Archive for September, 2009

PICnet Volunteer Series: Katie is starting Creative Conversations

This is the second post in our series about the PICnet Team’s volunteer efforts.

Jamie Ozimek contributed to this post.

Who: Project Manager Katie Guernsey How she serves: Various positions at Americans for the Arts

header_logoPICnetter Katie keeps busy day to day as a  Project Manager in our San Francisco office, helping clients build and manage their websites. But on the side, Katie is heavily involved in Americans for the Arts, the largest national advocacy and service organization for the arts in the US.

At AFTA, Katie serves as a member on the Emerging Leaders Council, and the chair of  the Technology and Communications Committee. As a Councilmember, she helps inform the direction that AFTA takes in supporting arts administrators who identify themselves to be “emerging” in their career on a national level. What exactly does that mean? According to Katie, AFTA’s definition of an “Emerging Leader” is someone under 35 years old, or in the field less than five years, but depending on the person, these guidelines can change a little. The Emerging Leaders Council devises programming, networking, and professional development opportunities for their peers under the guise of AFTA’s infrastructure. On a local level, Katie helps to coordinate professional networking opportunities such as the “Creative Conversations.”

Some of Katie’s specific duties include maintaining AFTA’s Google Group and overseeing the strategy of how to best serve their constituency through online technologies. This year, she facilitated one of the Emerging Leader Networking Sessions at the Annual Convention.

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This project is a GO

thumb_goprojectMost kids have been back back in school for almost a month now, getting into the daily rhythms of classes, homework and extra-curriculars. Parents have their pickup and drop-off schedules down, and teachers are into the thick of their lesson plans.

But not every child and their family starts a new school year with ease- and that’s where The GO Project comes in. Many children in Lower Manhattan public schools are first or second generation Americans with parents who speak little to no English, their families are struggling financially, and they don’t have the resources to fully benefit from the public school system. The GO Project has been addressing the intellectual, social and emotional needs of children attending public elementary schools in lower Manhattan and their families since 1968. Their support services and programs help over 300 struggling elementary school children each year build the confidence and skills they need to realize their potential and succeed at school, at home and in life.

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Your Cause. Your Website: Tracking and Boosting Site Traffic

You’ve got your website. It’s your organization’s virtual front door. You work hard to lay out the welcome mat, tend the flower boxes, wash the windows, and offer enough content to get people inside for a heart-to-heart coffee table chat about you and your mission.

So you’ve got curb appeal. You’ve got substance. But how do you get folks into your neighborhood and knocking on your door in the first place?

Great question. Boosting traffic and attracting eyeballs to your site is key to online success. If people aren’t coming and viewing your site, it isn’t doing its job to move your mission forward.

Tracking site traffic: Knowing who’s coming to your site

The first part of improving is knowing how your site performs now. The easiest and cheapest way for assessing that is a handy tool called Google Analytics. This is free and tracks website traffic. Got some question you want to know about who and how people are visiting your site? How long the average person spends poking around? What search term they typed into Google to come across your little home away from home on the interwebs? How many people living in Burkina Faso visited your site on a Tuesday at 10:23 pm? The Google knows. It knows it all. And it will tell you – provided you’ve signed up for a free account and had us install the tracking code it provides.

No Google Analytics yet? Interested? Check out our Tips and Tricks post about tracking traffic.  You can also view an informative Google-created video there giving an overview of Analytics.

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Your Cause. Your Website: Suggestion Box

A few weeks ago, we launched the PICnet Salon Experience – a new level of support for our clients, and we’re really excited about getting that started.

We began with a post on our new and improved Knowledge Base, asking for your feedback on how we can do a better job serving you, your website and your cause. PICnet does best when we hear from you on what you want and need – so tell us – whatever it is!

Below is a quick view from our first post. In the future, we’ll be making it easier for you to see what’s happening in the PICnet support world by posting all of our updates here in addition to our support home pages.

Welcome to the first installment of Your Cause, Your Website, a regular announcement from the PICnet Support Team aimed at ensuring that your relationship with your website is a rich, happy, and productive one – and that our role in supporting that relationship is as effective and helpful as can be.

We’ll be dedicating these updates to ways in which you can unlock the full potential of your site. There’s a lot of buzz out there about what’s hip, what’s essential, what’s possible. Our task will be to cut through the hype and offer specific, clear steps for you to better leverage your online presence and further your mission. Read more


Salesforce offers new service for small businesses, non-profits included.

We’ve got another cool tool to share with you this week: Salesforce, probably the most popular CRM in the galaxy, has recently announced a new product – the Contact Manager Edition of its CRM.

This is a lighter-weight version of their CRM application that leaves out many of the frills… but comes at a much lower price at $9 a month per user. This is great news for non-profits who have been itching to use it but feared the steep cost.

It may be missing some of the bells and whistles, but it’s still a pretty impressive way to manage your contacts. It will still integrate with your email – from Gmail to Outlook to Yahoo – and will track your emails and present them in preconfigured reports.

But what is really cool – especially for many PICnet clients – is that the Contact Manager Edition integrates with Google Apps automatically.  Docs, Calendar, Gmail, and more are intigrated into the new system, so there are no extra database integration steps needed when using these two systems together.

Step over to for more info. We hope this will be something useful for you!


AFT FACE scores award

The whole reason for our existence over here at PICnet is to create quality websites our clients can easily and effectively manage to make real their mission.  It’s about their cause, their website.

So when we hear good news about how an organization is using our tools to rock the world, we’ve just got to shout about it.

We couldn’t be prouder to shout today about the American Federation of Teachers.  Their Faculty and College Excellence program and its Deputy Director, Craig Smith, are the proud recipients of the International Labor Communications Association’s award for Best Web-Based Journal.

Frankly, we’re not surprised.  Craig and his team’s diligence and expertise in maintaining regular and top notch content was obvious from the outset when their Non-Profit Soapbox site was launched.  They consistently get the most out of the site we built with them and its only right and good that they’ve been duly recognized for it.

Congratulations to Craig and AFT FACE!  Keep up the great work!  We’re proud to be an ongoing partner in your success and the furtherance of your mission!


Advancing CORE Group online so they can advance health worldwide

CoreGroup_screenshotIn the midst of the health care reform debate in our own country, there are still many global health crises out there waiting to be fixed. At PICnet, we work with many clients who strive towards improving global health through prevention, partnerships and awareness. One organization who fits this bill that we recently were honored to help is CORE Group, a non-profit that partners with more than 50 other health-oriented organizations to share knowledge and help advance the community health approach around the world.

CORE Group’s website was in need of a visual upgrade, more functionality, and cleaner navigation and usability. PICnet created a new design for the site – phase 1 of the project. As the site is mostly informational, there isn’t too much interactive or dynamic functionality at this time. But in phase 2, PICnet will help punch up the site with donation processing and some other cool features to give the organization a real upgrade online.

We’re really pleased with how the project is going so far, and it’s been a pleasure to work with CORE Group. They do some awesome work collaborating and sharing information for non-profits working in health care in developing countries – so we’re glad to be able to help them achieve this goal in a more effective way online. Thanks to everyone involved in getting this project off the ground! We look forward to completing the next phase.

Learn more about CORE Group and its mission.


Social Media Sewing Circle in SF – Sign up now!

Our PICnet friend and partner Aspiration is hosting a “Social Media Sewing Circle” from 1-4pm, Sept. 15, as part of “Mozilla Service Week,” in San Francisco. They will be hosting a few free sessions such as: Social Media Tracking, Publishing strategies for social media channels, Facebook and Twitter Essentials, and Beginning and advanced blogging skills.

The event is free, but space is limited, so RSVP now if you plan on attending! It is hosted at the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center.

Check it out here.

What is Mozilla Service Week? Starting tomorrow, techies will be donating their time (more than 9,000 hours pledged so far and counting) to help make a difference in their communities and the world – and doing it all online! You can sign up to volunteer here, or just to find out more about this exciting week of web service.


PICnet Volunteer Series: Kevin debugs Joomla for you

Jamie Ozimek contributed to this blog post.

Today marks the first dedicated National Day of Service and Remembrance, on the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. We though it fitting to start our PICnet Volunteer Series today. Every few weeks, we’ll be featuring another PICnet Team Member and his or her service efforts. To read more President Obama’s call for service and the introduction to this series, click here.

workgroups_bugsquadWho: Developer Kevin Devine How he serves: Joomla Bug Squad, maintains release series

When he’s not helping to develop websites for PICnet clients, Kevin takes even more hours out of his day (and night) to volunteer with the Joomla project, as a member of their Development Team. Currently, he is on their Joomla Bug Squad as the co-maintainer of the current release series. To break it down for you, Kevin tests for bugs reported by the community, writes patches, and reviews and commits patches added to the releases. He also serves as a member of the Joomla Security Team, for which he tests for security vulnerabilities in new releases of the open-source CMS and adds the appropriate patches.

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The PICnet Salon Experience

Even the most thoughtfully designed website needs some attention from time to time. Our clients’ needs change and develop, and their websites must change with them. And as we know, technology changes, too, sometimes so quickly that the next new version of something is out before you’ve barely gotten used to the current one.

So what happens when a PICnet client needs assistance with their website after it has launched? They contact the PICnet Support Team and we get their issues resolved. At PICnet, we are passionate about supporting our clients. They are more than just accounts to us – they – YOU – are our partners. We care about the issues that our clients stand for, and strive to be an integral part of their success.

We have been undergoing a philosophical metamorphosis in the PICnet Support Department over the past couple of months, further articulating what makes us unique, and we are really excited about it! It is a client-forward strategy that we like to call the PICnet Salon Experience. We understand how frustrating technical support can be. We know, because we have to interact with support from dozens of companies ourselves in our daily work. We are constantly frustrated by a lack of responsiveness, unknowledgeable support agents, confusing ticketing systems, and ultimately, unsatisfactory solutions to our problems.

PICnet is committed to being the opposite of that.

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