Home / User Experience / Heads Down for Alumni End Users

  • Nick Zeckets
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  • Advancement - alumni website - measuring engagement - QuadWrangle -

010-hard-workOver the past couple of months, we’ve been quiet here. We’re not ignoring you. Quite the contrary. We’ve been heads down building some big, big things that our community has been asking for. This isn’t a pitch blog. Those are worthless. We’ll tell you all about that new stuff soon, but there are some things about head down work, as a culture, that I wanted to talk a bit about.

The very first thing that stands out to us about this last couple of months is that focus on the end user, your alumni, is everything. It always has been everything so when we get into a pickle – do we do feature A or feature B? – we just snap back to alumni. We ask them questions. We look at what they’re doing. We look at what’s going to make them happy.

Our Occam’s razor question is: will an alumnus thank their alma mater for this? If not, why would we ever waste time on it? Why would YOU waste time on it? I have some ideas on why there’s a lot of non-additive digital junk out there:

  1. We’ve been told we need it: Leadership could have said so. Maybe our own alumni said so after looking at another school’s online presence. Or, likely, a vendor did a bang up job of marketing.
  2. Busy: We all have this issue. When we’re so busy that we don’t leave our desks for lunch, we miss dinner with our families, and we neglect our own health, we make bad decisions. Not only can exercise make us smarter, but that break allows our minds to process information. Most of our best technology at QuadWrangle is envisioned during or directly after exercise. Give yourself an opportunity to replace busyness with real productivity. Your work and your body will thank you for it.
  3. Lack of a digital framework: This might come across as crazy given that one of our solutions is mobile apps for alumni, but when we hear a school say, “we want a mobile app,” I want to know why. Why do you need an app? That’s not really what you want. What you really want is deeper engagement, a better understanding of your constituents, and/or increased giving. Those are fundamental goals and, yes, sometimes an app can do a great job towards those goals. But what about better emails? Or better giving landing pages? Digital is not the wild west. It’s just like anything else – it has to build back to your core goals.

All in all, ‘new’ is not necessarily the answer and the arms race for ‘new,’ I’d argue, undermines success. Again, we’re innovating here and our average alumni app user consumes 3,000% more content than alumni on any other channel, but we didn’t start out saying, “let’s build apps!” That’s not a thing. Websites aren’t a thing, either. They can be amazing assets, but I’d venture a highly charged guess that a lot of shops could pretty much turn their website off and nothing would change. Crazy? Maybe. The idea is that you have to be critical of your own suppositions. We are.

Would love folks’ comments and experiences – either here, by email (nzeckets@quadwrangle.com) or call.

Nick is the CEO and co-founder of QuadWrangle with a deep background in media modeling and digital engagement with a passion for philanthropy. He hails from Georgia and is a proud Arizona Wildcat.

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