Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is popular among companies and employees, as it gives room to creative and innovative projects (refer to part 1 of this article). With the right tools, DIY projects from course creation to video production are done fast and professionally. Plus, employees gain freedom and motivation at their workplace. We present 7 online tools that help companies stay modern and flexible, empowering their employees with relevant projects.
Here is a short list of tools that we consider empowering and helpful for fast, self-directed projects and ideas.
Many argue that WordPress lay grounds for DIY in editing and publishing websites. And sure enough, for the first time non-professionals started creating blogs and websites to a large extent all by themselves. The content management system gained popularity with its intuitive handling and its open source principle. It is now used worldwide by bloggers and companies for their web appearance.
With a multitude of plug-ins such as Yoast, WordPress supports an effective positioning on the web. For instance, it makes SEO (search engine optimization) easy to manage, even for non-professionals in Marketing. Also, single pages such as product pages are now managed by employees from the expertise team (e.g. product management). They update information, replace images or add links. That’s what makes management lean and keeps employees engaged, with a feeling of responsibility for their own website content.
Don’t underestimate the power of e-mail. It is still an important way for corporate communication and advertisement. However, most of the time they are built in an unappealing manner and get displayed badly when opened on mobile or tablet screens. MailChimp is an online tool that helps creating beautiful, responsive e-mail. It offers templates for an effective use of headlines, pictures and additional information. This way, anyone is empowered to build modern and appealing e-mail.
As typical for an online tool, MailChimp offers an extensive reporting alongside its core services. It enables monitoring the recipients’ behavior such as opening, click or bounce rates. This function gives enormous power to an employee, who now knows everything about the effectiveness and possible needs for improvement about “his” mailing campaign.
Get away from rigid PDF and excessive websites and create corporate material that truly inspires readers. Magzmaker is an online tool that was developed for this aim. It puts media rich pages into one responsive magazine that you can flip through. This can be a corporate magazine, a booklet or an annual report.
So far, most creative work that involves interactive elements is given to designers and programmers who know how to write code for special activity. However, rich media outputs like online magazines can be created by non-professionals too, if they have the right equipment at hand. With the help of templates and pre-defined commands, anyone can create visually appealing material with pictures, texts, videos and animations. It enables employees to be creative without getting too deep into technical requirements.
Video increasingly becomes one of the most important elements of corporate communication. They add value to social media campaigns, websites, online magazines and trainings. However, creating a huge amount of video content can be tough – and expensive.
In order to able to create a lot of video content quickly, internal production is often unavoidable. By sourcing out, a lot of money is spent, plus producers and agencies need to be fed with information and details – which takes time as well. Therefore, many companies choose to let internal employees create video content, those people who already have the knowledge and details. They don’t need to be an expert on filmmaking, but an expert on their subject, to make valuable video content. All they need are tools like Camtasia, to edit and produce content with. Easy measures like taking screencasts (filming one’s screen content) help creating material for videos, which then can be cut, completed with voice-over and produced.
Like with video content, the demand for pictures has increased. Blogs, invitations, tweets – can you imagine any one of those without pictures nowadays? Also for flyers, online magazines and banners, pictures are needed extensively. Luckily, pictures can be gathered rather quickly via (mobile) cameras, screenshots or downloads from internet platforms. To edit those pictures, all you need is an easy tool that is either already installed on your computer, or accessible via the browser.
Canva is an online tool for producing graphics, presentations, posters or social media banners. Like their slogan says – Empowering the world to design – they want to give people the opportunity to be a designer, without actually being one. Without having a professional background in design, installing software or owning loads of symbols, forms or fonts. This way of empowerment is extremely representative for DIY projects: employees simply create their own drafts and sometimes publish them directly. They can also give the draft to a professional designer, who might do some design changes but who knows instantly what the picture is intended to look like.
Even conducting online training for transmitting and testing company knowledge is part of what employees can do themselves nowadays. Employees have always been responsible for training colleagues and partners as they are experienced and give feedback based on first-hand knowledge. When it comes to computerized learning however, many companies let courses be built by externals who have the technical knowledge about how to transform content into e-learning. But as it shows, this step is not necessary any longer. Employees can build online training themselves, including tests and quizzes and other interactive material.
Support comes from online tools like Coursepath. Companies convert their own content (e.g. PowerPoint slides) into a Learning Management System where knowledge tools, user management and reporting functions all come into one. The system monitors the steps taken by trainers or participants, and most importantly: it gives them the possibility to work together. If one gets stuck, others can help out, just because everything that happens (new content, new questions, messages to trainers etc.) are immediately online and accessible to everyone who is logged in.
Projects conducted internally require one thing above many others: effective communication and coordination with colleagues and project partners. Especially when employees take creative projects upon themselves for the first time, they need support and feedback from others. They will revise concepts and drafts more than once before they achieve an official concept that will be presented to the managers.
For sharing drafts and material in a safe environment the intranet is the most common place. However, when preparing projects and new ideas, social interaction is more important than pure document management. A social intranet like Viadesk stimulates such exchange by displaying comments, likes and updates with every document. Via user tagging, people can request each other to give feedback. People can also be marked as experts in a special area, so when there is an issue they are found quickly. This interaction is what turns a platform into a tool: people have the means to collaborate on project ideas and material.
Numerous tools help making material and drafts and sustain a modern corporate communication. That is by supporting creative work itself and bringing motivation into working life. Especially young employee generations respond to possibilities of creativity and meaningful work. Secondly, it changes the way employees work together.
It might seem at times that DIY workers take away projects from professionals such as designers and programmers. However, a self-directed project, concept or draft would not render support by others obsolete. To the contrary, when non-professionals start their own projects, they need support by everything and everyone they can get, being it tools, feedback or revision. A company that encourages this collaboration, will soon find innovative ideas and projects running by its employees, who in turn find value and motivation in their work.