Content strategy involves identifying the type of content (words, photographs, graphics, forms) that will best enable you to communicate your department’s most important messages and achieve your department’s goals. It combines writing, organizing and prioritizing content and placing it in a navigational structure that will guide users to what they want to find on your site, and what you want them to find and do on your site.
Your site content is just as important, if not more important than its design, and it must reflect the strategic objectives of your department, as well as the university as a whole.
Planning & Managing Your Content
When planning your site's content, ask the following questions:
- What is the goal of your site? What strategic objectives of your department are you expecting your site to help accomplish?
- What are the key themes and messages you want to convey - both about your department as well as the university?
- Who are your most important audiences?
- What do those audiences want to find on your site? What do you want them to find?
- Does your existing content address the goals of your site as well as what your audiences want to see and do on your site?
- What is the most important content on your current site, and is it easy to navigate to that content?
- Review your content at least once a month. Websites that retain their audiences must be refreshed with new content. Your site administrator should develop a schedule for updating content, including photographs. For most sites, an editorial calendar will be helpful in changing content. Example: Admissions recruitment cycle affects content on site.
- Make your content web-friendly by adjusting writing style: short “chunks” of information that is easily digestible by short-attention-span web readers. Structure the page to facilitate scanning and help users ignore large chunks of the page in a single glance. Example: Use headers to break a long list into several smaller units.
- Track your website's traffic. Consider using Google Analytics to routinely review the traffic statistics on the site to measure what’s effective and what isn’t. Contact email@example.com to request an analytics email report.
- Drive traffic to your site. Develop ways to drive traffic to your site: consider various marketing vehicles, email newsletters, printed materials, advertising, etc. A direct link to your site from the homepage or a landing page should not be the only means of “finding” your departmental site. Add a link to your website in your email signature.
- Include multimedia. Once your core content is in place, consider additional types of content that will give your audiences a fuller experience and keep them coming back. Examples: video, slideshows, “ask a question,” “share your story.”
Creating an Engaging Homepage
Since a visitor's first interaction with your website is generally through the homepage, our website theme is designed to easily promote key pieces of content to your site's homepage. Upcoming events, new programs, departmental announcements, faculty or student achievements, and notable projects are all interesting things to showcase to visitors. Keep in mind: who is visiting your site? For academic departments, this will primarily be prospective and current students. Other sites, like the Keycenter, may also attract members of the Asheville community and our campus community. See our Homepage Slideshow and Promoted Content pages for instructions on how to use these page elements.
Most departments only ever have one or two upcoming events they need to promote at a given time. The Homepage Slideshow or Promoted Content area are often the best way to promote such events. Create a page for the event, give it a Representative Image, and promote it to the appropriate spot on your homepage.
For departments that have more events, we recommend one of the following:
- Use a Google Calendar in an iFrame.
- Create an RSS feed from the Master Calendar based on the booking department, keywords, or other appropriate criteria. Create an Aggregator Feed called “events” on your site. This will feed data into the View: Event From Aggregator: Events for Homepage block, which can be placed into the Events region.
- Create an Events page, and add each event as an Accordion Content item.
If your department has many events that can't be listed in one of the methods listed above (such as CESAP), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a custom solution.
When posting a flyer to your site, remember that all content must be accessible. If you post your flyer as image file, you’ll need to also include all the information on the flyer as text. If it’s a small amount of information, you can include that as Alternative Text for the image. If it’s larger, consider either posting the text of the flyer immediately after the image, or simply posting a link to a PDF of your flyer that includes the text.
We recommend using Google Forms when your site needs to collect information. In general, it’s best to simply link to the form (rather than trying to embed it on your site). If you need help setting up a form, contact email@example.com. We also recommend any Google Form you create be shared with firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the spreadsheet of results. That way we can help out if there’s ever a problem.