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CMS Web User’s Toolkit

Content Guidelines

The following guidelines can help you if you’d like to build a new website or refresh your existing website.

A website is a living, breathing organism that needs to be active, current, and fresh to continue to draw new clients and keep the interest of returning clients as well. From a SEO (search engine optimization) point of view, fresh content is the key to getting high rankings in search results. The less often your website's content changes, the less often Google visits, and the less often Google visits, the lower your rankings become.

Before You Begin

When refreshing your content, it's best to consider the following before putting your hands to the keyboard:

Target Audience

Who is the intended audience for your website? If its focus is students, is it for returning students or new/prospective students? Both? Some departments may need to consider other audiences like stakeholders, internal audiences (faculty/staff), or the local community.

Measurable Goals

Do you have measurable goals you'd like to achieve? For example, would you like to have more clients click on a certain form, such as an application? 

Necessary Content

Less is more! Excess detail and jargon can detract from the information that's most important. Review your existing site and determine if the content you’re providing is necessary. If it is, see if there a way to be more concise. Can you turn an eight paragraph statement into two? Can you use bullet points to convey program features quickly and clearly?

Navigation

Hick's Law states that “The more choices you give someone, the longer it will take them to make a decision”. The same is true for websites. Simplifying your navigation link titles and keeping the list short (5-9 links is ideal) allows the user to make quick decisions and reduces the user's frustration, encouraging them to spend more time on the site.

Plan your navigation tree out in advance of building your website. A sample tree can be found here. Also, a blank version of the template is available here.

Images

Consider the images on your website. Are they outdated? Are they of good quality? Are there enough of them?

Are there opportunities to add more images that will liven up your content?

Make a plan

Refreshing your site can be a daunting task if you’re not prepared. Like a course or an academic paper, building an outline for a website can be very helpful. Take the time to write out each piece you’d like to refresh, and assign a timeline to each element.

Draw out your vision on paper so you have something to reference as you move forward. 

Implementation

You’ve reviewed your current site and have a few ideas on how to improve your site. Now it's time to get started!

Contact the Helpdesk

Technology Services can provide a development site for you to work on your site refresh. This allows your current site to remain untouched while you work on the new and improved site.

Text Content

When refreshing a site, it’s best to start with text content. If you have any existing content you plan to repurpose or refresh, begin there by removing any content you don’t plan to use moving forward.

Any new content that is written for the web should be short and factual. Adding “fluff” filler content only causes the client to become disengaged and lose interest. Remember to consider your audiences, and the fact that not everyone will be familiar with institutional or academic language, jargon, and campus acronyms. 

Images

When placing new images on your site, be sure to consider the size of the image you’re uploading. A smartphone with a 10 MP camera can create an image that is 3648x2736 (you can find this number by right-clicking on the image and viewing the properties) and up to 30 MB in size. This will cause your site to be sluggish and extremely slow to load the image. It’s recommended no image over 1600 px wide is uploaded to the CMS. Generally, a resolution of 800x600 will be an appropriate size (excepting banner images or slideshow elements).

Navigation

Your navigation should write itself based on the content you provide on your site, so this should be the easy part!

Short, clear, concise titles allow for quick decision making by the audience, keeping them engaged and their experience positive.

Pass it around

Share your website to your colleagues and solicit their feedback. Ensure they are able to see your vision without you having to explain what you’re trying to do.

Contact the Helpdesk

Now that you’ve completed your refresh, contact the service desk to request a go-live of your development site.

Please note: If this is a new site, go-live requests that come in by end of day Thursday will go live the following Tuesday. Existing sites are handled as they come in.

Available Resources

Additional training is available upon request and subject to scheduling restrictions

The office of Communications and Marketing can support you and any marketing material you may need for your site.

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