Three Tech Terms You Should Know

I’m Paula Jones and as director of technology at the Center I manage our technology needs.  As a side benefit, I also get to help Member nonprofits with technology issues that they face. 

Recently I attended the NCTech4Good Conference, which provides an opportunity for people from across North Carolina to come together and share knowledge about technologies that advance the mission of nonprofits. I left NCT4G with three terms that provide a pulse for where technology is now and where it’s headed.

  1. Data visualization. Brace yourself for the newest tech buzz word -- you’ll be seeing more of it! In its simplest form, “datavis” allows us to take statistics and other data we collect and put them in an easy to view (and visually pleasing) format for public consumption.  I know you collect a lot of data, but what are you doing with it?  Occasionally we’ll pull nuggets out for a proposal, grant report, or annual report.  But, in most cases, it’s stored in a database or software program and doesn’t get used as fully as it could be. Collecting data is important, but putting it out there for in-depth consideration is key, too. That information will be much more powerful if we can share it more broadly within  our organization and with our stakeholders.
  2. Responsive design. So maybe you’re not a web designer, but it’s still relevant to you.  It’s all about how people access and view your website.  If folks are visiting from a mobile device, you want them to be able to view and access your information as easily as they could from a workstation.  Responsive design does that by collecting information about the user’s device and displaying it in a format (or resolution) that’s appropriate.  Nonprofits should know how people are accessing their websites so that they can provide users with the best experience.  Review your website analytics to find stats of how many people come to your site from a mobile device.  It may surprise you!
  3. Email marketing. I know what you’re thinking. Email marketing isn’t new, and you’re right! But, it’s still important enough to include here.  When done correctly (and in coordination with your other marketing) email can be quite effective.  Nonprofits should be using targeted e-mail messages and comparing results to see what works best for your audiences.  A quick review of your email analytics will help provide answers to what time is best to send messages, what day your audience is more likely to read them, and what content and style they are most interested in.  It takes the guesswork out of sending messages and is overall much more successful.

All of you out there, what other tech terms would you add to this list?


I'm not adding a tech term here, but a note regarding Responsive Design...

Test out your website on various mobile devices - see how it looks already. What's showing up in that much smaller space - and what do you WANT to show up in that small space? The donate button? Sponsor/member info? The About Us? Use that insight to help create a plan of action for a mobilized design before the "ohmygoshwehavetogomobile!" moment.

Also remember that a lot of the tech terms out there are usually describing relatively simple things, so don't be put off by any 'geekery'...

Michelle, thanks for your comment. I completely agree. It is very important to identify key elements that you want people to see or act on. With such a small space it is even more important to have a plan for what to display and how to do it.

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