller. Neither him nor her have clear motives. The Enchantress’s plan materialises out of nowhere. Losing the brother, keeping the Enchantress under Weller’s thumb and making Weller the antagonist would have opened so many great doors.

A late glimpse of potential in the bar scene

Lots of the things I adore about the DC universe were definitely there.

  • Individuality and conformity in tension,
  • the impossibility (real or imagined) to adhere to “normal”,
  • the problematic relationship between mental health and criminality,
  • the age-old Gothamite question of contagious antisocial behavior

These are all themes and problems in the DC universe that I love. They are explored in “Gotham” way better and more thoroughly than here, obviously. In many ways, “Suicide Squad” could have been an even better venue to explore them because Harley and Mr. J. are present and everyone is farther along in their careers.

The bar scene is a pivotal moment. It made the characters’ struggles real and relatable. Three quarters into the movie is pretty late to establish the motivations and struggles of main characters. Elements about them gel and aggregate only at that point. If you’re gonna have a thin story, the movie could’ve been laced with more of a reflection around evil, what makes them bad, can they repent and reform, is a punishing prison system the best way. The elements are all there but they’re not developped to their fullest because of time constraints and completely out of order.

Amanda Weller does some terrible fucking things in the name of law, order and patriotism because she fears superhumans. Some prison guards are clearly sadists, what about that? What makes law and order so great if the “good” guys kill and torture too? What makes Batman different to Weller if he has offensive weapons? Deadshot and Flag have a conversation in the helicopter about their differences. Flag — whose name is funny in that context — gets out of the argument by stating that he’s a soldier. He has other reasons to be there but the argument just ends never to be referenced again. Loose ends like this are everywhere. It’s sad.

It would have been relevant to explore these issues more. As a culture, we desperately need more reflection around these topics as we grapple with gun violence, police brutality and various extremisms.

Joyeux Anniversaire, Creative Mornings Geneva!

Le chapitre genevois de Creative Mornings fête son quatrième anniversaire ce mois-ci. Quatre ans déjà que cette équipe de personnes adorables propose des petits-déjeuners, présentations et rencontres mensuelles à Genève. Tout ceci a commencé dans la ville de New-York en 2008 à l’initiative de Tina Roth Eisenberg (aussi connue sous le nom de Swissmiss). Elle a décidé d’organiser des conférences matinales accessibles et gratuites dans son quartier. Son idée a rapidement essaimé. Aujourd’hui, 144 villes à travers le monde ont des chapitres locaux organisés par des bénévoles. Genève a la chance d’en faire partie.

J’ai été un lecteur de Swissmiss et un spectateur des vidéos de ses conférences avant le début du chapitre genevois. Naturellement, lorsque le chapitre genevois a commencé, j’étais très heureux. Cela coïncidait avec ma sortie de l’Université. J’avais bien besoin de rencontrer des jeunes professionnels de différents horizons et cette communauté m’a accueilli à bras grands ouverts. J’ai eu la chance de pouvoir participer à presque tous les petits déjeuners et rester fidèle à ces événements même après avoir trouvé mon emploi actuel. Les organisateurs sont vraiment supers. Toutes ces opportunités d’apprendre et de rencontrer des gens m’emplissent d’une immense gratitude.

Cet anniversaire est l’occasion idéale pour moi de proposer une courte sélection de quatre conférences qui m’ont marquées:

Je me réjouis beaucoup de continuer à aller tous les mois au Creative Mornings Geneva. Si vous n’êtes pas encore venus, j’espère que vous pourrez vous libérer pour venir la prochaine fois…

Merci encore aux organisateurs. Vous êtes géniaux!

Adieu ThinkUp

sad-pony

Hier soir, j’ai appris avec tristesse la fin annoncée de ThinkUp. Anil Dash, co-fondateur de cette entreprise avec Gina Trapani a expliqué les raisons de cette fermeture sur Medium.

ThinkUp permettait de recevoir des informations sur son utilisation des réseaux sociaux sous formes de petites capsules digestes comme “Evren a utilisé des points d’exclamation dans 133 tweets au cours du mois écoulé” plutôt que sous formes de graphiques difficiles à interpréter.

Malheureusement, ce genre de service repose entièrement sur les APIs des grands réseaux sociaux. Les APIs permettent de récupérer des données depuis les réseaux sociaux pour les traiter. Les grandes entreprises qui les gèrent, font régulièrement des changements dans ces APIs — parfois pour des raisons techniques et parfois pour décourager les développeurs de créer des clients alternatifs.

Au plus beau jour de ce service, on pouvait recevoir des observations pertinentes sur notre utilisation de Twitter, Facebook et Instagram. Facebook et Instagram ont récemment fait des changements importants et assez restrictifs à leurs APIs. Twitter se prépare à en faire aussi.

Comme l’explique Anil Dash dans son billet, ces modifications entraînent des surcoûts de développement imprévisibles. Le nombre d’abonnés n’étant pas assez important pour absorber ces surcoûts et les repreneurs potentiels étant inquiets de buter sur les mêmes problèmes, le service sera arrêté le 18 juillet prochain.

Cela me pousse à me demander si on peut compter sur les APIs des géants du web. On est, au moins, obligé d’admettre qu’il faut des poches profondes pour pouvoir suivre leurs évolutions parfois brusques. Cela rend, évidemment, difficile la survie de petits projets financés par l’abonnement et qui se refuse à afficher de la pub ou vendre les données aux annonceurs. Je me réjouis de voir les co-fondateurs écrire à ce propos.

Je tiens à profiter de cette occasion pour remercier encore une fois très chaleureusement Gina Trapani et Anil Dash pour avoir créé et maintenu ThinkUp. Merci infiniment. Et bonne chance pour leurs projets futurs.

Cette annonce de fermeture me fait prendre conscience, encore une fois, à quel point il est important de sauvegarder le web ouvert et indépendant. Les technologies standardisées et ouvertes permettent, seules, l’émergence de ces projets cools. Bloguer sur nos propres sites, avoir nos propres flux RSS, … est très important pour garder ces technologies et ces usages vivants.

Chercher l’utile: une mission de la stratégie de contenu

Hier soir, j’étais à une conférence de Geoffrey Dorne organisée par UX Romandie et intitulée “A la poursuite de l’utile”. Geoffrey Dorne s’y interrogeait sur l’utilité dans notre travail de designer

Il trouvait dommage qu’on aie tendance à faire du design pour les designers. Il nous a notamment enjoint à nous mettre au service de personnes qui en ont vraiment besoin en nous mettant dans le contexte de défis globaux que nous devons collectivement relever comme les conséquences du changement climatique, le développement et les droits humains.

En chemin, il arrivait à une conclusion très belle: nous trouvons notre utilité lorsque nous nous mettons au service du métier de l’autre.

Chercher l’utile dans le contenu

Cela m’a fait réfléchir à mon propre parcours et mes propres ambitions. Quand il a demandé qui était designer, je n’ai pas levé la main. J’aurais peut-être dû. Ne pas lever la main dans cette assemblée me permet de me démarquer (et de me faire remarquer) cependant. Une personne qui utilise les outils de la stratégie de contenu est aussi un designer puisque nous allions outils, méthode et empathie pour arriver à un résultat meilleur que la situation de départ. Les outils de la stratégie de contenu sont là pour s’assurer que les contenus répondent aux besoins des utilisateurs et, dans le même temps, aux objectifs d’affaire de nos propres clients. Une introduction à la stratégie de contenu plus détaillée composée par Kristina Halvorson dans “A List Apart” est disponible en français.

Sans le formuler ainsi, la présentation “A la poursuite de l’utile” appelait une certaine mise de côté de l’ego. En rappelant qu’il fallait se mettre au service du métier du client, cela appelle à mettre de côté son propre ego. C’est peut-être aussi la voie à suivre pour se prémunir de l’ego du client. dans le service à la clientèle, et le design en fait partie, il est primordial d’éviter les batailles d’ego avec le client puisqu’il finit, en général, par l’emporter et notre relation de confiance avec lui en pâti. Que cela soit au niveau personnel, inter-personnel ou organisationnel, l’ego semble être un frein à l’utile. L’ego des organisations est un frein à la création et au maintien de contenus utiles. Dans son billet, Gerry McGovern précise également que l’ego organisationnel ruine la confiance des gens dans les institutions. La lettre du CEO qu’il faut mettre en page d’accueil, les grandes photographies de cadres souriants et signant des documents, les buzzwords vides de signification pour les prospects et les clients… tout cela relève de l’ego de l’organisation, consomme des ressources qui pourraient être utilisées à des fins bien plus utiles.

Les limites de nos méthodologies

La production de contenu est un domaine de nos projets de design web et de communication qui manque souvent cruellement de méthode et d’organisation. Pourtant, comme Geoffrey Dorne nous l’a rappelé dans sa présentation, on risque de tomber dans le fétichisme méthodologique ou de se retrouver un peu paralysé par l’immense choix d’outils qui s’offre à nous. Quelques tableaux RACI, jeux de triage de carte, séance de collage de post-it, et quelques flowcharts peuvent souvent nous aider à organiser la création et le maintien des contenus. Cela devient un problème lorsque le résultat de ce travail se retrouve dans des rapports et des listes de recommandations. Beaucoup de praticiens le reconnaissent, les rapports sont rangés dans des tiroirs et ne contribuent que très peu à faire changer les choses.

Cette prise de conscience est une évolution bienvenue que j’ai commencé à remarquer à Confab Europe 2014. Là-bas, les discussions méthodologiques sont passées de l’effort solitaire d’analyse à des formes plus collectives d’implication des clients au travers d’ateliers. C’était flagrant dans la présentation de Sara Wachter-Boettcher et dans celle donnée par Ida Aalen et Audun Rundberg. En plus de donner une marche à suivre, on accompagne les humains qui composent les organisations pour lesquels nous travaillons afin qu’ils participent à trouver les solutions qu’ils devront appliquer.

Se mettre au service du métier des autres

Les designers de contenus travaillent pour les utilisateurs et pour l’organisation mais aussi pour les humains qui composent ces organisations. La plupart des personnes chargées de créer des contenus ne se sentent pas accompagnées. Elles se voient ainsi confiées de nouvelles responsabilités qui s’ajoutent à leur charge de travail existante sans forcément recevoir les outils nécessaires. L’écriture semble aller de soi à ceux qui distribuent le travail et cela ajoute souvent du stress inutile.

Et quand on se sent frustré de ne pas pouvoir apporter de clarifications et de changements au niveau stratégique, ou qu’on se sente frustré par l’ego organisationnel, le souci d’aider les autres à faire leur métier et créer des contenus utiles est quelque chose auquel on peut se raccrocher. C’est utile. Et c’est un premier pas dans la bonne direction.

The headache of staff profile pages

Team member profiles or biographies can be found on many organisation’s sites. For most of them, employees are the best resource and, also, the best ambassadors. A college, for example, must have visible teaching staff members to attract students and funders as well.

Worth it?

There are, obviously, exceptions. A few companies like Brain Traffic or Mule Design (who instead put forth their writing) have dispensed with this section of their site entirely. Maybe their communications strategy focuses on their methods and brand rather than on the specific people working there. Maybe they realise what a mess biographies can become. Maybe both. It always pays to ask if a section of your website is worth having and maintaining.

Let’s say you decide it is worth the investment. Keep in mind that all content is political. Any discussions about content can surface power struggles in the organisation. Managing biographies even more so because the self-representation needs of the employees will clash with the organisation’s agenda.

Lots of organisations just give up on having difficult conversations and they’ll leave the content up to the person being profiled.

The mess

If employees end up being responsible for their own profile pages, messes can be very costly. Quite often, in huge organisations encouraging collaboration and transdisciplinarity, people will have many profiles across different departments and teams.

Every change has to be made multiple times — most probably through people who have direct access to the CMS. Often, they’re different people in each department. This operation therefore has to be repeated multiple times. That is a horrible waste of everyone’s time and focus. It creates a lot of frustration too. People put it off for as long as possible and, in the meantime, profiles get out-of-date and out of sync with their other ones.

Sorting it

The whole organisation can benefit from having standards around voice and tone, length and even which topics are discussed and which aren’t in these biographical sections. For example, few people always insist on giving the number of their children on their profiles.

Can employees represent themselves with complete freedom on their employers’ website? Do employees get to decide which photo they want on their profiles without any guidelines?

It pays to have these conversations and put standards in place especially if the employees are represented as ambassadors for the business and their presence has to serve clear business goals. Having clarity and consistency in the biographical section of the website projects a coherent image of the team. It is achievable if you define a clear purpose for this section as well as communicate this purpose clearly to team members.

 

Notes sur la difficulté d’articuler des buts pour les projets de communication

Il est souvent très difficile de parvenir à l’articulation d’un objectif pour un projet comme un site web ou une campagne réseau sociaux. La communication dans ces médiums est encore trop souvent vue comme un travail d’emballage et de transport: un souci technique — de l’IT. Ainsi, la question des objectifs semble absurde. L’objectif est que le monde entier vienne lire nos news supers intéressantes sur notre site et nos profils de réseaux sociaux. On va emballer ces trucs et les envoyer par Internet à tout le monde. Cette façon de voir les choses est aisée. Elle permet de refiler le truc à envoyer au technicien et de ne plus s’en occuper.

Or, cela place les praticiens que nous sommes face à un problème. Pour pouvoir bien faire notre travail, il faut que nous comprenions: et le public visé, et les buts poursuivis. D’une part, il convient de définir un public ciblé car il est fort peu probable que nous ayons les moyens de nous assurer l’attention de “tout le monde”. D’autre part, même si nous l’avions, qu’en ferions-nous alors? Que dirions-nous si un stade tout entier nous écoutait fébrilement?

Souvent, nous recevons le conseil de demander le “pourquoi” des choses. Cependant, si nos interlocuteurs pensent effectivement que la communication est une affaire d’emballage et de transport, nos questions risquent d’être accueillies par l’incompréhension et l’agacement.

Il convient de demander des réponses candides. Souvent, nos interlocuteurs ont besoin d’être rassurés. Nous devons donc biaiser et trouver des stratégies pour poser nos questions. On assurera, par exemple, que le supérieur ne connaîtra pas les détails et que les propos ne seront pas rapportés tels quels et surtout pas attribués. Montrer qu’elles ne portent aucun jugement ni même une remise en question de la gestion du projet et de l’autorité du patron est parfois difficile. Aussi bien celui qui pose les questions que celui qui les accueillent devrait comprendre qu’elles permettent au designer, à l’architecte de l’information, au stratège de contenu… enfin au prestataire de service dans la communication de mieux comprendre et donc d’apporter plus de valeur et une réflexion plus aboutie.

One-person web teams are cheap not inexpensive

Single-person web teams might seem like a great bargain but they’re not. They tend to become stuck in a content uploader role which is bad both from an HR and day-to-day business perspective.

When discussions and collaboration happen in another realm, the one-person web team only gets e-mails with attachments or content copy-pasted for immediate release. No wonder that all the person can do is make the markup remotely OK and hit “Publish”. Ron Bronson captured the challenges of being a one-person web team very well in his recent slide deck.

As a content uploader, the only way you have of gaining respect and trust seems to react ever faster and put things up as soon as they land in the inbox. It becomes the new rule of the game. You may protest that with more forethought and planning, you’d be able to edit it and content would have more impact. By putting up the content just-in-time, you allow everyone to save face. By doing so, you also remove their incentive to listen when you propose to focus on better processes. All you get is shrugs and excuses.

Having the web team stuck in this reactive mode is bad for business because the website usually ends up sucking. Always being on alert with an e-mail client open; ready to drop what you’re doing to copy-paste stuff into the CMS eats into energy, time and attention. It prevents one-person web teams from growing and learning new skills that the organisation will ultimately need.

It is much better to allow enough time and resources for the web team to work with subject matter experts, pair write and/or edit the content. It takes a little more money and effort but, in the end, the website can only be better for it.