Archive for December, 2009

Another way to get a cheap website…

December 22, 2009

I was poking around in the NYC Big Apps website looking at all the gorgeous applications created from NYC government data (yummy), when I saw this real-time traffic application for the iPhone.

It was developed by the Web Academy, which offers free, 100-percent-online web design classes and free website development for non-profits and small businesses.

It may be that you get what you pay for. However, many of my clients paid lots of money for sites that they didn’t like and that I had to help them redo later. Better to make all your mistakes for free, eh?

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How to get grants from elected officials

December 21, 2009

At a Dec. 10, 2009, talk sponsored by the Staten Island NFP Association, NY State Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer pulled back the curtain on the process by which elected officials make grants to non-profits.

She introduced the talk by saying that, before she joined the Assembly, she had experience applying for government grants as  legal director for My Sister’s Place, a non-profit in New York that helps victims of domestic violence. When she was elected to the State Assembly, however, she said she found she was spending an enormous amount of her time answering questions from non-profits about state funding.

In response, she decided to hold meetings for non-profits about getting federal, state, and city money. Ours was her second meeting, after the Brooklyn meeting (her district covers parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island). (more…)

“How much should I pay for a website?”

December 18, 2009

One of the organizations I belong to is the Staten Island Netpreneurs, which is a great technical resource for local small businesses. (For those of you who can’t make it to Staten Island once a month, Viv wrote a piece about starting your own group.)

In our monthly meetings, we start with a talk, usually by a member, about some e-commerce problem or idea, and end with questions from the floor, answered from the floor. Each meeting is about a dozen people.

This Wednesday, one of the members, the owner of a spa, asked how much he should have to pay to get a website set up. There were two contradictory answers and then a third answer,  a combination of the two.

Answer 1: Set up a blog. Blogs are free and they’re easy to set up, design, and run. You don’t need any special skills.

Answer 2: Don’t set up a blog. A blog only works if you add to it regularly. But as you add material, whatever you wrote earlier gets pushed to the bottom of the page or into a monthly archive. So if you have a particular message (mission statement, list of services, etc.) that you want readers to see as soon as they come to your site, it’s invisible after a month or so.

Answer 3: Set up a blog, see what works, and then create a website based on what you’ve learned. You can find out what appeals to your readers by the responses you get and the clicks reported for each post, and you may also find out what’s most important to you as you write about your business or organization. Then, by the end of six months or a year, you’ll know what should be on your real, fixed website.

The hardest and most time-consuming part of designing a website is figuring out what you want, and the less clear you are, the more expensive the process is, since your designer has to revise and re-revise the site.  (As a web designer, this is a process I know all too well.)

The spa owner is probably going to go with answer #3: set up a blog and create a website later when he knows what works. No doubt he’ll be our guest speaker in a few months.

Gen Y Guys and the Colbert Report

December 4, 2009

Check out this piece on the Museum Audience Insight blog about the Colbert Report and Generation Y guys, One Man’s Crusade: Stephen Colbert’s quest to save the Generation Y male from himself

There has been a lot of press about Colbert’s and Jon Stewart’s effects on the last presidential election, but this is the first I’ve seen about effects on cultural institutions: Colbert doubled visitation at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for a few weeks. See what you think.