April #Fail

Presentation by Garth Moore
So April Fool’s Day has come and gone (hopefully you weren’t rickrolled too many times) but NetSquared DC’s April #Fail Day will be on our usual Third Tuesday schedule, April 19.

What’s April #Fail Day?  Thanks for asking! At NetSquared DC, many of our speakers come to tout their amazing successes for you to follow in your work. This month will be a little different, as we will have several presenters prepared to tell us about their failures: the things that didn’t work or go as planned. This event will be modeled on the FAILFaire concept, pioneered by Katrin Verclas of Mobile Active. For more information about FAILFaire, see www.failfaire.org.

We’ll follow the Ignite-style format of some of our past events, with each presenter getting 5 minutes to address our audience.  Then we’ll allow a couple of questions (60-90 seconds) before moving on to the next presenter. We’ll leave some networking time at the end for you to talk to presenters one-on-one, especially if there are certain details our presenters would rather not share with the whole audience.

Here are tonight’s presenters:

Garth Moore (1Sky’s White Label Community)
Michael Karlan (Professionals in the City’s website launch)
Greg Bloom (Bread for the City e-mail campaign)
Malcolm Barnes (print journalism > transition to digital publishing)
Paula Brantner (Workplace Fairness revenue model)

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Top Web Resources for WordPress Sites

The NetSquared Guide to Free Web Resources

Tonight we celebrated our 50th NetSquared event. Over the years, we’ve collected our notes and learned a lot from our workshops and presentations, so on our 50th anniversary event we compiled all these lessons into a handy guide.

Great one-click hosting for WordPress:

  1. http://www.bluehost.com/
  2. http://www.dreamhost.com/
  3. http://mediatemple.net/
  4. http://laughingsquid.net/
  5. http://www.siteground.com/
  6. http://www.rackspace.com

Free photo editing tools

WordPress wins award for best overall open source CMS

Free video tutorials on using WordPress:

Text based WordPress training:

Free WordPress Themes:

Top 10 WordPress plugins:

Sources for WordPress Themes

  1. http://www.studiopress.com/
  2. http://www.bestwpthemes.com/#premium_business
  3. http://www.rockettheme.com/wordpress
  4. http://www.templatesold.com/
  5. http://ithemes.com/
  6. http://mashable.com/2009/01/07/wordpress-2-7-themes/

Top 25 Do’s and Don’ts for your website (not in order)

  1. Do use software to reduce the size of any images you host on your site
  2. Design your text to be easy to scan by using header tags and writing in shorter chunks of information
  3. Put your contact information in the footer so it appears on every page.
  4. Use a web form, rather than an email address to let people contact you.
  5. Update your content frequently
  6. Don’t use flashing or blinking text or page counters
  7. Don’t use a Flash intro
  8. Don’t use coming soon or under construction. If it’s not ready, don’t publish it.
  9. Don’t use background music, especially if it auto-starts
  10. Don’t use an auto-start video
  11. Keep your site structure consistent, don’t swith elements around
  12. Don’t use a funky navigation. It will probably only annoy your visitors
  13. Do create a site map page. People still use them
  14. Do create an FAQ page, these can be very popular
  15. Don’t use ALL CAPS in your text
  16. Avoid italics, it’s hard to read online
  17. Don’t use anything beyond <H5>
  18. Use consistent hyperlinks. Don’t make anything look like a hyperlink if it isn’t a hyperlink
  19. Do use H1 for your post titles, H2 and H3 for everything else.
  20. Do use categories and tags for your posts
  21. Do include images in your posts so their not boring
  22. Do add your facebook and twitter accounts to your site
  23. Do regularly backup your site either manually http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Backups or automatically http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Backups#Automatic_Backups
  24. Do keep backups of your theme, especially before you attempt a theme modification. http://wordpress.jdwebdev.com/blog/backup-theme/
  25. Do set up feedburner for your blob
    1. http://www.google.com/support/feedburner/bin/topic.py?topic=13252
    2. http://feedburner.google.com

Top 10 Todo’s for SEO

General tips:

  • Focus on creating great content
  • Don’t try to trick Google

Specific tips:

  1. If you’re a local business set up your Google.com/places webpage
  2. Use kewords in your blog titles
  3. Write frequently, the more content you have the more likely you’ll be found
  4. Use permalinks and follow these instructions: http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks
  5. Set up your Google Webmaster Tools account and register your site
  6. For every image, make sure to provide a Title and Alt tag: http://siteground.com/tutorials/wordpress/wordpress_seo.htm#headings
  7. Follow the tips on this website http://www.siteground.com/tutorials/wordpress/wordpress_seo.htm
  8. Watch this 30 minute video for free on Google about how to use Google Webmaster http://services.google.com/breeze/webmasters/googleforwebmasters/
  9. Enter a meta description for each of your pages
  10. Check out this awesome resource from WordPress: http://codex.wordpress.org/Search_Engine_Optimization_for_WordPress

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net2dc Live!

We’re going to be broadcasting tonight’s get together live! If you can’t make it in person, this will be the place to be. This is out first time broadcasting from our location so please forgive any initial hiccups as we get the ball rolling!

Video will start at 7pm ET. This video should be viewed in either Firefox or Safari. You may have issues in Chrome – full Chrome support next time!

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Yeah, Our Website Sucks…What Can We Do About It?

Here’s some video from Hunter Whitney’s talk on website usability. You can download Hunter’s helpful one-page usability guide as a PDF or Word doc.

And, thanks to Noah Kunin of the Sunlight Foundation, our January event will be livestreamed.

No matter the size of your organization or budget, there are some basic ideas and approaches that can help bring order out of the chaos that a website design process can be. This presentation will offer some quick, low-cost ways to map out your website strategy and test it, drawing on established usability and design principles that anyone can adapt to their organization’s needs. There is more you can do to reach out online, advance your mission, increase donations and achieve your goals for the website.

About our speaker:

Hunter Whitney is President of Hunter Whitney & Associates, Inc., which offers information architecture, user experience design and content development consulting services for corporate, government and non-profit organizations. Hunter is also a published magazine and newspaper writer specializing in science, health and medicine. HW&A is passionate about creative problem solving in digital media.

About our sponsors:

GW’s Graduate School of Political Management (www.gspm.org/) is home of the Institute for Politics Democracy & The Internet and offers weekday evening classes to accommodate working professionals who can simultaneously apply material learned in classroom to their job.

They prepare students to work in politics by imparting the tools, techniques, and real-world experience, whether they are working at the political forefront or behind the scenes. Students are taught by faculty who are practitioners in the political field. GW’s Graduate School of Political Management strives to make politics better by stressing ethical, effective political leadership at the international, national and local levels – in a non-partisan environment.

We’re also sponsored for a few months by Microsoft as they launch Windows 7. To learn about the seven ways Windows 7 can simplify your life, check out their launch site.

Posted in Featured | 5 Comments

Our favorite videos for change

At last month’s event we shared our favorite online videos, spanning advocacy, documentaries, and viral campaigns, and discussed what worked and what didn’t. For anyone who couldn’t make it, or just for some inspiration as you produce your own videos, here are some of the featured works. Feel free to comment or tweet us @net2dc to add any that we missed.

And don’t forget to check out http://freevlog.org/ for free video resources, in-person trainings, and a supportive community of people producing videos for change.

Steven from InvisiblePeople.tv on Vimeo.

Imagine living under a busy freeway in New Orleans. Now imagine you have to sleep in a group, because the threat of violence is never far.

When you live outside, without a door to lock or a roof over your head, you are constantly vulnerable to violence. For Steven, the fear of violence never completely goes away. He said the other night another homeless man was “bricked.” (Yes, it is as horrible as it sounds.)

That all said, I’m still shocked after hearing the last job Steven held.

“Fidelity”: Don’t Divorce… from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Thanks to our sponsor the Sunlight Foundation, a DC-based non-partisan non-profit dedicated to using the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency.

Posted in Featured, Video | 2 Comments