I had a vision a few years ago, while in a Kundalini yoga class. It wasn’t like an other-wordly revelation or anything, just an image that came into my head as we were in the meditation portion of the class. It was an image that simultaneously felt so profoundly truthful, while making little logical sense.
I was moved to write a letter to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony and subsequent questioning, on Thursday, September 26, 2018. I wrote this letter after she left the hearing, in the early afternoon, and sent it to her, in care of her lawyer. I am so glad that I wrote this before I saw the second half of the hearing — because it’s a capsule in time of what I felt after seeing her part of the day. Things certainly shifted after that, and have many times since.
Friday night, September 28th, I pulled together a Solidarity Gathering at South Church in Portsmouth, NH. I was compelled to hold space for everyone feeling like they needed community. Only a few people showed up, but many more expressed gratitude for knowing that it was happening at all. It felt important, urgent. It was totally necessary for me. We lit candles, we shared our stories, we shared our feelings, we talked about how we could change our culture from perpetuating the dangerous circumstances that make situations like these all too common. It was healing.
The word “feminist” is on my business card. Not as a title I’m using to define myself, but because it’s in the name of my business. Even with its recent rise to acceptance in mainstream popular culture, the word “feminist” still prompts startled reactions most times I hand someone my card. Since I’m so frequently reminded of the baggage of this word, I’m also increasingly aware of my responsibility to define, and demonstrate by my actions, what I mean when I use the word “feminist.”
Feminist theorist bell hooks (no, the lowercase of her name isn’t a typo – she consciously declines to capitalize her name in favor of putting the emphasis on her ideas) defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” Defining feminism as a commitment to end oppression is notable in that it is not (as it is sometimes misperceived to be) seeking to reverse it. Taking power from one group and giving it to another doesn’t solve the problem – it simply perpetuates domination and systemic injustice.
Feminist poet Audre Lorde wrote, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” The goal of a hooks and Lorde kind of feminist movement is to dismantle systemic power structures altogether in favor of equity for everyone – all genders, all identities.
If all of the page copy on your website disappeared, leaving only your menu navigation items, would people still get a good idea of what you do? How you name and structure your menu items (“nav” items, for those in the web biz) should tell your story.
Depending on what type of website you have, the primary goal may differ. Whatever the primary goal of your site is should be reflected in the taxonomy (or naming convention), order and heirarchy of your primary navigation and menu items.
The Menu Basics: From About to Contact
The most common menu items include such staples as About, Contact, Team/Who We Are, Resources, etc. — and for a company business page which is mostly what we used to refer to as a “brochure” site, these may still be the best menu items. If your site exists mostly for people to get to know you on their way to becoming a customer, client or fan, this may be enough.
Menu Taxonomy: How to Write Easily Navigated Menu Items
Reading across your menu bar should make sense, and should not change tenses.
Going for simplicity? Try “Team,” “Services,” “About” and “Contact.”
Want to get a little more friendly and conversational about introducing yourself? Your team page could be called “Who We Are,” and your services page “What We Do.” Your About page can become “Why We Do It” or “How We Do It” but is probably best left as “About” unless your About page specifically outlines your “why” or “how” or is more about your history (“How We Started” or “Origin Story”).
Starting with verbs that a site visitor can take? If your team page is named “Meet Our Team,” then your services page should be called “Work With Us.”
Pro tip: while it may be tempting to get cute or creative in your page names, straightforward is the best way to write your menu items. Trust me, I love a great pun, but potentially confusing a visitor who came to your footwear site with “A-Boot!” will likely backfire when, instead of the boots they were looking for, they get “gotcha-ed” by your hilarious about page. There are plenty of opportunities to show off your personality in the site copy, if you so wish. The navigation menus are neither the time nor the place for such shenanigans!
Effective Ecommerce Menus
Ecommerce sites should make one thing really easy: shopping (commerce!). This doesn’t mean that one menu item should say “Shop” — rather, your primary nav menu on an ecommerce site should be the top 3-5 categories that people are searching for when visiting your site. Some retailers split these top items by gender or department, others by item type, genre or attribute (size/color, etc.). The way you decide to categorize your top menu categories will vary depending on the types of products you’re selling, and how your best customers typically shop.
The Best Blog Menus
If your site is primarily a blog, your most popular categories should make up the majority of your primary menu. If your blog is super populated (like, say, HuffPo), you’ll probably need a mega-menu or at least a robust drop-down menu, for the many subcategories in your blog topic hierarchy.
These are just a few top considerations for a menu that clearly communicates your core business services to your next potential client. Next time: taxonomy for your blog categories!
Commander Emily Bassett of the soon-to-be commissioned USS Manchester, was honored at the Women in Leadership: Next Generation luncheon at Strawbery Banke. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig was also a guest of honor, and the two both shared inspiring words to the local women leaders and their young women guests at the TYCO Visitor’s Center today. I was grateful to be at this lunch along with local leaders including city councilors, city officials, business leaders and representatives of the Shaheen family. (More on the Shaheen family’s connection to the USS Manchester here).
In her remarks, Commander Bassett outlined a four-step mental practice that she adapted from the Navy SEALS. The four steps are:
Repeat a Mantra
She used this simple yet powerful 4-step practice when the USS Manchester was entering the Piscataqua River on Monday. The plan was to welcome aboard the Senator and her family, and the Governor and his family, by meeting the a smaller boat on the river and having them climb the ladder to get on deck. While navigating into the Piscataqua River with our world-famous powerful current, Commander Bassett reached Step 2: Envision Success, and got stuck.
In her TED Talk, “The danger of the single story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns that knowing only one story about people different from you can result in a vast misunderstanding. A single story can never be representative of the entire group that the subject of the story represents. The power of stories is that they show one possibility. That possibility, if it resonates with beliefs we already have, is very motivating – for better or worse.
“Single stories create stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.” Allowing single stories to speak for the identity of a vast group of people is, to say the least, problematic. But that doesn’t mean stories themselves are the culprit.
Adichie goes on to say, “Stories matter. And many stories matter.” Our job is not to stop telling stories, it’s to stop repeating the same tired stories, listen to new stories from others and start telling our own.
What does all this talk of stories have to do with guns?
SEO isn’t gross. Its reputation has suffered from years of being associated with hacky marketing pitches, but it is an invaluable skill set to draw upon when engaging any community online. SEO best practices these days simply mean writing, organizing and attributing content online that is easily indexed by search engines, so that it can be found by your target audience — the community you’re looking to engage as a community organizer.
If you’re a business or nonprofit with a social mission, and you’re looking for some help managing your online presence, we just might be a perfect match.
You might need help with content management if…
- If you have a website but people who visit it can never figure out how to find what they’re looking for
- If *you* can never find what you need on your own website
- If you know what you want your website to say, but don’t have time or skills to make the edits yourself
- You want to figure out how to make it easier for website visitors to take an action (share a post, contact you, buy something, book a consultation)
- You want social media to play nice with your website
- You want to come up higher on the search engine / Google results pages (SEO Copywriting can help with that, too)
What is content management?
Content management is managing (editing, publishing, updating, rearranging, freshening up) your content (blog posts, web pages, photos, videos, infographics, memes, sidebars, menu items, forms, etc.) to help you reach more people more effectively online.
Content management is not a thing that non-techie folks are necessarily able to learn intuitively — and even if you are able to add or edit blog posts, you may not know enough about user experience (UX) or search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. That’s where a content manager — like me — comes in.
Okay, what’s WordPress content management?
“WordPress content management” simply means editing, updating and maintaining your website on the WordPress platform. Not sure if your website is on WordPress already? Well, since WordPress is still the most widely-used content management system (or CMS) out there, chances are good that your website is on it.
Why WordPress content management for socially-responsible businesses?
I care about helping teams that are working to create better communities.
Many socially-responsible businesses and organizations have service providing as a top priority, but their digital /online presence might be taking a back seat.
I’ve written before about how search engine optimization is community engagement optimization. If people can’t find you online, they can’t advance your mission.
A robust communications strategy is really important. And, a fair amount of communications strategy can be demonstrated with a really clear website content strategy — and that includes everything from menu structure to clear and compelling calls-to-action.
Therefore, providing WordPress content management for socially-responsible businesses is critical to building better communities.
So, should we work together?
If you’ve ever worked with me before, you know about my commitment to working with socially-responsible, values-aligned organizations and businesses — aka values-centric work. If you’ve seen my Services page, you’ve seen the list of the types of organizations and businesses I will and won’t work with. Socially responsible is a category that encompasses many attributes that my favorite clients share.
So, if you’re part of a socially-responsible business or organization in need of some WordPress content management assistance, I’d love to talk. Since I work freelance, I can typically offer rates lower than agencies — and if all you need is content management (organization, re-organization or optimization of your existing site), you likely don’t need a pricey agency anyway.
Drop me a line, and I’d be happy to give you a free assessment, take a walk outside with you or grab a beverage and talk about your communications and marketing goals and whether I’d be a good fit to help you achieve them.
Tipping promotes inequality, and fosters discrimination and sexual harassment. The roots of tipping in the US can be traced back to the freeing of slaves, when change-resistant employers could avoid paying freed slaves an actual wage by making them work for tips. People who work for tips are twice as likely to live in poverty, and can be paid far below minimum wage. People of color are tipped at lower rates than their white colleagues. Workers who rely on tips to make a living experience twice as much sexual harassment. Is this what we meant when we used to say, “Here — for your trouble”?
New Hampshire’s fetal personhood bill is expected to become the latest example of what those who have been following New Hampshire’s reproductive rights policies already know: Governor Sununu consistently steps on women’s bodies to rise in his own political career.