Update Your Site Through Documents in Your Google Drive

Google Document imported

35+ Reasons for Abouts

1. Abouts are the most ubiquitous types of pages within websites

2. Abouts are the answers to questions we ask each other, recommendations we make, and the basis for information we share with each other

3. People expect accurate updates and information about organizations they care about very quickly

4. Abouts are important primary documents that tell about things in the words of its creator. Compare to secondary sources (Wikipedia), Google snippets and machine learning, and wikis and reviews written by third parties

5. Social media is one easy way to share updates about your organization, but there are drawbacks from relying on it heavily (like being unable to edit information reliably, or permanently delete incorrect information)

6. Social media updates are not archived by Google in a reliable way, social media archives are hard to browse, and again, social media records can be difficult to correct

7. If Google or Facebook has critical information about your organization wrong (hours, days, services, people, address, photos) you are at a disadvantage

8. Abouts bring people to your website, where you fully own the style and format, as opposed to a social media page. This gives you a chance to showcase your personality and vibe.

9. Social media sites downplay the link to the actual homepage in favor of their own pages (through making links hard to find, using homepage icons that are not oblique and not obvious, and more)

10. Social media sites are likely to be trusted less and less in the future as we discover more abuses of privacy

11. If a boycott of a social media platform occurs, your audience may suddenly find themselves cut out from one way you provide them updates

12. Without an effective About, creators lose their digital footprint and their ability to be found online.

13. In the new age of machine learning and AI, Abouts may be entirely predicted with little to no input from actual workers. If an intervention isn’t at least attempted now, it may soon be too late to go back

14. AI is being developed to determine the who/what/when/why of today’s world and real workers ought to be part of the conversation.

15. From Google Design, “Machine learning (ML) is the science of helping computers discover patterns and relationships in data instead of being manually programmed. It’s a powerful tool for creating personalized and dynamic experiences.” But what happens to your business if you are categorized and captured in a way you do not choose?

16. Search can and will get it wrong, and develop biases for some organizations over others - surfacing information about some, and not about others

17. With the rise of AI assistants and recommendation engines like Alexa and Siri (equipped with Alexa Skills and Siri Knowledge, respectively) it’s more important than ever for accurate information about an organization to easily surface, because these devices help people with their everyday choices, and will increasingly offer less options, and likely will begin have the final say for people on the go (starting like, “Siri, where should I order a pizza from tonight?)

18. Someone in your organization has the organizational knowledge and expertise to write a highly effective About… And it very well is not the most technically savvy person involved. Think of this as the information below the surface. We want to surface this information before this person exits your organization!

19. Despite some of the precautions we want to take with incorporating machine learning widely, it may be possible to wrangle Machine Learning to help less confident writers in organizations write, and edit, more descriptive, helpful Abouts, particularly as we connect to other organizations in other states and locations with similar businesses as yours, that you may not even know about.

20. A network of Abouts can help you write better Abouts.

21. A network of Abouts can help individuals who want to live local and support local find the Abouts of other organizations in their vicinity

22. Without a digital person on your team, it can be frustrating to keep an About up to date, but it is far time to move past the idea that accurate, institutional knowledge is the domain of the digital or technical person on your team.

23. Developers hesitate to recommend WordPress to many, because they anticipate the trouble people will have with updating their WordPress site (forgetfulness of the administrative interface, fear of breaking the site, etc)

24. Many workers in organization do not feel they are stakeholders in their organization’s website, despite knowing large amounts of information about their organization. They mentally disconnect aspects of the website from their job duties.

25. Not all workers (especially particular demographics) are ready to trade brand-new productivity tools like Trello and Asana (that could at least get their institutional knowledge or insight “nearer” to the website) with the tools they are familiar with (like the Microsoft Suite)

26. A new tool called About allows anyone to update WordPress content through Google Docs

27. The Google Suite has much in common with the Microsoft Suite, and is an ideal text composition tool even if it is not yet part of your work process (it is free and does not even require registration to collaborate)

28. Updating your About in Google Docs is much easier than navigating the WordPress admin panel

29. Increased participation by more website stakeholders leads to more important information and updates you can use on your About page, and within your website

30. Google Docs introduces real-time collaboration and sharing features that eliminates updating a page “by telephone” to a technical person. An entire About page can be fleshed up with a group all working in one session.

31. We propose not only that Google Docs updates About content, or any other text content on the site, we propose our working integration of Google Sheets to dynamically update charts and tables, and Google Slides to update images in your organization’s photo slider, and many more integrations that makes it simple for all increased website stakeholders to make meaningful updates with their first-person organizational knowledge and experience

32. Organizations of all stripes deserve sustainable futures in this rapidly changing web

33. Delete your About, and other content, whenever you want (like some do with their Twitter and Instagram posts)

34. Tailor your About for when different groups will view your page on different days (like if you are traveling, and plan to mention your website to different stakeholders)

35. Capture the zeitgeist of the moment in your About (what is it about your small business or company, or town, that people are talking about on social media and other outlets? This is a major point we will soon describe more -- people notice these “zeitgeists” in their towns and places they explore (think about the cultural explosion of people looking to dictionary.com as the linguistic zeitgeist that helps explains events and politics of the day.) This is why we take photos of similar things, whether we are always uploading them to social media or not -- this is cultural information that ought to be incorporated in the writing of Abouts)

Google Spreadsheet imported

The following shortcode will import the spreadsheet and use the content of the first row as the column headings.

Types of OrganizationsCurrent ConundrumCurrent Site StakeholdersNew StakeholdersThird Parties and/or Limitations
Academic departmentsDepartment sites serve a multitude of purposes including PR for faculty, and descriptions of programs and courses offered by the department. A bottleneck occurs when many stakeholders cannot make updates as needed, and as often as they like.The closest position to a technical support or social media employeeAll faculty control their own pages; all staff control their own domains of expertiseThe sole individuals with proficiency in the CMS the University prefers (WordPress, Drupal, etc.)
Public farms and farmstandsSmall, often family-run small businesses in rural spaces, face challenges because visitors do not pass by these locations daily, must rely on word-of-mouth, and/or Google search results and Facebook pagesUnlikely to have technical staff members, site stakeholders may consult with a design firm for a one-time design engagement, and then assume responsibilites for the site's CMS (often WordPress). They may also be advised to keep up with weekly blogs, or timely social media content on Facebook and Twitter.All employees of the farmFacebook Pages, ranking in Google search (and performance in reviews), strategies such as regularly blog posts aren't nearly as helpful in helping businesses become found as agencies might suggest
CampgroundsFrequently static, out-of-date pages, these sites rarely have the ability to highlight the sort of seasonal activities the Google-searching crowds like to see when deciding when and where to visit. Small staffing, and higher priorities, again precludes places like these from hiring technical staffAll employees, anyone who can operate Word or Excel, which surely they must do for some essential work alreadyOften not even registering well on Facebook pages or Google search, again I obsere one-time design projects, that may or may not have any later support
Small picturesque towns & Vacation townsHere, we get into entire small economies that are largely supported by seasonal tourism from monied outsiders. In order to decide on locations to visit, increasingly people accustomed to planning all aspects of their trip aided by the internet, cross broad swaths of the country off their potential visitation lists because of outdated websites. So it's not just one part of town that needs to have better, timely updates, the entire network needs to be equipped with better AboutsStakeholders span from municipal employees, to those operating small restaurants, gift shops, excursion and adventure places, and other vacation-time curiousities (who know and love their small towns, but are unlikely to have technical employees, if scattered social media workers)All employees, anyone who can operate Word or Excel, which surely they must do for some essential work alreadyVaries from business to busines, no one model, which is fine, but increasingly we see sites powered by WordPress, created through limited engagement with graphic design firms who do not keep up with website updates
Non-franchise Restaurants & BarsSpecials change daily and weekly, happy hours are essential knowledge, but many visitors looking to eat and drink well cannot find this information when they visit these websitesChefs, cooks, bartenders and managers know everything about the day-to-day operations of a place, including the specials and deals that will get people through the door. But rarely does this translate to them navigating a CMS to keep visitors up-to-date on the latest decisions. Anyone working on the website would be able update the essential knowledge of specials, the latest chef hired, happy hour time periods, and moreSocial media does not reliably appear in social media results, and old updates cannot be pruned effectively. There is a discovery problem with social media too, if your customers do not already know and like you (and if you are not paying for advertisements)
Youth-oriented organizations & Co-opsWithin youth groups and co-ops, you have an abundance of people with passion willing to volunteer where necessary. But you still may not have a technical employee (who remains in the group) or the wherewithall to organize large-scale trainings. A simple approach to updates is needed.Stakeholders may be limited due to fear of breaking the site, or being part of the cohort that comissioned the development of the site through a firm or agencyAll youth and/or co-op members with time to give making updatesUpdates may be outsourced to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other scattered social media accounts. The problem here, again, relies in trust of these platforms, different capabilities for editing and archiving of this information, and the handiness for, especially grant-based organizations, for recent updates to be in one domain, owned by the organization, for potential funders to view
Law firms, & heath/human service agenciesUsually static websites, old, that offers some information about services offered, but is by no means exhaustive (often because the people with the knowledge are working in the community or courtroom)Current site stakeholders are extremely limited, these are some of the more static pages we've seenAll employees, anyone who can operate Word or Excel, which surely they must do for some essential work alreadySocial media is not a good home for these types of organizations, but specific rating websites exists, especially in professions that are serviced by licensed and accredited boards
More soon...