What's a billboard got to do with it?

Posted on October 28, 2019

I know, I know … the majority of special districts aren’t spending money on billboard advertising. So why am I writing about billboards?

Our online attention span is now hovering around 6 to 8 seconds, and that just happens to be the amount of time a driver has to process the information on a billboard while driving down the freeway. People have been studying the effectiveness of billboard advertising for much longer than the internet has been around - so if you’re trying to get the attention your district deserves, these takeaways can be really helpful.

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Tips for getting the positive attention your district deserves

Posted on October 7, 2019

[This is the first of a series of posts on the subject.]

We often speak with folks at special districts who feel that “promoting” the district (whether via a website, social media, or other means) is unnecessary because - and this is a direct quote: “We aren’t competing with anyone.”

Nothing could be further from the truth! Educating the public about the important work your district does is vital for a number of reasons.

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Using Chrome Lighthouse to test your site for accessibility

Posted on September 6, 2019

Creating websites that are accessible to visitors with disabilities can be challenging, especially for developers building one-off / standalone sites. Most websites that were built even a year ago are likely not accessible, and many of the content management systems out there aren't accessible out-of-the-box, so to speak. If your website partner wasn't specifically told to build your website in an accessible way, it's likely that your site may have a few issues. Accessible websites aren't easy to build!

If you're wondering if your site is accessible, you can get an idea by using an automated scanner. Automated testing won't surface every possible issue - to catch everything you really need to have testing done by professionals using assistive devices - but it will check the basics (and the most obvious), giving you an overall idea of how you're doing.

So how do you test your site yourself?

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Website Bootcamp: a better special district website with very little sweat

Posted on June 3, 2019

When we speak to special districts about their websites, we often hear familiar complaints:

• We're too busy doing our real jobs! (Providing water, sewer, fire protection, etc.)
• It's too hard! (Technology is confusing.)
• It's too expensive! (Most vendors charge a big up front fee to build it.)
• Nobody cares! (Our community doesn't give a damn what we're up to.)

The truth is, special districts - possibly more than any other type of organization - need to tell their stories, and there is no better, or less expensive, way to do so than on the web.

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Website bootcamp module 8: What's happening on your site? Google knows.

Posted on February 20, 2019

If you've made it this far through the modules, you're obviously putting some effort into your district's website. Wouldn't it be nice to know how much that effort is paying off? This module is a brief introduction on how to use Google Analytics to track visitors' behavior on your website so that you can learn what's popular, and where you should focus time going forward. This content is excerpted from a longer talk and full length webinar. 

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Website bootcamp module 7: Making your website Section 508 compliant (aka legal!)

Posted on February 13, 2019

This module will explain the requirements of Section 508 (which align with the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines - or WCAG - as of Jan. 2018) that apply to website accessibility for visitors with disabilities, and share testing resources you can use to check your site. This introductory content is excerpted from a longer talk and full length webinar we've hosted.

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Website bootcamp module 6: How social should districts be?

Posted on February 6, 2019

In this module we give an overview of social media platforms (including what age groups are using which) and provide tips for leveraging social media to benefit your special district and engage your communities. We also discuss the potential pitfalls for special districts and give examples of some social media "fails" and policies you may want to put into place before diving in. This content is excerpted from a longer talk we've given at various special district conferences.


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Website bootcamp module 5: Finding content matters!

Posted on January 30, 2019

It doesn’t make sense to bother writing content if no one ever reads it. In this module we’ll go over some guidelines that will ensure your content is found, including how to make searchable PDFs, and explain why it's a bad idea to bury the "pay your bill" information on the Finance Department page. This content was pulled from a longer presentation on Writing for the Web.

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Website bootcamp module 4: Writing for the web

Posted on January 23, 2019

This module will provide a lot of practical advice on how to write effective content for your website. As our online attention spans get shorter, being able to write in a way that people will pay attention to becomes even more important. This is particularly important for special districts, who often use their websites to convey critical information to their constituents. This content is a briefer version of the full talk we give at various special district association conferences.

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Website bootcamp module 3: Moving pictures - video resources for special districts

Posted on January 16, 2019

If you're considering using video to stream meetings or promote your district, this module can help! We discuss some of the things to consider (like closed captioning for accessibility), and various options that are available. This brief overview was pulled from our longer talk titled Writing for the Web.

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