One of the biggest web problems we have in higher education is the number of cooks in the kitchen. We’ve got SMEs and HIPPOs and the immeasurable plethora of “non web” people making changes to web content throughout the institution. Since there are as many ways to do things as there are people to do them, it all comes out a big mess over time. All the content strategies, web governance plans, and communications policies in the world won’t help if people in the trenches (and often their bosses) don’t understand what’s expected, why, and how exactly they can accomplish their goals. Enter training. In this presentation, I’ll talk about our content strategy journey, the redevelopment of a brand new .edu website, and how we used this process to both make the case for mandatory training and develop training beyond using the CMS. I’ll even make available lesson plans, scripts, and talk about the actual tools used for development of the on-demand delivery system and content.
Content strategy is good for business, but it can be challenging to sell the fundamentals of content strategy to leaders and decision-makers in our organizations. It can also be challenging to stay focused on strategy when faced with multiple audiences, politicized home page real estate, conflicting priorities, and demands on web resources. In this session, we’ll discuss the value of your organization’s strategic plan in the face of these challenges—examining its application for making a case, guiding content and design decisions, and evaluating the success of your efforts.
"I can't find it." Yep, I hear that one too. In fact, it's the most common complaint I hear from students, faculty, and staff about their university website. I also hear them ask: "Where am I?" "Is this for me?" "Where do I go from here?" These questions are symptoms of poor findability—and we need to answer them. No page on our website should feel like a dead end. Institutions that take action often responded to these problems with a redesigned website or new information architecture, but what about the content we create? Beyond SEO, how can we effectively guide web users toward their destination—as well as enable their discovery of useful, relevant content? It starts with a content strategy and continues by educating content contributors about findability and navigation.
Academic program pages are dollar for dollar the most important pages on your institutions site. Why are we not treating them like it? Learn how to craft a user experience and SEO informed content strategy to gain more organic search traffic and better answer the questions of your prospects to generate interest in your schools academics programs.
Higher education is a notoriously decentralized environment — and one of the most difficult to reign in when it’s time to change your school’s content culture. A bit of nesting (visualize Russian nesting dolls) can prepare an organization by providing flexibility while managing individual needs and creativity. In this session, you will learn how the University of South Carolina was able to implement change to build on research-driven brand strengths and created harmony across content teams by layering key university messages, attributes and values to lead content development in teams from publications, web, internal communications, social media and more. Learn how to: • Layer your content strategy to add meaning without overcomplicating your message. • Provide flexibility for content creators while still maintaining brand cohesiveness overall and prepare your teams for change. • Identify champions in your team to help spread the message and build a content culture that everyone can rally behind to bring harmony to a house of chaos.
Personalization gets a bad rap for being a creepy practice. But given the complexity and depth of higher ed websites, delivering relevant content and calls-to-action to our wide range of unique users quickly and efficiently is a must. By serving users dynamic content that speaks directly to their unique needs and communicates in a way that appeals to them, we can cultivate deeper understanding, drive more meaningful actions, and foster stronger relationships. We can accomplish this by inviting user research and content strategy to the party. In this presentation, we’ll use case studies to explain the process behind creating an effective, sustainable, and unobtrusive digital personalization experience that provides relevance for the user and ROI for you. This includes developing personas, identifying user needs and tasks, applying these insights to your website’s information architecture and user flows, developing and delivering relevant dynamic content, and analyzing user behavior to gauge success and refine your approach. The result? A personalized experience that is less like a creepy robot, and more like a friendly human who knows what you need and when you need it.
We all know that our institutions need web governance, yet the road to this utopia always appears fraught with zombies. But without web governance, zombie content will continue to consume our site’s usability, travellers may be mislead by outdated information, and a culture of malaise keeps our sites from moving forward. This presentation will glean insights from cult hit “The Walking Dead” -- and from SUNY Oswego’s massive web redevelopment project -- to show that the journey to web governance is not so scary after all. Disclaimer: Knowledge of “The Walking Dead” is useful but not required; graphic violence is not anticipated; no humans or animals were harmed in the making of this presentation.
Learning to COPE at XU (DPA9)
In 2015 Xavier University rolled out a search-based homepage. After providing such a dynamic homepage, the content strategy was lacking. We started utilizing a blog tool to push fresh content out to our audience but still had a semi-static web presence. We'll discuss the tools we used to build out our CDN and the challenges we faced.
One Cool Thing -- Everyday (AIM10)
Competing for the attention of prospective students, alumni and others is a huge challenge. Take a look at whether developing a mobile app ought to be part of your strategic mix. According to Nielsen, when it comes to using apps versus mobile web, 89% of people surveyed access content using mobile apps, while only 11% spent time using the web on mobile. Learn about how one college marketing department developed an app to ride this wave. One Cool Thing is an iOS and Android app that delivers content supporting key brand messaging — with the specific intention of becoming part of a person’s daily routine. This session will cover how the app was conceived, the technical work that was required to build the app -- but not too technical ;-) -- the editorial work required to maintain the app, and a look at the analytics. We’ll talk about how the app is connected to our alumni magazine, the physical campus via augmented reality, blogs, and other platforms.
Enter a world where inline script and style tags are the norm, content areas have a single focus, and the way you look at web development gets turned upside down. We think of web development by units of sites and pages. But then we turn around and style rules for one particular content area on a single page to a site-wide stylesheet! This mode of thinking by nature limits how we can re-use small blocks. Web components provide a way to think smaller. By destructuring a page into self-contained blocks, we can share not just content, but full interactions across widely disparate sites with ease.
We talk about content. A LOT. But what about the actual words? This practical session is all about finessing your wordsmith skills and adding sizzle to your sentences, no matter what the medium. OK. So you weren’t an English major. You might not recall the terms, but you know when a headline is catchy or a story is compelling—we’ll look at the actual language and explore why that writing sounds so darn good. We will explore some tried and true literary elements and journalistic techniques that make content pop—repetition, alliteration, those sorts of things. Finally, we’ll talk about those sensory details that connect people to content. Also, we’ll explore why brevity rules – how you can make that stuffy report of a webpage into a lively, user-geared paragraph. And how you can turn that stuffy paragraph into a compelling sentence. In all, this session--inspired by a pre-conference workshop of the same name last year--will help you, no matter what your skill level, become a better writer and self-editor for any medium.
A CMS works well for large sites where content needs to be added and updated frequently by many collaborators. Quite often however, content management systems get shoehorned into being the only solution for the web, wasting development time and unnecessary database queries. What about smaller sites, such as course pages & blogs, university marketing campaigns, or portfolios? Static site generators are the answer! Static site generators compile websites -- from source code on your development machine -- to produce plain ol’ HTML pages that can be hosted practically anywhere. I’ll show you how to use them, the popular ones out there, and why they may be more appropriate for that next project.