How to Prepare

With the new site launching in Fall 2014, departments and schools should use this academic year to rework their Web content so that it is clear, concise, mobile-friendly and based on users expectations rather than University hierarchy.

The Fordham University Marketing and Communications (UMC) Web team will be reaching out to departments and schools to assist in this process but department and school Web editors can begin to prepare by following the steps below:

1. Build a Team

Pull together a small working committee of web editors (those working on the current website) and content specialists (those with the most knowledge of student needs and department resources) to work with UMC and review content. Schedule regular meetings to stay on track and make sure there is a clear line of communication with decision makers such as chairs, deans, or department heads.

2. Identify Your Primary and Secondary Audiences

For much of the Fordham website, the primary audience will be prospective students, but your department may have other secondary audiences such as current students/faculty, donors, alumni, colleagues/peers, etc. Understanding who your audience is will help choose content and set priorities.

3. Articulate Goals and Key Messages

Clear goals and messages not only make for a more impactful website, they also help you determine where best to focus your efforts.

Identify 3-5 goals for your website. They can be lofty, i.e. enhance the reputation of your department, strategic, i.e. increase enrollment, or mundane, i.e. increase attendance at department events. Try to include some goals that can be measured in order to track the success of your new site.

Identify 3-5 key messages to convey on your website that support your goals, i.e. faculty research, state-of-the-art facilities, networking opportunities.

4. Conduct a Needs Assessment

Web content should be balanced between what your users want and what you want your users to see. Conduct a needs assessment of primary and secondary audiences to help identify what content is most important to users and to reveal gaps and holes in information that should be addressed. This can be done formally through a survey or focus group or informally one-on-one. Advisory boards, alumni groups, and student interns can be very helpful here.

5. Conduct a Content Audit

Analyzing current content is an important step in redesigning as it helps to identify out-of-date and irrelevant information and to identify content that should be reworked to make it more user-friendly and effective.

Some questions to consider when evaluating existing pages:

Is it useful and relevant?
Necessary?
Written for the user in a way that’s clear and logically organized?
Accurate, current and complete?
Is it written for your users?
Does what you’re saying and how it’s being said meet your users’ needs and connect with their interests?
Does it use the right tone and style?
Are the images and videos of good quality? Do they communicate the best message?
Is it written in a way that is sustainable? Does it require constant maintenance and updates?
Should we rewrite it?
Is there another department that produces the information that you can link to or use as shared content?

6. Review Analytics

Analyzing current Web traffic can also be helpful in identifying problematic pages (with high bounce rates) as well as popular content (that should be easy to find). Contact Donna Lehmann, director of online communications, dlehmann1@fordham.edu, about receiving a Google Analytics report of your current Web content.

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