Marketing & Communications

How To Plan A College Website

Establish a purpose for your website:

A web site purpose will help you begin building a list of items that will eventually become the content and navigation structure of your site.  This is where you take a 30,000 foot view of your web site by listing general categories that can be broken down later.  The purpose of a college website might include:

  • Convey information about your department for students and their parents
  • Provide content about your department for administration, faculty and other academic institutions
  • List office hours and contact information
  • Answer common questions
  • Provide documents and forms
  • Post a calendar of events
  • Share recent news
  • Post photos of events or projects
  • Sell merchandise
  • Provide research data
  • etc.

Determine your audience:

Understanding the interests and needs of your visitors will help you provide the content and navigation structure that meets their expectations. Knowing your audience will also guide you to design a web site that will be visually interesting and inviting for visitors.

  • Prospective students and their parents
  • Current students
  • Faculty and staff
  • Administrators
  • Donors
  • Community Members
  • Alumni
  • Others...

Design a navigation structure

Your site navigation is one of the most important aspects of your website. It will help users find the information they are looking for quickly and easily. Typically, you would list the pages by what your users would consider most important. The links should be short but meaningful and easily understood. It is best to use an outline format and list the name of the page followed by the content or function that will need to appear on that page. Thus, if your primary audience is Prospective Students then you may organize the pages like this:

  • Home (marketing speak about our program)
  • Our Program (classes offered and program requirements)
  • Financing your Education (general description about financing opportunities w/links to financial aid)
    • Scholarships (specific info and link to application form)
    • Work Study (current opportunities)
    • Grants (specific info and link to application form)
  • News & Events (departmental news and an event calendar)
  • Study Abroad (specific info about program including dates, deadlines, application process, fees, etc)
  • Research Opportunities (list of past projects and how to sign up for future projects)
  • Our Faculty (faculty bios, contact info and headshots.)
  • Contact Us (contact info and an email form that goes to admin or dept chair)

Organize website information:

Now that you know what pages will be on your site and what needs to go on them, simply use that as an outline to generate the copy. The goal is to organize information so that it is easy to read and understand. While you can usually get this information from existing documents, you will want to proof read all the information and organize it in a logical, attractive way before the site goes live. It is very important to keep your purpose of the site and traget audience in mind when writing copy. Copy that is too long or dull will be ignored by your audience while being too casual or brief could make your department see unprofessional.

Adding photos & images:

Given the popularity of digital cameras, it may seem easy to add photos to a website but it can actually be quite difficult.  While you can add just about any photo to your personal website or Facebook page, the photos on your departmental site but reach a higher standard. First, FLC policy stats that the people in the photo must sign a waiver that allows you to use their image. Second, the subject matter of the photo should be appropriate to the content on your site and should appeal to your target audience. Third, the photo must be of good quality, not dark, grainy or blurry. Finally, the photo should be of the right size, resolution and format.

  • Format: JPG, GIF & PNG
  • Resolution: 72 DPI
  • Max File Size: 200k
  • Max Image Size
    • Two Column:                  710px wide x 300px tall
    • Two Column – Left Pane:  420px wide x 300px tall
    • Two Column – Right Pane: 260px wide x 300px tall
    • Three Column:                 510px wide x 300px tall
    • Right-hand Sidebar:          192px wide x 400px tall
  • Free Image Editors