Cool Toys Pic of the Day – HowTo.gov

HowTo.gov:
http://www.howto.gov/

This is a wonderful little reference tool, being mentioned just in case you haven’t already heard of it. It isn’t quite what it sounds like. I mean, at first glance, I thought it would be a collection of how to do all those useful things that governments want citizenry to be able to do, from gardening to constructing emergency shelters in a disaster. Upon second glance I realized it seems to be mostly focused on digital environments, and thought it would be yet another how-to-do-it-good self-help web tutorial. The reality is somewhere between the two.

HowTo isn’t just simple web tutorials, but it is mostly web and communication tools and tutorials. Not just simple ones, though. Some of this is rich and nuanced, and some of the tools are amazingly thorough.

Services and Tools includes standards for government web sites (which are excellent to review for any organization, especially those which receive government funding); an incredibly useful and selective library; a collection of Terms of Service agreements that meet federal standards so you know what such a beast might look like; collections of federal mobile apps; collaboration tools; crowdsourcing tools; open source code collections; and much much more.

Services and Tools:
http://www.howto.gov/services-tools

Library:
http://www.howto.gov/services-tools/library

Tools:
http://www.howto.gov/services-tools/tools-government-agencies

They have classes and free webinars, like the one tomorrow on plain language, which is part of their DigitalGov University series.

Essentials of Plain Language
http://www.howto.gov/training/classes/essentials-plain-language

The section on how to manage web content is almost over the top it is so rich with goodies. Definitely worth a look for anyone creating content at ALL, whether or not it is for the web.

Web Content:
http://www.howto.gov/web-content

Of course, there is also much useful content in the equivalent section on using social media to support your mission.

Social Media:
http://www.howto.gov/social-media

Earlier this week the #hcsm group was talking about best practices for sharing emergency or crisis information. Well, this is a great place to find out what the government is thinking along those lines. Beyond what was already mentioned above, in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, the HowTo team posted in their blog examples and best practices for effective tweets. The following day, with the hurricane calming down, they posted a mini tutorial on how to study eyetracking for evaluating your website. Amazing!

HowTo: Blog:
http://blog.howto.gov/

HowTo: Quick and Effective Messages for #Sandy:
http://blog.howto.gov/2012/10/29/quick-and-effective-messages-for-sandy/

Eye-Tracking Usability Tests for Dummies:
http://blog.howto.gov/2012/10/30/eye-tracking-usability-tests-for-dummies/

The take home message? This is worth exploring if you are working with or for any kind of government or nonprofit and do any kind of communication. Or, really, just if you do any kind of communication. That’s all of us, right?

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