Welcome to the first in a continuing series of Web Team news posts reviewing our Best Practices for Department Websites.
Because not everyone has time to come to a face-to-face training, and because the full set of best practices (forty-five topics in all) can be a bit overwhelming, we’ll be providing gentle introductions to our most important best practices in a series of news posts. We’ll provide some of the thinking behind the best practices, and provide links to our documentation.
Our first post is an overview of our news and events strategy. Stay tuned later this week for an introduction to the event details box.
We’ll also be taking questions—check the end of this post for details.
The Web Team has been emphasizing making effective use of your news feed and events calendar for at least a year and a half. And we’ve made keeping up with your news and events the first and second items on our best practices Checklist (a.k.a. “What to Do If You Don’t Have Time to Do Much”).
So probably it’s worth reviewing why we care so much about them.
News and events—while important in themselves—are also a means to an end. Taken as a whole, we want the IUP website:
Keeping the news and events on your website up to date helps on all three counts:
News and events show that you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk. Saying you provide opportunities for students is great. But what university doesn’t say that they provide opportunities for students? Showing those opportunities—by posting information about internships, research projects, special topics classes, and so forth—is always going to be much more effective. (Or, as we’ve put it before, “show, don’t tell.”)
News and events help us broadcast important keywords. People find websites by typing keywords into search engines. If you want to be found, you’ll need to have those keywords on your website. But which keywords? Using news and events very naturally seeds our website with keywords—archeology, paleoclimate, republican china—that match the interests of our faculty, and the interests of the students we most want to attract.
News and events help us illustrate our message pillars. The message pillars constitute our core description of IUP. But just listing them isn’t enough: we need to show how we live those message pillars on a daily basis at IUP. News and events do that, without much planning at all.
And that’s why, if you ask the Web Team what you can do to improve your department website, our first questions are going to be
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t develop quality content about each major or program, or that you don’t need quality photography or video and audio. You do, and those things are on the checklist, too.
But news and events are a central part of our web strategy, and are one of the quickest ways to turn your website around.
If our news feeds were more like blogs, there would be a comment section right here, and we could take comments and answer your questions right here. In lieu of a comments section, send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll address them in a future post.
See you next time!
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