In the last week we have seen a lot about world and local financial markets - they dropped drastically but has already picked up some of that again. Have you tried researching information about this situation, either in general or for something specific?
I was looking at various superannuation sites yesterday to see what they were telling members about their investments and was amazed that not all listed a date for the news item they had published.
One in particular started their article with “Last week was a tumultuous one for world share markets” and finished with a footnote “*SR50 Balanced fund SuperRatings Crediting Rate Survey, June 2011″.
So was it about things that happened last week (i.e. early August 2011) or some other week since June 2011?
I’m fairly confident the article went live in the last 48 hours so presumably it is about recent developments. But what if I hadn’t looked at their site until next week – would the data still be relevant or useful?
Yes, putting dates on websites can date them fast (the ‘last updated’ reference on many pages is the prime example of that) but current news items are the exception.
I have often read blog posts and wondered when it was written; “new version of ABC will be released next month” and “our web visitors doubled in the past 12 months” carry more weight when I understand ‘next month’ and ‘past 12 months’. A small note after the post is fine (WordPress does it by default and that works for me!)
People need to have a context, a reference point for the information. Especially for things like financial markets which change so rapidly at times.
And just to be clear, this is being written on 10 August 2011!
What, if any, pages on your site do you add a date to? If not all pages are the same, why do you add dates to some but not others?
I just followed a link to a site about a small business expo/summit to see if it would be of value to me.
The link showed a list of presenters but where and when were more important questions for me. Fair enough, I followed a link so I didn’t go to an introductory page so clicking to another page is reasonable.
“Where is event” is in their menu which is fantastic so I now know it is in Sydney.
It took 5 more clicks (including clicking on the “program” link in the menu – the program just lists times on a Wednesday…) before I found it is on July 27. To be fair, I then checked the home page but it isn’t listed there either.
It’s a pity an event supported by big business and with Government speakers can’t make it easy to find critical details on their website, but it’s another lesson for those of us responsible for communicating to clients and prospective clients – identify the key information and make it easy to find.
Making key data easy to find is more than putting in on one page, too – if people enter the site at different pages or read a few pages before looking for the key data, you want them to find it easily too.
So include key data on every page (in a footer or a graphic for example) or have a clear menu item on every page.
What is key data? Well here are some examples:
How do you react when a website lacks (or hides, deliberately or by poor thought) key details you are after? And, no, I am not going to that expo (although not entirely because the date was obscured).
Just a quick reminder to keep things up to date – or avoid anything that makes the date obvious.
Today I heard a radio ad offering 10% off everything until the end of March. Two days ago, that would have been an effective call to action; today (being the 1st April) means I have 12 months to take up the offer.
My assumption is that the business didn’t mean the ad to be run today and don’t really want to run their sale for 12 months! Whether it was error or belatedly providing the required airtime by the radio station, it is a good reminder to check dates carefully!
Have you come across any funny faulty dates?
Do you manage a lot of documents? Do you worry about old versions getting confused with new versions?
This is why you see a document code on many documents, especially those from major organisations. They make it easy to tell one version from another at a glance – this is known as version control and can save a lot of problems.
There is no central system for giving documents codes – each business makes up its own system and introduces it as it is the business who needs to use the codes.
While there is no single coding system, most codes will include the date as that is the simplest way to determine how old a document is.
Other than that, it is up to you how the code is created. The complexity of your code will also depend on the number of documents you deal with – a few documents can be numbered 1 to 20 for example, but a large number of documents may be better divided into types and then given a number (e.g. F1 is form 1 and L24 is letter 24).
Here are a few tips from the systems I have created and used in the past:
A media release is generally an announcement of something you consider newsworthy enough the media may tell your story. So when do you tell the media?
There is no simple answer, but there are some guidelines depending on what type of release you are sending out.
If your release is announcing something that has happened (e.g. “we won an award”)
If your release is about an upcoming event (e.g. “our school fete is on the 9th May”)
In addition, if your release is about the launch of a new website
If your release isn’t time critical, then you can send it at any time of course! But I would question its newsworthiness if it really has no time frame attached..
The timing doesn’t have to be hard – just use a little common sense really.