Keep Multiple Audiences in Mind

  • Never create content for your department website with only a single audience in mind.

    Our department websites have many audiences. An incomplete list might include:

    • Potential undergraduate students
    • Potential graduate students
    • Alumni
    • Current students
    • Your department faculty
    • Parents of students
    • Company recruiters
    • Faculty and researchers from other institutions
    • Possible business and industry partners
    • Community members
    • Educators (primary and secondary)

    Give a little thought to this list and you will be able to extend it even further: what about accrediting agencies? prospective faculty?

    But even this incomplete list shows that your website visitors likely vary from age sixteen to eighty, from less than high school education to doctorates, from across the street to around the world.

    Luckily for you, many of these groups actually want to find the same information. You simply need to write or create your content in a way that answers the needs of more than one group.


    Consider a news post, announcing that “Professor Jones has published an article on the chemistry of illudium phosdex.” That single sentence may meet the needs of your own faculty, and perhaps of those in your field. But what about other audiences?

    • A prospective undergraduate student may want to know what illudium phosdex is and whether he can take a class with the professor who did the research.

    • A prospective graduate student may already know what illudium phosdex is. She may be more interested in whether IUP has a reliable supply of illudium phosdex, whether she could do illudium phosdex research at IUP, and whether she could be a research assistant to the faculty member who did the research.

    • Other departments on campus may be less interested in illudium phosdex and more interested in seeing how active your faculty are in research in general, and how well this research is respected within your field.

    • Researchers at other universities and in industry may want to contact the faculty member to get more information, to suggest a collaborative project, or to hire the faculty member as a consultant.

    • An alumnus may want to find the article itself because it provides information useful to his work.

    No news post will satisfy every need of every conceivable audience. But it should also be obvious that a news item that says nothing more than “Professor Jones has published an article on the chemistry of illudium phosdex” is going to disappoint most of its potential audiences.

    Keeping these multiple audiences in mind as you create content is vital to the success of your website.

    (See Make Effective Use of Your News Feed and Events Calendar and Develop Boilerplate Content for some strategies to create effective news posts.)