Nathaniel Ward

Do you really need a carousel on your homepage?

Most website carousels are added not because of a focus on the consumer but because of internal organizational politics, Brad Frost points out. His first rule for when to add a carousel: “Make sure you actually need one.”

Universities are now running money bombs

Columbia University ran a one-​​day online fundraising campaign that drew $6.9 million. It had all the hallmarks of a political-​​style money bomb:

  • A time-​​limited campaign to create urgency;
  • Matching gifts from major contributors to inspire donations;
  • A counter showing funds raised to date;
  • Donations before the formal campaign launch to generate momentum; and
  • Multi-​​channel promotion via e-​​mail, social media, and phones.

I’m particularly intrigued by the university’s use of a contest between its component schools to prompt donors to give more.

Incrementalism won’t fix your fundraising

Tom Belford:

Direct response fundraising is seriously broken. And incrementalism won’t fix it … indeed, might get in the way of fixing it.

We think fundraisers need to lift their sights above the weeds.

This is exactly right. Focus your fundraising strategy on long-​​term successes, not incremental improvements and minutiae.

Why you are personalizing your messaging?

Meghan Keaney Anderson warns against personalizing content just because you can: “Personalization without a good reason breaks the cardinal inbound rule: Marketing should be driven by the prospective customer’s needs. At its core, marketing should be useful.”

A sign you might need to rethink your web design

The Salvation Army's tips on how to navigate their website.

If you have to provide step-​​by-​​step instructions on how to navigate your web site, including a whole section devoted to your home page, perhaps you need to rethink how your site is designed.

Be careful what you learn from your tests

Pilot programs and other trials can often lead us to the wrong conclusions, Megan McArdle warns:

This is one more installment in a continuing series, brought to you by the universe, entitled “promising pilot projects often don’t scale”.  They don’t scale for corporations, and they don’t scale for government agencies.  They don’t scale even when you put super smart people with expert credentials in charge of them.  They don’t scale even when you make sure to provide ample budget resources.  Rolling something out across an existing system is substantially different from even a well run test, and often, it simply doesn’t translate.

The importance of color to web design

Tommi Kaikkonen explains why so many websites have light-​​colored backgrounds:

The whole Google network of websites and applications is based primarily on white. They aren’t very exciting or arousing to our senses. But what if they switched the background color to a different one, such as red? My guess is that while the sites might look more exciting, you wouldn’t be as comfortable using them. The color red causes a non-​​conditional physiological reaction, increasing your heart and respiratory rate. This reaction is something we humans are born with.

Diving into Obama’s online campaign

Inside the Cave

Engage’s Patrick Rufini has put together a thorough analysis of the Obama campaign’s technology efforts.

Drawing on data from public sources and private briefings, the 93-​​page report covers:

  • How the campaign structured itself to directly integrate its online and data analysis teams, including its hiring practices;
  • The innovative techniques the campaign used to measure, analyze, and model its supporters and the electorate;
  • What the campaign did to optimize its online fundraising, including A/​B testing, so it could meet its $1 billion fundraising goal;
  • The campaign’s use of custom-​​built technology tools and cloud-​​based services to give itself an edge over Mitt Romney; and
  • How social media and online advertising played a big role in reaching voters and bringing them to the polls.

The report (behind a registration wall) is definitely worth your time.