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Standardize your notifications and alerts

Why standardize messages?

By thinking beforehand about how you want messages to appear—each and every time you send one out—you can build a comprehensive set of notification templates that can be used by everyone who needs to create message content.

Building this kind of template is important. Without one in place, the haphazardness of your messages may dull their impact. But with one in use, you’ll give your initiators one less thing to think about in a crisis.

Here are factors to consider when standardizing your messages:

  • Scenario. When, where and how will the message be used?
  • Messages. Will you create scripted content to be used, for example, in case of an emergency? Many mass notification systems will let you salt your template with that can be replaced before you send an individual message.
  • Devices. What devices should be used? In what priority?
  • Message formats. You’ll need to create custom messages with different requirements depending on the device or devices you’re targeting: email, phone, SMS, desktop.
  • Initiator. Who will initiate the message?
  • Authority. Who will have the authority to release the notification?
  • Accountability. Who will provide message content?
  • Approval. Will your messages need to be approved? If so, by whom?
  • Recipients. Who are the intended recipients? Will your audience change anything about your message or its delivery?
  • Responses. Will responses be required from your recipients?
  • Reporting. Who should receive real-time reports of notification progress?
  • Duration. How long should the message remain active?

A note about naming

Settling on a naming convention might at first sound like an unnecessary waste of time, but in the heat of the moment you appreciate that you did so. The simple discipline of establishing naming conventions for messages, templates, and distribution lists will allow you to easily identify and find specific groups or message templates when you need to—and fast.

Plus, without establishing naming conventions, you’ll find it much harder to identify and clean up older content, thus making it more cumbersome to navigate your system and find what you’re actually looking for.

If you’d like to read the white paper from which this blog post was drawn, download Secrets to Implementing a Great Notification System.