Marketing & Communications - Planning a new website

Planning a new website

What is the purpose of your website?

Knowing what the overall purpose or goal of your site is vital. The 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:

  • Market your department's programs
  • Market events
  • Provide vital information to different audiences
  • Fundraise
  • Provide documents or research data
  • Sell merchandise
  • etc.

Who is 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...

What is your 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. You can either list pages by importance or alphabetically. 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 (slideshow, 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)

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.

If you have any questions please contact Scott Kadera.