Content Development

You only have a few seconds to catch your visitor’s attention with your content. If you don’t have what they’re looking for, they’re leaving.

Strong content makes your department a strong choice for a student’s major or program and makes it more likely that prospective students from the local area or across the country can find you online.

Beyond Words

Being a strong writer is only part of the battle. You will need to consider many things beyond the actual words you create in terms of your web content. For example, your visual content is just as important as your written content. As a Web Ambassador, you have access to upload media for your site. We have some guidelines for media on your site in our Procedures & Standards. If you need assistance creating that strong visual content, please submit a Project Request Form with the Office of Communications and Marketing.

It may be difficult, but it's vital to think of your content as a whole picture beyond any one piece. That whole picture will be unique to each site, but the Web Team is here to support you. 

With the whole picture in mind, you're ready to start considering the words you need to give your content the right impact. Follow these steps when writing your content:

Make your Content Stick

We need to keep in mind that our site is not for us, but rather for the people that use it. As an institution of higher education, we typically cater to multiple audiences from prospective students, their parents in high school counselors, to current students, alumni, and our faculty and staff.

While we keep this in mind, it's important to narrow down our online messaging to a single targeted audience. This target audience can be different among the departments on campus.

For many of our sites, our primary audience will be prospective students.

When creating content for our site, we must remember that if we put a high priority on everything for everyone, nothing actually takes priority and our message gets lost or presented to the wrong people who don't actually benefit from what we have to say.

Put a Face to your Concept with a User Persona

User Personas are profiles we use to picture our audience. 

We have a set of user personas put together for you to use here. Or you can practice making your own!

When you have your user persona ready, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • What are they looking for?
  • What will a degree from your department or college provide for them?
  • What do you want or need them to know?

We need strong content — written and visual — so that students and faculty want to be a part of your college but also succeed and excel while they’re here. 

Knowing your voice (or rather, the University's voice) starts with knowing what message you are trying to convey. Learn about the University's key messages.

A few more guidelines about the University's voice:

  • Use a conversational tone. Use “us,” the institution and “you,” the reader.
  • Remember, a lot of our audience's may not know terms that we use regularly, it's important to user familiar terms at a level that is accessible to those who are unfamiliar with the lingo.

First thing's first: know what content you need to fill. Use our Web Writing Checklist to know all the pieces you need to gather. 

Then you can gather that information with the help of our Content Gathering Questions

Meet with the content matter experts within your office or department if you need to workshop your site content together. Faculty and staff will likely have a good idea of what students often look for within their office or department. 

Once you have your information gathered, it's important to think about the best way to format it for your site. Knowing which site components work best to display your information can make all the difference when trying to get your message across. 

Remember a few basic rules for web content:

  • Bullet points and white space help your reader effectively skim your content for what they need.
  • Avoid ALL CAPS, too much unnecessary italics, and centered text for both readability and accessibility on the web.
  • Do not use images as your only source of information. You must provide sufficient alt text when your images include text and if your image breaks, or cannot load, your only source of information is no longer able to provide that information. 
  • Readability and accessibility go hand in hand, so consider looking into the ADA's Guidance on Web Accessibility.