Content Organization for OSA

Step One: Understanding the current site building blocks

Here I mapped out the audience, potential actions and existing content. 

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Step Two: Mapping out the proposed structure makes sure I have accounted for all the pieces.

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Step Three: Trying a few potential organizational schemes helps to break out of the existing structure to see how else we might approach the content.

This first one is by content type, which is useful for users who know specifically that the information they are looking for comes in a specific format. In Google Analytics I saw that publications were very popular - it seems like OSA is a destination for reports on a number of topics. To support that behavior I used this organization for part of the nav bar.

Content by type

Content by type

Next I binned the content by its location on a timeline. This method helps delineate how content shifts in relevance for the user and how it is created by OSA. It was useful for coming up with the newsletter/blog/nav bar process.

Content by timeframe or frequency of refresh

Content by timeframe or frequency of refresh

Next I split up the content by what action might be taken with it. I decided to use different verbs than you are currently using so that we could think without any existing boxes. Here's how I would 'define' the verbs and allocate their audience:

Experiment (researchers): discovering new ways to practice various activities with organic seeds 

Practice (farmers & gardeners): using proven and documented techniques to achieve specific outcomes with organic seeds

Understand (advocates, everyone): learning the general issues, definitions and news surrounding organic seeds. 

Connect (everyone): getting in touch or involved with an organization or person.

Content by usage or action

Content by usage or action

 

Step Four: Putting the parts together

I realized there were some patterns in the separation of content by timeframe and by action, so I put them into a matrix. In red you can see the rough mapping to the existing categories along the top and to the timeframes along the side.

We talked a bit about the difference between the newsletter and the blog, I thought a simple way to clearly delineate them was by timing - the newsletter 'announces' upcoming items, the blog 'archives' what is current and anything you want to live on forever goes into the nav bar. This is rather theoretical, so we can talk more about this and what it would mean in reality!

Combining action and timeframe

Combining action and timeframe

 

Step Five: Potential layout

Here I made some preliminary decisions on how to group the content. For continuity in the process, I stuck with my action types, which I don't expect you to do! There are three sections I would suggest using the toolkit feature to clearly expose content sub-categories. I also listed content types under 'Practice' but I would imagine there to be a 'Practice' toolkit-style page where you can also look at all the content by subject area. 'Understand' may use the toolkit feature for when a user clicks on the main nav instead of an item from the list. I just realized I didn't draw in the list items for Scientific Literature or OSA projects, but those would both live in the 'Experiment' group. I separated 'Connect' from the last step into the Seed Network/Community list you provided and put the others (Contact, Donate, Partners) as static pages.

 

First draft wireframe. 

First draft wireframe. 

Survey Response

For the sake of transparency, I want share my own responses to the introduction survey I have made for everyone interested in joining The Found. I hope it both gives you some insight into what I am looking for as well as why I am doing it and who I am. I look forward to reading your responses!

 

PAGE 1: So you are interested in The Found. I have some questions for you!

Q1: Tell me about yourself.

  • What unique gift will you bring to The Found? I am like the sandpaper you strike a match on - I catalyze fire!
  • What do you hope The Found will bring to you? A community of like-minded people
  • What skills can you help others to develop? General business thinking: strategy, marketing, finance. Start-up operations. Balancing work & life. Finding and pursuing a dream.
  • What skills do you wish to develop? art making, leadership
  • What do you love to do? Make things happen, be outside in the sunshine, have great conversations
  • If you had the tools and the time, would (or do) you enjoy fixing your own car? Yes!
  • Do you like to be involved in making the food you eat? At which point of the process? All parts, from building the garden to doing the dishes.
  • What floats your boat? What sinks it? Connection, good food, beautiful space floats my boat. Being physically uncomfortable sinks it.
  • Would you consider your life balanced? If not, what is it missing? If so, tell me a little about it. Yes, I have created a life of flow and balance in all aspects - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social.

Q2: Tell me about your work.

  • What work do you do? Business design
  • In which industry do you operate? All, but mostly social, media, technology
  • Why did you chose this work? I love computers and people
  • What is your vision for your work? To do meta-business design - helping people design the businesses that are designing products & services
  • How long have you been doing this work? Various components of it for 9 years, business design as a cohesive service for 1.5 years
  • How long have you been working for yourself? 1.5 years
  • What about this work brings you the most joy? Seeing visions come to fruition
  • What do you want to change about your work? I want a place where culture supports creation to show how important it is

Q3: Financials.

  • How long has your work been profitable? If it isn't, how long until it will be? For about 8 months
  • What is your average monthly revenue? (For the next few questions, put expected amounts if you aren't yet fulling up and running. Please note that in your answer.) $3,500
  • How many hours do you work to bring in that revenue? 35
  • What is your average monthly expenditure? $2,000
  • What is your hourly rate as an individual? $100
  • What percentage of your profit would you be willing to give in exchange for work space? In other words, what is the value of comfortable, productive space for you? 30%

Q4: Needs: please share more about what kind of space you want. We have plans for a variety of different uses, from office space to a workshop to an art studio to a full kitchen. These spaces will also vary in privacy, from totally open to totally individual.

  • What type of space(s) are you looking for? Please share the important, defining characteristics of your ideal space(s). A work space for both computer work and art-making. It needs to have light and air as well as quiet
  • How much space do you need? maybe 100 square feet
  • What do you plan to do in the space(s)? Work on a computer making sound art and running The Found, have meetings, make art (drawings, paintings, collage), dance
  • About how many hours per week or month (note which) would you like to use space? 30 hours per week
  • How many people will you be bringing regularly (colleagues)? How about customers? Any other kinds of guests or collaborators? None regularly, maybe a guest or two per week for a few hours meetings or brainstorming sessions

Q6: Tell me about yourself and how you would like to be contacted.

  • Individual's name Tiffany J. Hopkins
  • Business name (if different) The Found
  • City/Town Oakland
  • Email Address tiffany@thefound.org
  • Phone Number 53061506008

Next Steps

Early this year I started doing Next Steps sessions with a handful of entrepreneurs. The idea is to provide is to quickly answer the question, "what do I do next?", with one simple action to take after the session is over. You can do your own Next Steps session, starting by answering the following questions with no more than a sentence each:

  1. What problem does your company solve?
  2. How does your company solve that problem?
  3. How does your company make money?
  4. Who are your competitors?
  5. Who makes up your team?
  6. What is your goal for the company?
  7. What is your personal goal in your work with the company?

Now as you look over your answers, pull out the most important answers and start a list from #1 on down, as many as you have. Which of these goals, organizations, people, skills, products, etc. do you have? Which do you need most? Take that top item and make a new list - what do you need in order to get it or make it better? If you haven't yet come up with something you can do right now, call me and we will find one together!

The Money Divide

On Why Reciprocity and Negotiation are Critical for Creatives and Businesses Alike

 

One of the foundational tenants to Hopi and Incan society is that of reciprocity: all actions must be done in a way that ensures an equal balance of energy between the actors. In the modern day Incan tribe of Q’ero, when a person wants a blessing or ceremony from a shaman, they must provide a llama in return. In Hopi, if one goes to speak with the elders, offerings of tobacco and meat must be given. These things are not supplied with the intention of getting a good omen or better advice, but as an exchange of what one person has (material goods) with what another has (spiritual guidance).

 

In our society, businesses are good at this. They tell customers what they have to offer and what amount of money must be given to receive it. Its up to consumers to decide if the price is worth it – remember money is a physical representation of a person’s time and energy. Creatives, however, have a much harder time doing this. It is often because finding the right audience is very difficult with few pieces of highly original work. Yet even when a customer is found, it can be a bittersweet process to decide on a value for one’s creation. When an artist, musician, writer, healer, even an intern, community volunteer or anyone else who sits outside of the tight bounds of modern commerce provides something, it is critical to understand the time, energy and materials that went in to the creation as well as the value provided to the consumer. Just like for a business, these two values need to match up in order for the provider to be able to continue their process.

 

Sometimes the exchange is non-monetary: references and experience for an intern, exposure for a new musician. What is important is that both parties feel they have been adequately compensated for their efforts. This means having an open conversation about the trade, which requires each person to understand and communicate his or her own values and expectations. This is the most basic concept behind all negotiations.

 

And how does one value such intangible, personal phenomena as expression, exposure or experience? There are a few ways. You can try a bottom up approach, starting with the tangibles – hours spent, materials consumed, funds spent (on such things as food, rent, etc. that supported the process). Or you can try top down, asking what similar things others have valued or what it is worth to the other party. Then you simply have to leave it to your gut. Do you feel like what is being offered is fair? Does it leave you with the energy and resources to repeat the process, hopefully making it a little easier the next time?

On Making Things Happen

I spent some time thinking about the basic building blocks for business for a talk to the film students at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I wanted to teach these aspiring artists about business in a way that empowered them to take control of the entire creative process - which at one time or another will inevitably include money and other people, two areas that have often clouded and stunted art (and many other creation processes). 

So, how do people create things? Works of art, delicious meals, stable relationships, booming businesses. Going from an idea into physical reality is not a trivial task: this is the essence of being human. The ability to make something not only helps us feel alive, it is literally all there is to do these days, now that we aren’t exactly fighting for survival any more. At this point, there is actually quite a bit of pressure to be making things. For me, that has introduced complication to what should simply be my natural activity.

A big part of the problem is that the practice of creation has been segmented for specialists. My hope is that with a clarification of the process people can better understand which parts of creation are right for them and why we get stuck on others.

We will start with a linear process, for simplicity:

Yes, I draw with a pencil on paper then take a picture with my phone. Is it pretty? No. Is it fast? Yes. Does it work? You tell me!

Yes, I draw with a pencil on paper then take a picture with my phone. Is it pretty? No. Is it fast? Yes. Does it work? You tell me!

Although it gets much more interesting when you take that line and connect it into a circle:

This one is a little better, right?

This one is a little better, right?

This is not only useful for illustrating my purpose, but in reality very few things are ‘done’, it is much more likely that once you start a creation you will continue to iterate on it for a very long time.

Now on top of this cycle, I will superimpose three sections:

Ok, maybe I need to redo this one:)

Ok, maybe I need to redo this one:)

These are groupings by the skills necessary to complete the contained steps and you will notice they encompass three different types of professions. Here is where the complications lie – these days most people specialize in one part or another and not only lack the skills for the others, but also feel like they should be left to specialists. I would like to dispel that myth immediately – everyone can do all parts of this process if they so desire. There are some skills that may need to be picked up if you received a typical Western education (such as financial literacy or basic PR), or if you have some money you can also very easily outsource these parts. Making smart decisions about doing it yourself or hiring others is often one of the most important parts in seeing a vision through to reality.

Walk yourself through a past project that you are especially proud of – even something simple like a dinner party or selling an old book on eBay. Think about which parts you really enjoyed, which you struggled through or could have done better. Then focus on something you want to achieve in the future – which stage are you at? And most importantly, what do you need to do to move on to the next?

What Do You REALLY Want To Do?

I read Edward M. Hallowell’s Shine this weekend and it reminded me of the cornerstones of job satisfaction - something I have been thinking about since I had my first job about twenty years ago and actively experimenting with for the past year. The book is written as a tool for managers to help their teams thrive, but it provides the scientific basis for my own theories on why and how we choose the work we do.

Hallowell’s five steps to excellence are based on his more than thirty years in psychiatry, coaching, consulting and research. They are incredibly important for everyone to understand – they remind us that professional success is a complex achievement. While I want to talk about the first step – choosing the right field, industry, role, geography, etc. – just picking the correct work for yourself is not enough. You must also go through the other four steps: connecting with the company you work for; playing or being engaged in imaginative aspects of your work; grappling with the inherent challenges to overcome them and grow; and shining or being rewarded for your successes.

Back to that first step. Hallowell developed a series of 20 questions to help managers assess the best roles, projects and tasks for their employees. I have reformatted it and suggest trying it for yourself. It is a great tool for those considering changing jobs, starting a company or otherwise striking off onto a new path. On one hand it will help clarify what is best for you to do and on the other may help you realize what you are doing isn’t the inherent problem – perhaps it is a company culture, remuneration or other issue. Good luck with it! Answering the questions is not easy - it takes a bit of soul searching to decide what we really want, a bit of critical thinking to figure out what we're really good at. Comments about your experience are much appreciated.

Download the Hallowell Job Satisfaction Self-Assessment questionnaire.

Dr. Hallowell's Website

Website for Shine

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