In 2015, a renewed emphasis on originality has put an end to "cookie cutter" websites and has made quality, creative web design much more than a luxury, but a necessity.  A functional, up-to-date website is a clear and obvious prerequisite for success on the Hill.  Constituents expect a basic level of website organization and usability that allows them to easily email a Member, read press releases, connect on social media, etc.  However, we believe in 2016, this expectation will go a step further.  Constituents will expect not only to be able to consume relevant information on a Member's website, but to be able connect and interact in a way that is unique and reflective of both the Member's personality and the constituency as a whole. 

Read on to learn about some of design trends of the future that our team of designers is ready to put into place on your website today.

 

Big Background, Small Movement, Even Smaller Header

In recent years, home pages adorned with big, full screen photos have become increasingly popular among consumer brands as well as the public sector.  As ISP bandwidths increase, browsers can handle these large images much more easily, allowing designers more creative freedom.  This style mimics traditional print advertising where a custom, high resolution image runs to the edge of the screen with dramatic, contrasting text indicating a call to action.  We predict this trend will continue into 2016 with two small variations:

1)  Traditional headers will be replaced by compact navigation panes that can expand and contract by clicking.

2)  Video/animated backgrounds featuring subtle movement will replace static background images.


Note the compacted navigation pane at the top left.  Click to see the subtle background movement.


 

Flat Design Continues to Evolve

The end of textured, gradient-heavy "web 2.0" design elements is certainly not breaking news to anyone with an eye for design.  In the last several years, "flat design" has become more in vogue thanks in part to iOS and Android's heavy use of flat elements in their mobile platforms.  Web designers love flat design because of its minimalist, classic characteristics and the amount of white space it allows.  This is why we believe, in 2016, flat design will move from primarily mobile platforms to desktop applications as well.  In fact, Google has already hinted towards this trend with their recently updated logo and their use of the term "material design", an updated interpretation of traditional flat design concepts.


Old "web 2.0" Facebook logo (left) and new "flat design" Facebook logo (right)


Micro Interactions

Whether we call them "micro experiences," "mini apps" or "micro interactions" these tiny moments of online activity are here to stay.  A few quick examples of what we're talking about:

  • Retweet on Twitter = micro interaction
  • Thumbs up/down on Pandora = micro interaction
  • Zooming in on a product on Amazon = micro interaction

Clearly, these types of engagement opportunities have been around since we could "like" something on Facebook.  But we believe in 2016, micro interactions will become a major focus web design rather than a slick side component.  The constituent of tomorrow will not be satisfied to simply consume information from a website--they will demand engagement and interaction with the site too.  Micro interactions allow the constituent to customize his/her experience by engaging with the site in small but meaningful ways, slightly altering the path of navigation as they continue to interact with the site.  Snap polls, interactive maps and easy web forms are just a few examples of micro interactions that our designers can build for your website to get you ahead of the curve.


LinkedIn uses micro interactions in several interesting ways.  The endorsement function allows users to quickly and easily interact with their network and customize their own experience while they use the site.

Contact us today to schedule your free web design consultation.  With no charge and no comittment, our design team will meet at your convenience to share ideas for how we can help get your office's website ahead of these trends and ready to lead in 2016.

Unless you've been living in a very deep, very dark cave for the last few years, you're probably aware of the important role social media plays in today's political climate.  Interesting content,  a regular rhythm of posts and thoughtful, personalized interactions are just a few of the ways to generate productive engagement in your social communities.  However, when developing a social media strategy for a given period of time, the "who" and the "why" are considerations that are sometimes left on the back burner.  Recent studies by the Pew Research Center reveal some interesting results when we look at the demographics and motivations for connecting with government on social media.

 

WHO?
It's certainly not a shock to see Millennials at the top of the list with 90% of Americans aged 18-34 opting-in to political materials on social media.  More surprising are the figures for Generation X and the Baby Boomers.  With political opt-in numbers of 89% and 80% respectively, we learn that these two groups cannot be dismissed as afterthoughts when developing social strategies.

WHY?
Now that we know a little more about who is connecting with government offices, let's look at why they choose to engage on social media versus other sources.

  • Speed: 40% of registered voters prefer social media over traditional sources of political news simply because of the speed at which information becomes available.  Elected officials can post reactions to speeches, explanations of votes, etc. seconds after the event happens--far faster than traditional news sources can.
  • Reliability: 26% of voters believe politicians' various social media sites are more reliable for political news than traditional sources.
  • Personal Connection: Social media represents a unique opportunity to showcase elected officials' personalities and to share moments from their lives away from the office.  34% of voters say this ability to connect on a personal level is the top reason they prefer social media.

Election Day has come and gone and most races around the country have been decided.  With that challenge over, the newly elected and re-elected can get down to business.  And, picking the right CRM – IQ – is among the most important investment decisions offices make.   Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. Congress already trusts us to provide for their constituent service computing needs. 

Your expectations should be high. Your CRM should not only help you track constituent requests, it should help you communicate with your constituents via every medium including email and social media. It should also help you understand the demographics and sentiments of your electorate, track legislation, manage events, and ensure delivery of your messages. 

We’ll also help you build and enrich your lists, enhance your data with social media, reach out to constituents via town halls, design compelling websites, and produce beautiful franked mailings for effective communications. 

Contact us today.  We’re ready to help! 

Election Day is only a few short days away and mid-term campaigns are in full roar.  During this time of year, we understand that your staff is focused squarely on November 4th.  Whether you’ll be an incoming Freshman or joining the 114th Congress as a seasoned Member, our team is working day and night to ensure that your system is ready to go the day you’re sworn into office. 

When you partner with the IQ team, you give your staff access to industry-leading IT and communications tools.  Our CMS is the most trusted solution on Capitol Hill and our web design team has built award-winning, custom websites for Members on both sides of the aisle.  We offer comprehensive data files that give your office the most up to date contact and demographic information in your district.  

Equally as important as tools we offer is the service we provide.  Our team of IT consultants is the best in the business and they're based just steps from the Capitol.  With a single email or a phone call, your dedicated consultant can be on the way to your office to provide personal, on-site help in just minutes.  No other vendor can offer that level of personalized responsiveness.  

We're ready to work with you today to ensure that your office is covered from every angle, both before and after November 4th.

The IQ team is very pleased to announce an exciting new integration with Eventbrite, the global self-service registration platform.  Over the next several weeks, we will begin rolling out this integration to current IQ users in the U.S. House of Representatives, giving them access to this exciting new platform for managing and promoting engagement with constituents.  This integration not only makes it easier for them to register for and attend your events, it also allows you to capture and import valuable contact data into IQ that the constituent provides to you as they sign up for the event.  This type of organic database growth is widely considered to be a best practice in contact management and we are very proud to provide you with another effective way to communicate with your constituents.

With a seamless integration between IQ’s powerful CMS tools and Eventbrite’s comprehensive platform, your office will have access to the future of event management not only on Capitol Hill, but in your district offices as well.  Not only that, but there are no extra charges or hidden fees for using the IQ + Eventbrite integration when you organize free events.  When your event is ready to begin, your staff will will have more time to focus on crucial face-to-face interactions with constituents, instead of managing paper sign-in lists.  By allowing constituents to pre-register for your events through Eventbrite, staff will be able to utilize their check-in tool, Entry Manager (available for iOS & Android), to capture everyone in attendance.  Yet again, saving staff countless hours of data entry.

Stay tuned for information on a Launch Party celebrating this announcement!

Yes, it’s true.  Summer Recess is nearly over and before long, you’ll be back in the midst of the fast-paced, high-stress environment that is a Congressional office in full swing.  Whether you’ve spent this August catching up on work in the DC office, working with constituents in the district or if you packed your bags and headed to the beach at 5pm sharp on August 1st, there’s still time to take some proactive steps that will really impress your boss once Congress reconvenes. 

Clean Up Your Data.
Maintaining clean and accurate contact data for your constituents is vitally important to successful communications in Congress.  It’s also one of the most difficult challenges in managing large databases.  Constituents move, change email addresses, get new phone numbers, etc. and it’s a tall task to keep this data clean and up to date.  When your Member gets back to DC, we promise they’ll be impressed to see that you’ve been hard at work scrubbing up your data.  We can help by offering you scrubbed voter files for your district or state.  Here’s some quick math to illustrate our point:

Clean Contact Lists = Better Open Rates
Better Open Rates = Happy Boss
Happy Boss = Happy You!
 

Explore New Web Design Concepts.
A Member’s website is sometimes both the first and only point of contact between the Member and constituents.  With no strings attached, our team of web experts will happily drop by your office anytime to talk about ideas that they have for improving the design of your site. We’ve created custom, award winning websites for Members from both sides of the aisle and we’d love to work with you too.   Show your boss that you’ve been hard at work this recess by presenting some creative new ideas for their home page.

Improve Event Management.
Whether it’s an email, a Tweet, a phone call or a letter, it’s important to capture all constituent correspondence.  But in-person events and tele-Town Halls are also crucial opportunities to gauge constituent opinions and capture contact data for future outreach.  With our new integration with Eventbrite, IQ offices will be able to easily schedule and plan events, allowing users to easily register with automated reminders.  But wait, there’s more!  Your office can import this constituent-supplied contact data directly into IQ with only one click.  

 

Contact us today to learn more about how the IQ team can help your office as we head into the Fall.

Across all major social media platforms, analytics show that posts with images attached are 93% more likely to generate engagement than text-only posts.  As a Congressional Staff Member, you’re in a unique position to observe and share a truly special perspective of the legislative process at work.  Most of your constituents will never have the chance to experience some of the things you see on a daily basis in your position.  We believe sharing these unique experiences through images on your office’s social media channels is one of the best ways to generate engagement and help your Member connect with the people you serve. 

Social media represents a great way to showcase a Member’s personality and demonstrate how they relate to their constituents on multiple levels. Instead of a photo of the Member speaking in front of a podium, why not post a pic of her playing with her dog?  Rather than posting an image of the Member shaking hands in a rope line, what about posting a pic of him walking into his favorite pizza place on Capitol Hill?  Small differences like these can be the difference in converting a constituent from a passive observer to a passionate supporter. 

The IQ team understands the value of a creative, organized and consistent approach to your office’s social media efforts and that’s why we’re proud to offer total social media integration into IQ.  Contact us today to learn more about how IQ can help optimize your social efforts.

While the growth rate for email traffic in the U.S. is expected to flatten in the coming years in favor of social communications and instant messaging, email is still king of the hill.  In fact, the average American receives about 100 emails a day and sends out another 20-30 of their own!  That’s almost one email every four minutes during the course of an 8-hour work day.  A huge number of these incoming emails are deleted immediately and never see the light of day.  What’s your plan to make sure your office’s outreach gets the attention it deserves? 

A recent poll showed that 21% of email recipients will report email as spam, even if they know it isn’t.  69% of recipients report as spam based on the subject line alone.  Statistics like these might be a bit nerve-wracking to communications staff, but we’ve identified some best practices that can help your next message hit its mark.

Experience matters on Capitol Hill and our track record speaks for itself.  With a market share in Congress of over 60%, 40% of US Governors and Federal, State and Local government customers all over the country, our fingerprints can be found as far West as Hawaii and as far East as Massachusetts. 

IQ has been the leading CRM solution on Capitol Hill and beyond for over 20 years for a few simple reasons:

1)      Responsiveness.
We have made it our business to remain on the cutting edge of technology from Day 1.  From social media integration, to mobile compatibility to responsive web design—we’re always looking forward into the future.

2)      Service.

When you partner with the IQ team, you get access to a dedicated, full time, on-site IT Consultant who is just a phone call or email away.  These guys are the best in the business.

3)   Experience.
Many members of our team have experience working in government offices and understand what it takes to get the job done.  This knowledge informs every decision we make.  We work every day to make your job easier because we’ve been there.

In every Congressional office, there comes a time each year when outreach is restricted.  The US Franking Office mandates that all unsolicited mass communications must cease for 90 days in advance of any election in which the Member’s name will appear on the ballot.  This can be a stressful time as the business of government must go on and communications staffers have to find creative ways to get their Members’ messages out.  We’re here to help. 
 
First off, it’s important to know that the blackout rules do not require you to suspend all communications with your constituents!  There are several clearly defined scenarios in which communication is permitted.  We’ll help give you some ideas for how you can communicate effectively—and within the rules— during your blackout period.
 
Sending 499’s
Unsolicited mailings must be restricted to less than 500 pieces of mail (regardless of medium) during your blackout period.  In other words, mailings in quantities of 499 or less are fair game!  In IQ4, you can generate 499’s from any contact list in your database with just one click.
 
Job Openings
If your office is has a job opening during a blackout period, you are free to post recruitment ads in order to attract applicants.
 
Direct Responses
If your office is contacted directly by a constituent (through any medium) blackout rules permit you to respond and engage in one-on-one communication with them.  IQ consolidates all your email, social media, US Mail and phone calls in one application, allowing you to track and respond to any direct communication with ease.
 
Email Your Subscribers
Communications blackout rules allow you to send eNewsletters to anyone in your district who has opted in to your newsletters.  As long as they’re subscribers, you’re free to keep them informed and up to date on how your office is serving them. 
 
See the PDF below for a printable calendar that illustrates each state’s blackout periods.  And as always, contact the IQ team any time for questions on how to build 499s, eNewsletter best practices and more—we’d love to hear from you!

Related Files: 

2014-Franking-Blackout-Dates-Cobranded.pdf