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How to Build a Better College Website

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Let's be honest. A lot of college and university websites could use some improvement. Visitors get lost, offerings are unclear and the content and design don't represent all the amazing things you do. …

Let's be honest. A lot of college and university websites could use some improvement. Visitors get lost, offerings are unclear and the content and design don't represent all the amazing things you do.

Learn more at http://www.percussion.com

Join VisionPoint Marketing and Percussion as we walk you through a step-by-step process and share lessons learned from two of the largest institutions on the east coast.

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  • 1. #betterHEweb @zhhender HOW TO BUILD A BETTER
 COLLEGE WEBSITE
  • 2. Introductions Zac VisionPoint Marketing >>> @zhhender #betterHEweb <<<
  • 3. About VisionPoint > > > > > > Established in March 2001 & located in Raleigh, NC with team of ~ 15 Specialize in online marketing consultation and execution in higher ed Serve: Large & Small; Public & Private; Grad, Post-Grad, Undergrad, CC Web, branding, inbound marketing, strategy, consultation, etc. Focus on what’s right for our clients (no ‘one size fits all’ approach) Speaking on HE marketing at CASE, AMA, eduWeb, NCMPR, AACSB, others
  • 4. #betterHEweb @zhhender enough about me
  • 5. #betterHEweb @zhhender Agenda: 5 Steps 1. Goal Setting 2. Information Architecture 3. Technology Decisions (CMSs) 4. Visual Design 5. Website Governance
  • 6. #betterHEweb @zhhender Setting Expectations Lots to cover (I might talk really fast) Casual: ask questions / interrupt If I pick on your website, please don’t get mad at me : ) !
  • 7. #betterHEweb @zhhender Current-state of higher ed
  • 8. #betterHEweb @zhhender The BAD news ...
  • 9. #betterHEweb @zhhender BAD (many) higher ed websites are really
  • 10. small, generic photos provide 
 no sense 
 of place
  • 11. trying to do 
 too much on the home page
  • 12. mixed up user & global navigation
  • 13. dated visual design
  • 14. is that the same person?
  • 15. #betterHEweb @zhhender The GOOD news!
  • 16. THERE’S HOPE
  • 17. #betterHEweb @zhhender 5 Steps to a better college website
  • 18. #betterHEweb @zhhender 1 Goal Definition
  • 19. #betterHEweb @zhhender Design goal-driven strategy Technology IA Content
  • 20. #betterCCwebsite @ahatony 1a Goal Definition: Know thyself
  • 21. #betterHEweb @zhhender Usage Habits - Events > Respondents were asked to answer questions about their needs and usage habits of the website.
  • 22. #betterHEweb @zhhender Staff Alumni & donors Leadership graduate students undergraduates
  • 23. #betterHEweb @zhhender Sample Stakeholder Interview Questions > Tell us about your unit/offering > Tell us about your role here > What are the goals for your unit/offering? > What are the biggest challenges you face? > Who is your target audience? > What do you want to communicate? > What are your goals for the website? > What is the current state of your content? > Do you feel that the website communicates the 
 school’s brand well?
  • 24. #betterHEweb @zhhender Business Goals
  • 25. #betterHEweb @zhhender Website Goals: the new website will . . . > Attract prospective students > Engage prospective students in decision-making process > Be user-friendly (find what you’re looking for quickly & easily) > Make content publishing easier, more streamlined and timelier > Be built on a modern CMS (easy to use, stable, dynamic, supported) > Have a home page that acts as conduit to content (not billboard) > Will be more search friendly (external engines + internal search) > Elevate brand perception & credibility
  • 26. #betterHEweb @zhhender 1b Goal Definition: Know thy Audience
  • 27. #betterHEweb @zhhender Higher Ed Target Audience
  • 28. #betterHEweb @zhhender Interviews
  • 29. #betterHEweb @zhhender User Personas
  • 30. #betterHEweb @zhhender What is a Website Persona? A website user persona is a fictional character that represents a set of real users (user groups) of a website. The persona should represent the goals, attitudes (toward the institution, technology, etc), demographics, and general behavior patterns of a real group of website users.
  • 31. #betterCCwebsite @ahatony
  • 32. Barry Antonelli (44 Years Old) Prospective Student - Online MBA Family Situation Single Occupation Accountant / Consultant Annual Income $70,000 Internet Behavior Facebook (medium), E-mail (heavy), IM/ Chat (heavy), YouTube (light), Search engines (Google), On-site search (light) Devices Personal laptop, Blackberry Tech savviness 3 stars (out of 5) Uses the WTCC website for: non-credit course descriptions, course scheduling information, access to online courses Barry is your classic professional ‘road warrior’. He travels quite a bit for work and enjoys his job, but he has always been drawn to graphic design and would like to get a more formal understanding of Photoshop. He’s not ready for a career change, but would be if he felt that he could make it as a graphic designer. He’s looking for a class that will provide him with a way that he can get his feet wet in the field of graphic design (e.g. Introduction to Photoshop). Even if he doesn’t go for a career change he would like to continue to take graphic design classes for fun. He’s wanted to do this for years, but he cannot commit to attending class on campus because he’s on the road almost every week. An online class would be perfect for him. In order to make the decision, Barry will be looking for information on availability in the area, descriptions and examples regarding the overall online course experience, commitments he needs to make to attend any part of the class on campus, tuition and fees, FAQs and a calendar of when the next class begins.
  • 33. #betterHEweb @zhhender Users' Goals
  • 34. Barry Antonelli (44 Years Old) Prospective Student > Online MBA Distance Education Goals Aggregate goals for this group > Look up class availability and descriptions > Research instructor information > Find technology requirements > Register for classes > Look up descriptions of the online experience > Assess whether or not online learning is for them
  • 35. #betterHEweb @zhhender 2 Information Architecture
  • 36. What is Information Architecture? IA is the centerpiece of website design & development yet it is the most commonly overlooked part of the process (which is why so many sites fail) > > > > > Determines the hierarchy of on-page content Informs navigation Informs visual design Informs technology decisions Allows visitor to find what they’re looking for quickly & easily
  • 37. User G ( 1.0 Programs (Compare Programs) 2.0 Faculty & Research 3.0 Student Life & Services 4.0 About Us Undergraduate Programs Faculty Study Abroad Quick Facts & Rankings Full-Time MBA Academic Departments Campus Life History Clubs & Organizations Vision Community & Diversity Smith Leadership Events Administrative Offices Part-Time MBA Executive MBA Accounting & Information Assurance Decision, Operations & Information Technologies Finance Executive Education Logistics, Business & Public Policy MS Programs PhD Program Management & Organization Marketing Centers & Labs Career Services Office of Development and Alumni Relations Office of Finance & Administration Office of Global Initiatives Office of Human Resources Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Office of Marketing Communications Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) Office of Smith IT Center for Digital Innovation, Technology, and Strategy (DIGITS) Office of Smith Programs and Events (OSPE) Center for Excellence in Service Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) Contact Us Center for Leadership, Innovation & Change (CLIC) Supply Chain Management Center Center for Complexity in Business Center for Social Value Creation Center for Financial Policy Behavioral Laboratory Legend: Financial Markets Laboratory Core Site Published Research Section Seminars & Events Mini Site External Link Search Home
  • 38. User G ( 1.0 Programs (Compare Programs) 2.0 Faculty & Research 3.0 Student Life & Services 4.0 About Us Undergraduate Programs Faculty Study Abroad Quick Facts & Rankings Full-Time MBA Academic Departments Campus Life History Clubs & Organizations Vision Community & Diversity Smith Leadership Events Administrative Offices Part-Time MBA Executive MBA Accounting & Information Assurance Decision, Operations & Information Technologies Finance Executive Education Logistics, Business & Public Policy MS Programs PhD Program Management & Organization Marketing Centers & Labs Career Services Office of Development and Alumni Relations Office of Finance & Administration Office of Global Initiatives Office of Human Resources Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Office of Marketing Communications Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) Office of Smith IT Center for Digital Innovation, Technology, and Strategy (DIGITS) Office of Smith Programs and Events (OSPE) Center for Excellence in Service Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) Contact Us Center for Leadership, Innovation & Change (CLIC) Supply Chain Management Center Center for Complexity in Business Center for Social Value Creation Center for Financial Policy Behavioral Laboratory Legend: Financial Markets Laboratory Core Site Published Research Section Seminars & Events Mini Site External Link Search Home
  • 39. #betterHEweb @zhhender It’s all about THEM
  • 40. #betterHEweb @zhhender Tenets of a User Centric Approach > IA of successful websites are designed to get the site’s visitors (users) to what they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible > Your site map will NOT look like your org chart > If it doesn’t serve the users’ goals, it doesn’t belong on the 
 public-facing site *
  • 41. #betterHEweb @zhhender Use plain language
  • 42. #betterHEweb @zhhender Curriculum Courses Credit vs. Non-credit Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Degree vs. Certificate
  • 43. 3 Technology Decisions
  • 44. #betterHEweb @zhhender CMS Evaluation
  • 45. #betterHEweb @zhhender DB-driven CMS Paradigm Shift
  • 46. #betterHEweb @zhhender Traditional Website
  • 47. #betterHEweb @zhhender Dynamic Website
  • 48. #betterHEweb @zhhender Dynamic Website
  • 49. Tuition & Fees! Cost Comparisons! Financial Aid! Scholarships
  • 50. Tuition & Fees! Cost Comparisons! Financial Aid! Scholarships
  • 51. #betterHEweb @zhhender A new CMS will NOT NOT NOT “fix” your website.
  • 52. #betterHEweb @zhhender Some things to consider when selecting a CMS > > > > > How complex will your content approval process be? How many content contributors and editors will be using the CMS? How much customer support do you need? How much do you plan on spending? What kind of technology platform can your IT service team support? > What level of integration with third-party applications is needed?
  • 53. #betterHEweb @zhhender 4 Visual Design
  • 54. #betterHEweb @zhhender “Because 
 I like it.”
  • 55. #betterHEweb @zhhender Considerations when designing for higher ed > Exhibit a sense of place > Stay true to the hierarchy established in the IA > Remember that a website is a tool (don’t get so flashy and decorative that it distracts from the content, navigation, CTAs) > Keep it real (real people, limit stock as much as possible) > Design for all content types (video, galleries, directories, news, etc) > Stay true to the brand
  • 56. #betterHEweb @zhhender Content is KING
  • 57. #betterHEweb @zhhender What is Responsive Design?
  • 58. #betterHEweb @zhhender 5 Governance
  • 59. #betterHEweb @zhhender What is website governance & why is it SO important?
  • 60. #betterHEweb @zhhender Website Governance Your institution’s structure of people, process and policies to maintain and manage your website over time.
  • 61. well-meaning content contributors can’t contribute content & design 
 is off brand investment into new 
 website wasted cobbled-together,
 rogue websites & 
 non-approved sections poor content quality (bad grammar, 
 photos, video, etc) one group or person 
 being a bottleneck for 
 getting content published
  • 62. #betterHEweb @zhhender Creating your plan (the 5Rs)
  • 63. #betterHEweb @zhhender The 5Rs * 1 2 Roles Responsibilities 4 Rules 3 Relationships 5 Review * Special thanks to Candi Harrison: http://candioncontent.blogspot.com
  • 64. #betterHEweb @zhhender 1 Roles
  • 65. Roles Unit Leader Responsibilities Relationships Rules Review Content 
 Owner Content Contributor Content 
 Editor Hands-on Web Management Team Information Technology Services Web Advisory Committee Oversight & Advisory Executive Leadership Leadership
  • 66. #betterHEweb @zhhender 2 Responsibilities
  • 67. Roles Responsibilities Unit Leader Content Owner Relationships Content Contributor Rules Content Editor Deans, Senior Directors, VPs and other unit leaders within the college > Responsible for driving the overall content strategy (unit-specific positioning, messaging, tone & voice) > > Designate Content Owners and approve recommended Content Contributors & Content Editors Ultimately accountable for the accuracy & quality of content, as well as to adherence to standards & processes Review Hands-on
  • 68. Roles Responsibilities Unit Leader Content Owner Relationships Content Contributor Rules Content Editor Experts in specific types of content > Responsible for the creation of certain content 
 in which they are expert > > May post that content to the website Trained in the use of CMS editing functions and website standards & processes Review
  • 69. #betterHEweb @zhhender 3 Relationships
  • 70. #betterHEweb @zhhender Unit Leader Content 
 Owner Content Contributor Content 
 Editor Web Management Team Information Technology Services Web Advisory Committee Executive Leadership
  • 71. #betterHEweb @zhhender Content Contributor Unit Leader WAC recommends disciplinary action Web Advisory against Content Committee Content Contributor Editor Content Owner Web Management Team Information Technology Services Executive Leadership has final approval or veto power Executive Leadership
  • 72. #betterHEweb @zhhender Content Contributor Unit Leader Unit Leader is informed by WAC and enforces action against Content Contributor WAC recommends disciplinary action Web Advisory against Content Committee Content Contributor Editor Content Owner Web Management Team Information Technology Services Executive Leadership has final approval or veto power Executive Leadership
  • 73. #betterHEweb @zhhender Unit Leader Unit Leader is informed by WAC and enforces action against Content Contributor WAC recommends disciplinary action Web Advisory against Content Committee Content Contributor Editor Content Owner Web Management Team Information Technology Services Executive Leadership has final approval or veto power Executive Leadership
  • 74. #betterHEweb @zhhender 4 Rules
  • 75. Roles Responsibilities Relationships Rules Review Rules A set of documents including supporting policies, procedures and/ or guidelines that are required for use by the roles as they write, review, edit, approve/reject and publish content. ! They may include the following:
  • 76. Roles Responsibilities Relationships Rules Review
  • 77. #betterHEweb @zhhender 5 Review
  • 78. Roles Responsibilities People Relationships Process Rules Review Performance
  • 79. Roles Responsibilities People Relationships Rules Process Performance People Reviews accountability and makes sure people do what they’re supposed to do. > How do you track non-compliance? > What do you do if someone doesn’t comply? Review
  • 80. Roles Responsibilities Relationships Rules People Process Review Performance Process Reviews whether or not you have the right processes in place and that your plan is working efficiently. > How do you ensure content community is comfortable with the workflow process and it is serving their needs? > How do you ensure that all roles are designated by their unit leader and trained appropriately?
  • 81. Roles Responsibilities Relationships Rules People Process Performance Performance Reviews the quality of your website. > Is your website achieving its goals? > Are you meeting the needs of your audience? > Are you communicating effectively? Review
  • 82. Recap & Takeaways
  • 83. #betterHEweb @zhhender Key Takeaways > GOALS: Every decision made about the website will answer the question: “Does this make sense to our users and serve them well?” > IA: No longer think of site as static pages and sections > IA: Think of site as a structure that houses bits of content that are pushed to wherever appropriate on site > CMS: Tech will not solve your website woes > CMS: Choose a CMS that is right for YOUR institution > DESIGN: Use it to your advantage (sense of place, eye flow, readability) > DESIGN: Go responsive > GOVERNANCE: Ensure success into the future
  • 84. Thank you! #betterHEweb follow @vispoint | @zhhender email: zhenderson@visionpointmarketing.com