How to make people care about your boring content: election edition

Election day is one week away. That is a big deal for my clients. My clients are non-profits and advocacy groups. They work in a variety of issue areas ranging from criminal justice to energy to foreign policy. And each one of them has something to gain or something to lose in this election. So, it’s an important time to talk about the issues. You want your audience to understand how their vote affects policy and the work you’re doing. But if your issue area is boring or complicated, how do you get people to care? Let’s look at four tactics:
  1. Make it personal
  2. Find your niche
  3. Tell a story
  4. Be concrete
And, today, we’ll use tax policy as a case study. Because, if there is one thing I find boring and complicated, it’s taxes.  

Make it Personal

If you want me to care about tax policy, you have
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Email Marketing Platforms: Which One is For You?

Email is still important. Of all the marketing tools available to you, it’s got the highest return on investment. According to Salsa, if you spend $1, you’ll get $40 back. And, if you’re a nonprofit, it drives a third of your online fundraising revenue. Especially for a non-profit, choosing the right email platform is essential. But there are so many to choose from. Where do you start? How do you know which one is good for you? There are plenty of articles out there that will grade the top platforms. Like this one from PC Mag. Or this one from Top Ten Reviews. They do a great job of breaking down all the features available so you can easily compare. But I’m going to do something a little different. As someone who deals with this stuff everyday, I’m going to share some of my own real experiences with three
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MozCon 2016: 10 Key Takeaways

1. You can eat anything at Pike Place.

Turns out there is only one direct flight from DCA to SEA on a Sunday. And Katie was on it. She arrived in Seattle at 10am and had nothing to do. After a bit of googling, she booked an afternoon tour of Pike Place with Savor Seattle. Two or three bites at seven different restaurants equals an afternoon well spent. Turns out Pike Place has more than men throwing fish. It also has amazing fresh donuts, Filipino sausage that melts on your tongue, and clam chowder that lives up to a Boston girl’s standards. The highlight? The best Greek yogurt in the world at Ellenos. Once you taste their yogurt, you’ll never look at Chobani or Fage the same way again. yogurt chowder  

2. Claw machines are making a comeback.

Apparently. Because hundreds of adults lined up each day for a chance
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bigger is better
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Preventative maintenance: the key to keeping your website healthy and safe

Life is full of things we do because we have to. Trips to the DMV.  Jury duty.  Paying taxes. Dental appointments.  Oil changes.  These things are no fun.  But as painful and tedious as these tasks are, the consequences of not doing them are far worse.   Spending $50 and an hour of your life getting an oil change sucks.  Having your car break down and paying thousands for repairs sucks worse. In the web development world, updating your site’s software and server operating system are the equivalent of getting an oil change.  It is preventative maintenance done to mitigate the risk of future failure.  And given the lack of an immediate, tangible benefit, it is something that many are tempted to skip.   Most of the sites we maintain are run in LAMP/LEMP (Linux Apache/Nginx MySQL/MariaDB PHP) environments and powered by Drupal or WordPress.  We typically recommend clients perform
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How to generate a style guide using Hologram & Gulp

Why do I need a style guide?

Let’s be honest, I code differently than you.  And you code differently than the guy sitting next to you with Cheez-it crumb fingers playing Pokemon Go when no one is looking.  So how can we (front end developers) make sure we are providing consistent high quality code across a team?  Enter the style guide!  This post will walk you through how to setup a build system using Gulp.js, Sass and Hologram to generate a living style guide. Where we started When our Brick Factory team first began using style guides they consisted of 4-5 HTML files that we maintained separate from the site itself.  We would set up the style guide statically at the beginning of a project to make sure it contained all of the base components and HTML elements . This was all fine and dandy, but after a few
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How to create a members only section that people will actually use

If you work at a membership-based organization such as a professional society, trade association or nonprofit, the situation below may sound familiar:
Your members have periodically asked you to provide them with ways to collaborate with each other.  You decide to act on the request and build a new members only section on your website with frequently requested features such as a member directory, member profiles, message boards, group chat and document library.  You launch the new section and get good initial feedback.  But after a few weeks it becomes clear that no one is using the new tools and after a few few months it is a complete ghost town.
You bought the groceries and cooked the meal, but no one is coming for dinner. In my experience, this is the rule rather than the exception.  The features that sound the most exciting in theory are often quite different from
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How to avoid three common project management pitfalls

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how important it is for project and account managers at web development firms to have empathy.  If you are able to see the world as your client does, chances are you are going to do a great job for them.  You will be able to anticipate problems before they happen. As a follow up, I wanted to share some real-world examples of client communication problems we’ve run into at the Brick Factory and explain how they could have been prevented.  The underlying theme is that most issues can be prevented with good communication that comes from understanding.  

(1) Hidden Requirements

Project management problem You have been working on a site redesign project for three months and are a week from launch.  While reviewing the beta version of the site, the client points out that a members-only section that was present
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