Want to improve on your website but don’t know where to start? Many website owners think that the only way to achieve a better website is a complete overhaul – a brand new design. In some cases that may be true, but there are also hundreds of improvements you can make on your own to bring your website from bland to beautiful.
Here are 5 steps you can take that will get you well on your way to a better website:
1. Figure out why you have a website
This may seem obvious but it’s often overlooked. Ask yourself these two questions: What are the goals of my website? What do I want the people who visit my site to do? Once you’ve got the answers, make sure your site addresses them.
2. Consolidate your navigation
Do you have twelve items under one category on your navigation? If so, you might want to look at tidying up. A cleaner navigation makes things easier to find and when things are easier to find, it creates a better experience for your site’s visitors.
One easy way to accomplish this is to take a look at the items in your navigation. Are any of them similar? Could they all fit under a general heading? If so, create a page with that general heading. Then combine the content from those similar pages into your new, general page.
3. Give each page a purpose
Every page on your website should be intended to make your visitor act on something. Maybe it’s to get them to watch a video, fill out a form, or direct them to an enrollment page. Whatever it is, make it obvious to the user.
4. Remove the clutter
Do you have the Harlem Shake playing on your homepage? Or maybe you have images for the sake of having images that don’t relate to the page’s content? Remove it all. Why? Nobody likes clutter and it distracts your visitor from the page’s intended goal.
5. It’s weird to be weird
We all have our favorite websites and every day new and mind-blowing techniques pop up on the web. But remember, your website is part of a bigger picture. It should, at least in part, fall in line with the branding guidelines set forth by the OU Homepage. As current and/or prospective students browse from department to department and from college to college, we want them to know that we’re one big, happy family.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, sometimes all the tweaking in the world won’t get you to a place where you’re comfortable with your website. Luckily, if that is the case, the University has provided a (free!) resource that you can take advantage of. Contact your friendly CMS Migrations manager and get set-up with a meeting to discuss a new design and what that entails.
After many months of research, development, writing, information architecture and design, we are finally ready to launch a brand new ou.edu. Take a tour.
Content and design really go hand-in-hand with functionality and the technology behind the site. If it’s not easy for authors to create content and make it look good, a site will easily start becoming inconsistent even with the best intentions. Through web content management (WCM) in Adobe CQ5.4 we’re able to create new components, templates and functionality for our authors to generate content quickly and efficiently. Here Dave Hoecker takes us through the new features of homepage functionality and how we’re achieving these new details:
I hate it when I can’t follow up with CMS users immediately. It really bothers me. Unfortunately, my desk time is limited, and/or I may not have an immediate answer. Also, the campus CMS now supports more than 100 websites and 250+ CMS users, so we’re staying pretty busy.
After a bit of internal discussion and user feedback, we’re moving to a centralized email help desk. Our awesome development team will provide most of the CMS support from now on. Multiple people have access to this account, so it should provide you with a faster response. If you need CMS support or have a trouble ticket, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll respond as soon as we can. If you have a CMS emergency, give us a call at (405) 325-0058.
Stay tuned for additional CMS support improvements….
Why is a mobile site important?
Over 200,000 visitors to ou.edu over the last year have viewed it on a mobile device (smartphones, iPads, etc.). That means that even though the OU homepage is viewable on those mobile devices, it’s difficult to read and navigate since the size is not formatted specifically for a mobile device. This new mobile homepage will give iPhone and Android users an option to view content formatted specifically for the size of a mobile phone.
What is the single most important purpose of the site?
Get prospective students and their parents the information they most want and need from a mobile site. We’ve based content in this phase of the mobile homepage on Noel-Levitz research for mobile sites. (view research here)
Prospective Students, Prospective Parents. Solution is scalable so that we can add in additional audiences in later phases.
- Quick turnaround
- Balance between easy and scalable design/development.
In order to get something up quickly, we focused on only one audience for now and used content that’s already available or easy to gather into a mobile format. Future phases could include additional functionality, audiences and services.
We should compete with mobile sites of other universities. Content, UI and layout should not stray too far from other schools’ mobile sites as prospective students may visit multiple university sites.
When will other departments have mobile sites?
For departments in the Content Management System (CQ5), mobile sites are currently in production and we’ll be releasing a project timeline soon. Stay tuned!
What about mobile apps?
OU IT has developed some wonderful iPhone apps for OU that are already available to download in iTunes (free!). Find out more about OU2GO and OU4U.
What do you think?
Take a look at the new mobile homepage and then complete our survey to help us as we develop new phases.
Our development team regularly releases upgrades and updates to our system, but this time end-users will notice a few changes to the campus calendar. Of course, we still have other beta calendar projects on our list, and we are addressing those as we can.
Here are two upgrades users will notice:
Bring your party hat. I’ll make cupcakes. Slideshow reordering arrived yesterday.
We successfully made it through our first EduWeb Conference a couple weeks ago in San Antonio, TX. It was actually cooler there than it was here, but I’ll resist a rant on the weather…
We (Cassie, Amanda and Erin) met some wonderful people, ate some amazing food and soaked up all of the wonderful content we could possibly manage. There were so many high points to this conference that we can’t name them all, so we thought we’d break it down into a highlight of 3 topics: Mobile, Content Strategy and Social Media.
CONTENT STRATEGY top 5
- What do we want our audiences to believe? What stories will do that? How do we tell those stories to our audiences?
- We don’t have to write new content to tell a story – it can be an aggregation and mix of other content already out there.
- You can accumulate a high quantity of content or curate high quality content. LESS IS MORE.
- Content is the sum of layout, media (images) and text – all three tell a story and lead your audiences to the most important content.
- Aim for consistent content improvement. Eliminate ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) content.
MOBILE top 5
- Start small – you can always add on later.
- Mobile sites can be a recruitment tool for prospective students and parents – 14% of prospective students look at mobile EDU sites.
- Choose the top content and don’t try to publish everything in a mobile version.
- Be flexible and willing to make mistakes.
- Reuse content from your full site – this will keep it updated and encourage less content on a full site.
- Shoot video, post, repeat – prospective students want to see what people, campus and student life is like.
- 39% of parents say Facebook is influential in the college choice. Parents are showing up in social media and want to be involved.
- ROI on social media efforts can be difficult to measure. However, creating a sense of belonging and community influences retention.
- Monitoring and listening to the conversations happening on social media outlets is vital for you to protect your brand, answer questions, make connections, and find your audience.
- Foursquare encourages students to get out from behind the computer screen and out interacting with people. Integration works and incentives work to make this appealing.
If you want to learn more, EduWeb aggregated all of the 2011 presentations here. Enjoy!
The content management system is currently unavailable because we are upgrading from CQ 5.3 to CQ 5.4. The outage will not impact your live website or calendar. CQ websites and calendars cannot be edited during this time. For additional information about the upgrade, please review this article.
The expected downtime is:
- 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday, July 26
- 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 until 8 a.m. Monday, August 1
Please contact Amanda at 405.325.2886 if you have any questions.
Our team spent the past few months preparing for the upgrade to CQ 5.4. A lot of the upgrade will result in behind-the-scene changes to the CMS; however, we wanted to outline it for you.
To complete the 5.4 upgrade, we must bring the authoring environment down for a short period of time. CQ websites and calendars cannot be edited during this time:
- 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday, July 26
- 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 until 8 a.m. Monday, August 1
The scheduled outage and upgrade will not impact your live website or calendar. Content published before 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 will be transferred to 5.4.
Here are a few of the upgrades that users will notice.
- Page Annotation – Users can leave sticky notes and comments in author.
- Workflow Inbox – It’s actually called Inbox in 5.4., and owners may now sort workflows.
- Event content can be reviewed in the workflow inbox.
- Adding Components – When a component is added to a page, it will not automatically open up the dialog box. Our team has identified this as something to address after the upgrade is complete.
- Slideshow – After the upgrade is complete, our team will continue work on a solution for reordering slides within the slideshow component.