When the Data Says You’re Wrong, Do What’s Right

Balloon_Dog.JPGRead most reports on how to write emails that generate clicks, and you’ll see the same advice: shorter, punchier, more calls to action, use questions in your subject lines, et. al. Such suggestions have over the past few years become conventional wisdom for people who rely on emails to drive traffic to their content. 

And like most conventional wisdom, it can sometimes be wrong. We’ve been doing A/B testing recently to see what kinds of messaging generated more attention for our work, and while we still don’t have 100-percent definitive answers, our audience (leaders of nonprofit organizations) seem to prefer longer lead ins and more depth over quick-hit calls for them to click on a link. 

Review: BlueJeans Videoconferencing Service

BlueJeans Logo

I had a chance today to join a videoconference using BlueJeans’ videoconferencing service. Consider this more a quick report than a real review.

# Participants: Phone, 6; Video, 5, Conference room, 12

Connection methods: Polycom Video System, BlueJean browser plugin, dial in

Attempt #1: I first attempted to dial in using Microsoft Linc on my Windows 7 work machine, which was supposedly an option (One of BlueJeans’ big marketing points is the ability to join a conference using a wide variety of clients, including Linc, Skype and browser plug-ins). I logged in to the BlueJeans site, clicked on the Linc link, waited about 30 seconds and received a “could not connect” error. I tried 4-5 times and received the same error, so I moved on.

The Value of Effort-Even Just a Little

Content Strategy Effort Team

As a child of a perfectionist parent–and grandparent, for that matter–I grew up under the mantra that anything worth doing was worth doing well. I didn't always live up to the expectation, but trying to achieve something like perfection served me well in school and later in my fledgling career as a journalist. It soon became clear, however, that perfection in the business world isn't easy to achieve while still making a profit. There was never time to do every possible interview. There was never space to write every interesting word. (Though editing to length became a perfectionist pursuit in its own right.)

User experience interviews as two-way street to learning


I recently was asked by Elance.com to have a conversation with some user experience and design folks about my time using their site. I've been a user of Elance for several years for both personal and professional work, and while I'm generally very happy with their service, I was looking forward to the chance to talk about some issues I've had navigating the site.

I expected the standard list of questions around why I use the site, how I plan to use the site in the future, and what features I found most helpful or might want to see in later updates. What I didn't expect–and really appreciated–was the ad hoc training session that happened in response to one of my queries.

iPhone Desktop Organization for Efficiency

iPhone Organization Screen

My current iPhone home screen

I use my iPhone every day, practically from the moment I wake up until just before I go to bed. I'm also an app packrat, so my screens are full of apps I use everywhere from every couple hours to once a month or less.

I've tried various organization schemes–putting all my favorites on the first screen or two, dividing absolutely everything into folders, and several steps in between–but nothing seemed to really keep me happy. But for the past month, I've been trying something new, and it seems to be working.

Kiplinger Prints a Call for Help

I’m a firm believer in trying to find ways to save journalism in particular and good writing in general. I also think the Internet has had a caustic effect on both, for which we’re all paying a price in people’s overall difficulty communicating (clearly, that is, not in bulk or volume) and our increasing tendency as human beings to reduce all debates to attacks.

Six Simple Rules for Web Content

Rule #1: If the word you're using sends your editor, your copyeditor, or, worst of all, you to the dictionary, find a more common word.

Rule #2: If a piece of content contains jargon you wouldn't have known before you took your current job, remove it! (Exception: Hard-core technical writing, such as in medical or science fields, can use a very different vernacular from day-to-day English.)

Rule #3: Spell out all acronyms on first use except in cases where the acronym is the more commonly understood term. (For instance, IBM is OK. CRM is not.)