#betterHEweb @zhhender

HOW TO BUILD A

BETTER

COLLEGE
WEBSITE
Introductions

Zac

VisionPoint Marketing

>>>

@zhhender
#betterHEweb

<<<
About VisionPoint
>
>
>
>
>
>

Established in March 2001 & located in Raleigh, NC with team of ~ 15
Specialize in online m...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

enough about me
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Agenda: 5 Steps
1. Goal Setting
2. Information Architecture
3. Technology Decisions (CMSs)
4. Visu...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Setting Expectations
Lots to cover (I might talk really fast)
Casual: ask questions / interrupt
If...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Current-state of higher ed
#betterHEweb @zhhender

The BAD news ...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

BAD
(many) higher ed websites are really
small, generic
photos provide 

no sense 

of place
trying to do 

too much on the
home page
mixed up
user & global
navigation
dated visual
design
is that the same
person?
#betterHEweb @zhhender

The GOOD news!
THERE’S
HOPE
#betterHEweb @zhhender

5 Steps
to a better college website
#betterHEweb @zhhender

1

Goal Definition
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Design

goal-driven
strategy

Technology

IA
Content
#betterCCwebsite @ahatony

1a

Goal Definition: Know thyself
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Usage Habits - Events
> Respondents were asked to answer questions about their needs
and usage hab...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Staff

Alumni & donors
Leadership

graduate students

undergraduates
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Sample Stakeholder Interview Questions
> Tell us about your unit/offering
> Tell us about your rol...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Business Goals
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Website Goals: the new website will . . .
> Attract prospective students
> Engage prospective stud...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

1b

Goal Definition: Know thy Audience
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Higher Ed Target Audience
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Interviews
#betterHEweb @zhhender

User Personas
#betterHEweb @zhhender

What is a Website Persona?
A website user persona is a fictional character that represents
a set o...
#betterCCwebsite @ahatony
Barry Antonelli (44 Years Old)

Prospective Student - Online MBA
Family Situation

Single

Occupation

Accountant / Consul...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Users' Goals
Barry Antonelli (44 Years Old)

Prospective Student > Online MBA

Distance Education Goals
Aggregate goals for this group
...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

2

Information Architecture
What is Information Architecture?
IA is the centerpiece of website design & development yet it is the
most commonly overlo...
User G
(

1.0

Programs

(Compare Programs)

2.0

Faculty & Research

3.0

Student Life & Services

4.0

About Us

Undergr...
User G
(

1.0

Programs

(Compare Programs)

2.0

Faculty & Research

3.0

Student Life & Services

4.0

About Us

Undergr...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

It’s all about THEM
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Tenets of a User Centric Approach
> IA of successful websites are designed to get the site’s visit...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Use plain language
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Curriculum Courses
Credit vs. Non-credit

Undergraduate
Interdisciplinary
Degree vs. Certificate
3

Technology Decisions
#betterHEweb @zhhender

CMS Evaluation
#betterHEweb @zhhender

DB-driven CMS Paradigm Shift
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Traditional Website
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Dynamic Website
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Dynamic Website
Tuition & Fees!
Cost Comparisons!
Financial Aid!
Scholarships
Tuition & Fees!
Cost Comparisons!
Financial Aid!
Scholarships
#betterHEweb @zhhender

A new CMS will

NOT NOT NOT
“fix” your website.
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Some things to consider when selecting a CMS
>
>
>
>
>

How complex will your content approval pro...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

4

Visual Design
#betterHEweb @zhhender

“Because 

I like it.”
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Considerations when designing for higher ed
> Exhibit a sense of place
> Stay true to the hierarch...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Content is KING
#betterHEweb @zhhender

What is Responsive Design?
#betterHEweb @zhhender

5

Governance
#betterHEweb @zhhender

What is website governance
& why is it SO important?
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Website Governance
Your institution’s structure
of people, process and policies
to maintain and ma...
well-meaning content
contributors can’t
contribute

content & design 

is off brand
investment into new 

website wasted

...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Creating your plan (the 5Rs)
#betterHEweb @zhhender

The 5Rs *

1

2

Roles

Responsibilities

4

Rules

3

Relationships

5

Review

* Special thanks ...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

1

Roles
Roles

Unit Leader

Responsibilities

Relationships

Rules

Review

Content 

Owner

Content
Contributor

Content 

Editor...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

2

Responsibilities
Roles

Responsibilities

Unit Leader

Content
Owner

Relationships

Content
Contributor

Rules

Content
Editor

Deans, Sen...
Roles

Responsibilities

Unit Leader

Content
Owner

Relationships

Content
Contributor

Rules

Content
Editor

Experts in...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

3

Relationships
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Unit Leader

Content 

Owner

Content
Contributor

Content 

Editor

Web
Management
Team

Informat...
#betterHEweb @zhhender
Content
Contributor
Unit Leader

WAC recommends
disciplinary action
Web Advisory against Content
Co...
#betterHEweb @zhhender
Content
Contributor
Unit Leader

Unit Leader is
informed by
WAC and
enforces action
against Content...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Unit Leader

Unit Leader is
informed by
WAC and
enforces action
against Content
Contributor

WAC r...
#betterHEweb @zhhender

4

Rules
Roles

Responsibilities

Relationships

Rules

Review

Rules
A set of documents including supporting policies, procedures ...
Roles

Responsibilities

Relationships

Rules

Review
#betterHEweb @zhhender

5

Review
Roles

Responsibilities

People

Relationships

Process

Rules

Review

Performance
Roles

Responsibilities

People

Relationships

Rules

Process

Performance

People
Reviews accountability and makes sure ...
Roles

Responsibilities

Relationships

Rules

People

Process

Review

Performance

Process
Reviews whether or not you ha...
Roles

Responsibilities

Relationships

Rules

People

Process

Performance

Performance
Reviews the quality of your websi...
Recap & Takeaways
#betterHEweb @zhhender

Key Takeaways
> GOALS: Every decision made about the website will answer the
question: “Does this ...
Thank you!
#betterHEweb
follow @vispoint | @zhhender
email: zhenderson@visionpointmarketing.com
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
How to Build a Better College Website
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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.

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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How to Build a Better College Website

  1. 1. #betterHEweb @zhhender HOW TO BUILD A BETTER
 COLLEGE WEBSITE
  2. 2. Introductions Zac VisionPoint Marketing >>> @zhhender #betterHEweb <<<
  3. 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. 4. #betterHEweb @zhhender enough about me
  5. 5. #betterHEweb @zhhender Agenda: 5 Steps 1. Goal Setting 2. Information Architecture 3. Technology Decisions (CMSs) 4. Visual Design 5. Website Governance
  6. 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. 7. #betterHEweb @zhhender Current-state of higher ed
  8. 8. #betterHEweb @zhhender The BAD news ...
  9. 9. #betterHEweb @zhhender BAD (many) higher ed websites are really
  10. 10. small, generic photos provide 
 no sense 
 of place
  11. 11. trying to do 
 too much on the home page
  12. 12. mixed up user & global navigation
  13. 13. dated visual design
  14. 14. is that the same person?
  15. 15. #betterHEweb @zhhender The GOOD news!
  16. 16. THERE’S HOPE
  17. 17. #betterHEweb @zhhender 5 Steps to a better college website
  18. 18. #betterHEweb @zhhender 1 Goal Definition
  19. 19. #betterHEweb @zhhender Design goal-driven strategy Technology IA Content
  20. 20. #betterCCwebsite @ahatony 1a Goal Definition: Know thyself
  21. 21. #betterHEweb @zhhender Usage Habits - Events > Respondents were asked to answer questions about their needs and usage habits of the website.
  22. 22. #betterHEweb @zhhender Staff Alumni & donors Leadership graduate students undergraduates
  23. 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. 24. #betterHEweb @zhhender Business Goals
  25. 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. 26. #betterHEweb @zhhender 1b Goal Definition: Know thy Audience
  27. 27. #betterHEweb @zhhender Higher Ed Target Audience
  28. 28. #betterHEweb @zhhender Interviews
  29. 29. #betterHEweb @zhhender User Personas
  30. 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. 31. #betterCCwebsite @ahatony
  32. 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. 33. #betterHEweb @zhhender Users' Goals
  34. 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. 35. #betterHEweb @zhhender 2 Information Architecture
  36. 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. 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. 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. 39. #betterHEweb @zhhender It’s all about THEM
  40. 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. 41. #betterHEweb @zhhender Use plain language
  42. 42. #betterHEweb @zhhender Curriculum Courses Credit vs. Non-credit Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Degree vs. Certificate
  43. 43. 3 Technology Decisions
  44. 44. #betterHEweb @zhhender CMS Evaluation
  45. 45. #betterHEweb @zhhender DB-driven CMS Paradigm Shift
  46. 46. #betterHEweb @zhhender Traditional Website
  47. 47. #betterHEweb @zhhender Dynamic Website
  48. 48. #betterHEweb @zhhender Dynamic Website
  49. 49. Tuition & Fees! Cost Comparisons! Financial Aid! Scholarships
  50. 50. Tuition & Fees! Cost Comparisons! Financial Aid! Scholarships
  51. 51. #betterHEweb @zhhender A new CMS will NOT NOT NOT “fix” your website.
  52. 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. 53. #betterHEweb @zhhender 4 Visual Design
  54. 54. #betterHEweb @zhhender “Because 
 I like it.”
  55. 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. 56. #betterHEweb @zhhender Content is KING
  57. 57. #betterHEweb @zhhender What is Responsive Design?
  58. 58. #betterHEweb @zhhender 5 Governance
  59. 59. #betterHEweb @zhhender What is website governance & why is it SO important?
  60. 60. #betterHEweb @zhhender Website Governance Your institution’s structure of people, process and policies to maintain and manage your website over time.
  61. 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. 62. #betterHEweb @zhhender Creating your plan (the 5Rs)
  63. 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. 64. #betterHEweb @zhhender 1 Roles
  65. 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. 66. #betterHEweb @zhhender 2 Responsibilities
  67. 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. 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. 69. #betterHEweb @zhhender 3 Relationships
  70. 70. #betterHEweb @zhhender Unit Leader Content 
 Owner Content Contributor Content 
 Editor Web Management Team Information Technology Services Web Advisory Committee Executive Leadership
  71. 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. 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. 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. 74. #betterHEweb @zhhender 4 Rules
  75. 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. 76. Roles Responsibilities Relationships Rules Review
  77. 77. #betterHEweb @zhhender 5 Review
  78. 78. Roles Responsibilities People Relationships Process Rules Review Performance
  79. 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. 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. 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. 82. Recap & Takeaways
  83. 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. 84. Thank you! #betterHEweb follow @vispoint | @zhhender email: zhenderson@visionpointmarketing.com
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