The offices of University communications and Web and new media recently created and presented a workshop that provided tips and resources for creating online content.
The workshop addressed a number of issues and challenges, including:
- How to organize your website for easy navigation
- Using formatting techniques to make your content mobile-happy
- The value of adding visual elements, such as photo and video
- Telling a story within a limited character count
If your website has been through the Academic Website Project, it’s been organized into a well-tested structure. Even if you haven’t been through this process, you can help users navigate your site by evaluating your needs and goals.
- Evaluate where you are by outlining your website. Ask a student to find something on your website – something straightforward such as internship or scholarship information. Watch his/her process and use that feedback to make your organization more effective.
- Determine your audience and your goals for that audience. (If you have distinct platforms like a website, blog and social media presence, you may be reaching different audiences through each of these platforms.)
Adding new content
If your website’s structure is logical, most new content can be placed somewhere within that structure. When you receive new content, use the following procedure to add it to the appropriate section.
- Determine the purpose of the content.
- Decide whether it’s one-time use or recurring.
- Identify where similar information is housed on your website.
- Ask yourself how people might look for this content and how you can help them find it.
An increasing number of prospective students are accessing college websites solely through mobile devices, which means University websites must be optimized for consumption on smartphones and tablets. Basic formatting practices make optimization simple, including:
- Using internal headings, bullets and hyperlinks so that readers can identify important information as they scan your content
- Writing clear, descriptive headlines in order to provide context for readers
- Adhering to the inverted pyramid style of writing – with your content’s most critical information or theme clearly communicated at the top of the page
Users quickly scan visuals to help them identify content that is relevant to them, so using media that reinforces your content can help attract readers. The University maintains resources for visual elements, including:
- Flickr stream for Missouri State marketing photos
- Missouri State YouTube channel
- Logos and photos in the Missouri State marketing toolkit
Use your departmental blog to add a personal element to grant and award news covered in University press releases.
One good example of storytelling: the religious studies blog shared this photo and anecdote from Dr. Stephen Berkwitz’s travels to Sri Lanka. The post is brief, conversational and puts a “human” spin on Dr. Berkwitz’s Fulbright-recognized work. This post successfully tells a story because it does the following things:
- Tackles one idea or aspect of the research
- Offers a different perspective than what is conveyed through a news release
- Uses details and imagery to stoke interest
Opportunities for further learning
- Attend a future workshop during the fall semester. Each of these topics will be covered in depth during those future workshops. Please watch the master calendar and the Web and new media blog for details.
- Join the Brown Bag Lunch Thursday, April 3. Short and Snappy attendees are invited to join in with any questions about applying the techniques covered during the workshop.
- Learn more about social media at Social Media 101 Thursday, April 17. This information session is ideal for programs that are considering adding a social media presence and want more information about getting started and instituting some best practices.
- Plan to attend the Social Media Boot Camp Tuesday, April 22, for tips about distributing digital content through specific social media platforms. It will feature training sessions on blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This event is free, but registration is required.
- Access the presentation: Short and Snappy: Writing for the Digital World