Website 10-Step Plan

Written by: Anne Holz | IANR Media

  1. Goal. What are the goals for the site— increase graduate enrollment, provide resources, attract new students, connect students with faculty and staff, inform about programs, scholarships, courses, research, events, news?
  2. Audience. Who is the target audience? Can the target audience be segmented—students, faculty, community, businesses, alumni, stakeholders, partnerships?
  3. Navigation (top red menu bar). Does the navigation use words that are relatable to the target audience? The site should have a maximum of six main menu bar links. The main menu bar should link to pages on your site, not external sites. As a general guideline, limit main menu bar dropdown menus to no more than six sub menu links under each main menu link.
  4. Front Page. When someone visits the front page of the site, can they identify the target audience in 3-5 seconds? If the target audience is segmented, does the front page readily direct traffic to sections of the site that are relevant to each segment? Does the front page content communicate the goal of the site and encourage engagement? Does the front page display or link to the most important information on the site? Is the front page distinguishable from the other pages on the site? Is the front page updated regularly with fresh content?
  5. Site Content. Is the content on the site relevant to the target audience? Does the site look professional? To avoid looking spammy, pages should display more than just a list of links— include images, original content, etc. Format text for the web with headings, bullet points, a grid layout, responsive tables, text overlaid on images, etc. Optimize content for mobile and tablet displays.
  6. Links. Use the red link color only on text that is a link. As a general guideline, limit links to a maximum of 100 total per page. Link relevant keyword phrases that describe the content you’re linking to instead of generic phrases like “click here”. When possible, link to the original content source instead of duplicating content on your site. Avoid linking to external commercial sites. Every public page should be linked to from at least one other page on the site.
  7. Images. Does the site use high quality professional images? Do the images target the intended audience? Are the images current—new students, updated buildings and classrooms? Do images have short, descriptive file names and alt text that describes the image for assistive technology like screen readers?
  8. Workflow. Who updates the site? How often is the site updated with new content? Is there a review process? How often is the site re-evaluated to ensure content is up-to-date? Does the web staff know where to go for resources and help?
  9. Analytics. Are you using analytics to identify ways to improve the site? Are department heads and web managers receiving analytics reports periodically? Customize dashboards and reports to display relevant data. Use Web Audit reports to find and fix site errors.
  10. Engagement. How does the site encourage engagement— action buttons, image carousels, online forms and surveys, email newsletter sign up, interactive web design, related links, content wrappers, social media?

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