Website Planning and Content Strategy

Website Planning and Content Strategy jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:24

Building and maintaining an effective website requires a significant investment of time and resources.

Websites that are built without planning or evaluation of user needs can become confusing, cluttered, and outdated – a source of frustration for both website owners and visitors.

The resources below will help you create a well-planned website.

Need More Guidance?

The Non-Web Developer's Guide to a Website Redesign

 


All Planning and Content Strategy Sub-Topics

A Non-Web Developers Guide to a Website Redesign

A Non-Web Developers Guide to a Website Redesign
Category
jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 20:51

 

Introduction

Planning a website redesign is daunting, and the process is long and tedious — especially if you don't do it on a regular basis.

Have no fear: This guide aims to help make your job easier by providing an overview of the common phases and resources involved in a website redesign project so that you can set expectations and properly staff your internal and/or external teams. 

Before You Begin

  • Review the process overview below. While the process you ultimately follow may not mirror the steps exactly, it should follow similar guidelines.
  • Familiarize yourself with some basic web development terminology.
  • Download the template, which allows you to fill in your own data and ideas for each step.

    Download the template now

Overview of the Process

Phase One: Plan

Initiation

  • Identify the website’s purpose.
  • Determine success metrics.
  • Identify target audiences.
  • Assemble a project team.

Discovery

  • Assess the current website.
  • Audit current content.
  • Interview stakeholders.
  • Look at competitor websites.

Scope

  • List required features and functionalities.
  • Determine the content management system (CMS), web hosting, and other integrations.
  • Indicate Institute- and department-level requirements.
  • Set a preliminary budget.

Phase Two: Design 

UX Design

  • Draft a sitemap.
  • Articulate user flows.
  • Create content outlines.

Wireframing

  • Design homepage wireframes.
  • Design main template-page wireframes.

Visual Design

  • Using the Drupal theme as a base, determine the overall visual feel.
  • Using wireframes, design homepage and main page mockups.
  • Create and gather visual assets.

Phase Three: Build 

Development

  • Set up CMS.
  • Install and customize the theme.
  • Build page templates.
  • Install and configure any data and service integrations or modules.
  • Program any custom functionality.
  • Customize the backend.

Population

  • Add content including text, visuals, and files.
  • Add links and functionality to the content.
  • Proofread and edit where required.
  • Create a 301 redirect strategy.

Phase Four: Deploy 

Testing

  • Test on different devices and browsers.
  • Track and correct bugs.
  • Find and fix broken links.
  • Optimize and adjust as needed.
  • Test for accessibility compliance.

Launch

  • Assign user roles and train on CMS.
  • Push the new website live.
  • Implement 301 redirects for new URLs.
  • Celebrate your good work!

Maintenance

  • Monitor website traffic.
  • Validate your page load times.
  • Inform linking partners of your new URL structure.
  • Create/update the XML sitemap and submit it to search engines.

Next Step

In the initiation phase, the project sponsors and other important stakeholders will decide whether to commit to the web project and define it at a broad level.

Website Redesign: Initiation

Website Redesign: Initiation
Category
jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 21:30

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 1: PLAN

The project sponsors and other important stakeholders will decide whether to commit to the web project and define it at a broad level.

 

Identify the website’s purpose.

  • What is the rationale for embarking on this website project?
    Example: We want a website that focuses solely on this program and the functions related to applying, enrolling, and being a student of the program.
  • What are your objectives and how will you leverage the website to achieve them?
    Example: Increase newsletter subscriptions by making the web form responsive and brief.

Determine success metrics.

  • How will you measure impact and success?
    Example: Increase subscriptions 10%, from 500 to 550.

Identify target audiences and audience goals.

  • Who are the primary and secondary audiences?
    Examples: Prospective undergraduate students, current undergraduate students, prospective graduate students, current graduate students.
  • Are there any other key audiences that will visit the website?
    Examples: High school counselors, parents of prospective undergraduate students.
  • What are the top three tasks you want each of these audiences to do on the website?
    Examples: Read graduate program descriptions, learn how to apply, sign up for the newsletter.

Assemble a project team.

Who will be involved in the building, launch, and maintenance of your website? To determine whether you may need to hire an external vendor, answer the following questions:

  • Do you have an in-house web developer? Yes/No
  • Do you have an in-house content writer and editor? Yes/No
  • Do you have an in-house designer? Yes/No
  • Do internal team members have the bandwidth to make the website a top priority during key phases of the project? Yes/No

If you answered, “No” to any of the questions above, you should plan to hire freelance professionals or agencies. In this case, you will need to prepare a Scope of Work in order to find the best professionals to work with within your budget.

For those considering hiring a third party for their website work, Georgia Tech has an enterprise-wide contract in place that allows you to quickly get estimates from a group of pre-approved vendors. 

Resources:

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“Around this time, there may be a need to develop a communications strategy around the redesign effort and launch. In some instances, the communications will primarily be internal.” Shayla Hill, Assistant Director - Digital Strategy


Next Step

Once the project has been formally started, all team members should participate in the discovery part of the Planning Phase.

Website Redesign: Discovery

Website Redesign: Discovery jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 21:57

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 1: PLAN

Once the project has been formally started, the discovery phase begins. This phase is meant to reveal the state of your website today and your competitive landscape. All team members should participate in this phase of the project.

 

Assess current website.

If your current website has analytics, pull reports to benchmark for comparison later.

Analyze current content.

Begin inventorying existing website content to determine what content you have on your site, what needs to be updated, what can be removed, and what needs to be created. 

Resources:

Interview stakeholders.

Interview the individuals or groups whose work and responsibilities are affected by how the website performs. Their input will help set a strategic direction that will guide the process.

Resource: Stakeholder Interview Questions

Look at competitor websites.

Perform an analysis of competitor and peer website categories to identify best practices, good ideas to emulate, and bad ideas to avoid.

Resource: Competitive Review Template

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“I actually draft a sitemap before I do a content audit. It helps me to have a really clear idea of the structure before diving into the content, thereby making it easier to eliminate content that is no longer needed.” Ashlee Gardner, Communicator


Next Step

Identify the technical and functionality requirements for the new website during the scope portion of the Planning Phase.

Website Redesign: Scope

Website Redesign: Scope jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 22:00

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 1: PLAN

During the scope phase, you will identify the technical and functionality requirements for the new website. If you need to outsource any work, the information that you have gathered in the initiation, discovery, and scope phases will be critical for the external vendor.

 

List required features and functionalities.

What features and functionality would you like on the site?

Determine the content management system (CMS), web hosting, and other integrations.

Select the CMS and web hosting service that should be used, as well as determine whether the website needs to integrate with any third-party applications (e.g., Mercury, Google Analytics, Salesforce).

Resources:

Indicate Institute- and department-level requirements.

These are requirements related to usability, security, legal issues, page loading times, etc. As a state-funded school, there are several requirements that every Institute website must legally comply with:

Set a preliminary budget.

Establish a preliminary budget for the project and indicate other funding sources that could affect the project.

Resource: What it costs to plan, design and build a custom website.

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TIP:
If you have an internal web developer, they can begin setting up the staging/production environments.

 

 

Next Step

During the UX design phase, you will begin to organize content around your website visitors' needs and your unit's priorities. This begins the design phase of the website redesign project.

Website Redesign: UX Design

Website Redesign: UX Design
Category
jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 22:46

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 2: DESIGN

In this phase, you will draft a high-level organization of the technical, functional, and visual components of the website.

 

Draft a sitemap.

Using the information and data gathered in the discovery phase, sketch out an optimal sitemap. A sitemap will typically mirror your main menu navigation and website pages branching off from those pages.

Resource: Plan Your Site Structure

Articulate user flows.

Map out what each user will do when they visit the website. Outline the series of steps that will be involved in accomplishing each task.

Resources: 

Create content outlines.

Using the user flow information above, list the high-level ideas that you want to convey and that users would be looking for on the main pages of the website.
 

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Make sure all team members familiarize themselves with the Accessibility Primer and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Fundamentals. The two go hand-in-hand to help create a highly usable and accessible website.

 

Resources:

 

Next Step

Built upon a sound UX strategy, the design phase continues with wireframing.

Website Redesign: Wireframing

Website Redesign: Wireframing jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 23:01

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 2: DESIGN

Wireframes are 2D illustrations indicating where the major navigation and content elements will appear on a webpage.

 

Design homepage wireframes.

Include full screen and responsive views/layouts.

Resource: How to create wireframes

Design main template-page wireframes.

Include full screen and responsive views/layouts.

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While this is happening, the content team can begin assigning, gathering, and organizing content. At the same time, the web developers can begin working on any backend features that do not require design. The backend is the part of the website that users do not see or interact with.

 

Resources: 

Next Step

The design process continues with the visual design phase.

Website Redesign: Visual Design

Website Redesign: Visual Design
Category
jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 23:18

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 2: DESIGN

Built upon a sound UX strategy, the design process continues with the visual design of the website.

 

Determine the overall visual feel.

Use the Drupal theme as a base. Be sure to review the Institute's Brand Guide and Web and Digital Style Guide.

Resources:

Design homepage and main page mockups.

Using approved wireframes, design a homepage mockup including full screen and responsive views/layouts.

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Before creating mockups for the rest of the pages, take the homepage mockup all the way through the review and approval process.

 

Create and gather visual assets.

These assets include buttons, calls-to-action, photos, and videos.

Resources: 


Next Step

When all of the mockups have been approved, the project will move into the development portion of the build phase.

Website Redesign: Development

Website Redesign: Development
Category
jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 23:32

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 3: BUILD

When all of the mockups have been approved, the project will move into the development portion of the build phase.

 

Set up the content management system (CMS).

The recommended CMS for Georgia Tech websites is Drupal.

Resources:

Install and customize the theme.

You can find a repo of a static HTML/CSS template for creating a Georgia Tech website on the Georgia Tech GitHub page.

Resource: Appearances and Themes

Build page templates.

A page template is a guide for how a certain type of page will look. When reviewing your sitemap and content outlines, think about how these pages will look. Note that your page templates should match the list of wireframes in the preceding sections.

Install third-party integrations.

Install and configure any data and service integrations or modules. 

Resource: Recommended Systems and Services.

Program any custom functionality. 

 

Customize the backend.


Next Step

When the content is ready, the web developer will populate the new website by transferring existing content and uploading any new content.

Website Redesign: Populate

Website Redesign: Populate
Category
jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 20:40
Tags

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 3: BUILD

When the content is ready, the web developer will transfer existing content and upload any new content to the website.

 

Add content.

This includes text, visuals, and files. The web developer should work hand-in-hand with the designer to ensure that the text and graphics appear correctly on every page. 

Add links and functionality within the content.

Once all of the features and templates have been developed and the content has been loaded, review and collaborate with stakeholders to optimize existing content across key content sections. In other words, ensure that every webpage links to at least one other webpage within your website.

Proofread and edit.

An editor should always review the website content before changes are made live to the public. Additionally, make sure that your website content follows the Institute's editorial style so that the voice is consistent across the Institute.

Resource: Georgia Tech Editorial Style Guide

Create a 301 redirect strategy.

If any URLs are changing on the new site, you’ll need to create a 301 redirect strategy to eliminate the possibility of broken links from other websites that link to the page or from browser bookmarks.

Resource: How to Create a 301 Redirect Map

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TIP:

Once you’ve developed a full 301 redirect map, give it to the developers to implement.


 

Next Step

Next is the testing, where all participants make sure that the website works the way it should before it goes live. This is the first stage of the deploy phase.

Website Redesign: Testing

Website Redesign: Testing jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 23:48

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 4: DEPLOY

The testing phase is for all participants to test the website and fix any errors before making it live to the public.

 

Develop a test plan.

The test plan should include:

  • The actions and tasks each testing participant needs to complete.
  • A priority scale for classifying bugs or issues.
  • A consolidated communication method.

Test on different devices and browsers.

Each participant should click links and view each page on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc., as well as on desktop and mobile devices.

Track and correct bugs.

Often, timing gets tight as you get closer to the launch deadline, so it may not be possible for developers to do everything in time. A priority scale allows decisions to be made in terms of which items are launch-critical versus more minor things that can wait.

Check for broken links.

Resource: W3C Link Checker.

Test for accessibility compliance.

Resources: 

Optimize and adjust as needed.

 

Next Step

Once the site is fully approved, a launch date should be scheduled and the website prepared for launch.

Website Redesign: Launch

Website Redesign: Launch jtomasino3 Sat, 11/16/2019 - 23:56

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 4: DEPLOY

Once the site is fully approved, a launch date should be scheduled and the website prepared for launch. The website launch is when the new website is made visible to the public.

 

Assign user roles and train on the content management system (CMS).

Provide documentation and training for key staff to equip them with an understanding of the CMS and site-specific customizations.

Push the new website live.

Migrate the website to the permanent server.

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TIP:
On launch day, all team members should monitor the site to ensure that there are no issues.

 

Implement 301 redirects for new URLs.

 

Celebrate your good work!

 

Next Step

Moving forward, the website should be updated following a monthly maintenance schedule — at a minimum.

Website Redesign: Maintenance

Website Redesign: Maintenance jtomasino3 Sun, 11/17/2019 - 00:04

A NON-WEB DEVELOPERS GUIDE TO A WEBSITE REDESIGN
Download the template now

PHASE 4: DEPLOY

Moving forward, the website should be maintained on a regular basis. This should include Drupal updates, security updates, content maintenance, and basic page styling.

 

Monitor website traffic.

For two months post-launch, monitor what has changed from your baseline analytics report and alert the team of any issues on a weekly basis.

Validate page load times.

Compare it to your pre-migration baseline.

Inform linking partners of your new URL structure.

Send them your 301 redirect map.

Update your XML sitemap.

Submit it to search engines.

Website Discovery Brief

Website Discovery Brief
Category
jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:25

Before you begin building your website, take a step back to answer some fundamental questions, and develop a strategy to guide the process. To help you answer these questions and develop a strategic approach, we encourage you to use this website discovery brief.

The brief includes a series of prompts to help you think through the website planning process. Completing the Web Discovery Brief will result in a strategic framework you can use as a guide while working on your website.

Website Goals

  1. What are the reasons for considering a website or redesign of your website?
  2. What are your top five objectives for the new website?
  3. How does the website fit in with your communication goals? How do you think you can leverage the website to achieve these goals? (For example, how will the site help enroll new students, encourage donors, etc).     

Website Audience

  1. Who are your current primary and secondary audiences? Can you rank them in size and importance to you?
  2. Are there any external audiences that should be part of this communication channel? (For example, parents, alumni). If so, what information do you want to provide to them?
  3. What are the top three things you want each key audience to do or find on the website? For instance, get informed, find a list services or offerings, support operational activities, enable/support community activities, add or view events, sign up for email newsletters.

Branding and Design

  1. Are you familiar with the branding guidelines for your organization as defined by Institute Communications? Review the Brand Guide now.
  2. How does your audience currently perceive you? 
  3. How do you wish for audiences to perceive you in future? 
  4. What is the single most important message you want to get across to your audience?
  5. List any five peer websites you like in terms of visual design and that you would like to use as a benchmark.
    1. __________________
    2. __________________
    3. __________________
    4. __________________
    5. __________________

Content and Functionality

  1. List any five sites that you like in terms of content and functionality. Which functionality or content do you like, and why?
    1. __________________
    2. __________________
    3. __________________
    4. __________________
    5. __________________
  2. What content/functionality has been successful in your current website? Why is it considered successful?  
  3. What content/functionality has NOT been successful in your current website? Why?  
  4. What content would you like on the website?
  5. What features and functionality would you like on the site?     

Technology

  1. Where is your site currently hosted? What type of hosting do you have? Is this the hosting you would like to use in the future?
  2. Does your site connect to a database? Please describe the type of database, stored information, and requirements.
  3. Is there any technology (software, content management, site analytics/metrics tools, other) on your current site that must be retained? Please describe in detail.
  4. Does your site require any external sites, systems, or software to operate? For instance, does it connect to a database, interact with an external e-commerce system, pull in content from an external RSS feed? Please describe.

Ongoing Maintenance

  1. Who is responsible for the site’s strategic direction, producing its content, and updating it after launch?
  2. How frequently do you plan to or want to update your website's content?
  3. Who is responsible for applying updates to your website's security and modules on an ongoing basis?

Website Marketing and Analytics

  1. Do you currently have site metrics or analytics detailing how many visitors come to the site, what pages they visit, etc? 
  2. How do you currently market the website? What are your plans to market the site in the future?
  3. How do you currently conduct outreach to your audiences that would drive them to the website?
  4. Do you maintain or participate in any other external sites that will drive traffic to or interact with this website?

Plan Your Site Structure

Plan Your Site Structure
Category
jtomasino3 Wed, 04/15/2015 - 16:33

A well thought-out site structure is the foundation of your website's success. Before you start creating pages on your website, plan out its structure. 

Step 1: Plan Your Hierarchy

Your website’s “hierarchy” is simply the way its information is organized. The hierarchy is the basis for the menu and URL structure.

Here is an example of a website hierarchy:
site hierarchy sketch

Think about a filing cabinet

Paperwork is much easier to find when it is assigned a clearly labeled folder. The same rule applies to organizing the webpages within a website. Humans prefer simple, logical organization, and so do search engines.

Tips to help plan your hierarchy

  • Keep it simple and logical: Each main category should be unique and distinct. Each subcategory should somehow relate to the main category under which it is located.
  • Limit the number of main categories to seven: Too many categories equals clutter and confusion.
  • It doesn’t have to be fancy: It’s perfectly acceptable to sketch out your website hierarchy by hand on a piece of paper—or even a napkin, for that matter.

Step 2: Create a Menu Structure

Sample Menu Templates

Step 3: Create a URL structure

The third element in developing strong site structure is your URL structure. Your URL structure will be organized according to your site hierarchy.

If we use the website hierarchy above, the URL structure would be:

  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-content
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-content/pages
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-content/pages/multipurpose
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-content/pages/basic
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-content/pages/vertical
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-content/pages/horizontal, etc.

Additionally, your URLs should be human-readable, which will make your site visitors and search-engines happy.

College Website Information Architecture Template

College Website Information Architecture Template
Category
jtomasino3 Thu, 03/31/2016 - 10:30

The College IA is designed to put your college’s work – academic offerings and research – at the forefront of the website.

Adopting this structure will help ensure a cohesive, unified experience across Georgia Tech academic sites. Users who visit multiple sites, such as students comparing degree programs, will have an easier time finding information.

A streamlined, easy-to-navigate site will also make a positive impression upon prospective students, faculty, and the larger community.

 

Below is a guideline for a college website’s main menu

You are not required to use menu categories that do not apply to your college, and you may have categories that are unique to your college. For consistency-sake, however, it is recommended that you, at minimum, begin the main menu with “About,” and end with “News and Events.” Limit your menu to seven categories or fewer.

 

About

Purpose: To provide background about your college and logistical information

Examples of what to include: Letter/welcome from a dean/chair, general department contact information, buildings & facilities, directions, job opportunities, history.

 

Academics

Purpose: To highlight your academic programs.

Examples of what to include: Information about undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc programs, secondary concentrations, program requirements, classes, admission.

 

Schools

Purpose: To highlight the schools within your college.

Examples of what to include: A high level overview of your schools and links to their websites.

 

Research

Purpose: To highlight the latest research taking place in your college.

Examples of what to include: Highlights of faculty research, overviews of your department’s main research areas, publications, news related to research, cross-university collaborations, and research initiatives or partnerships.

What not to include: Items that are intended only for an internal audience, such as paperwork for research administration or safety procedures; this information should be included in resources.

 

News and Events

Purpose: To showcase what’s happening now in your department, announcements, and upcoming events. 

 

School Website Information Architecture Template

School Website Information Architecture Template
Category
jtomasino3 Thu, 03/31/2016 - 10:23

The School IA is designed to showcase your academic programs, research, and student life.

By using this navigation, you are helping to provide a cohesive, unified experience across Georgia Tech academic sites. Users who visit multiple sites, such as students comparing degree programs, will have an easier time finding information.

 

Below is a guideline for a school website’s main menu

You are not required to use menu categories that do not apply to your school, and you may have categories that are unique to your school. For consistency’s sake, however, it is recommended that you, at minimum, begin the main menu with “About,” and end with “News and Events.” Limit your menu to seven categories or fewer.

 

About

Purpose: To provide background about your school and logistical information.

Examples of what to include: Welcome from a dean/chair, general department contact information, buildings and facilities, directions, job opportunities, and history. 

 

Academics

Purpose: To highlight your academic programs.

Examples of what to include: Information about undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral programs, concentrations, program requirements, and admission. 

 

Student Life

Purpose: To focus on academic and co-curricular elements of student life that are unique to your school or to Georgia Tech.

Examples of what to include: Student profiles, organizations, career development, community outreach, and life in Atlanta.

 

Research

Purpose: To highlight the latest research taking place in your school.

Examples of what to include: Highlights of faculty research, overviews of your school’s main research areas, publications, news related to research, collaborations, and research initiatives or partnerships.

What not to include: Items that are intended only for an internal audience, such as paperwork for research administration or safety procedures; this information should be included in the bottom footer menu under Resources.

 

People

Purpose: To highlight the faculty, researchers, and staff associated with the school.

 

News and Events

Purpose: To showcase what’s happening now in your school, announcements, and upcoming events.

 

Take Stock of Your Current Content

Take Stock of Your Current Content
Category
jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:29

Before moving your content into a new site, we encourage you to take stock of what content exists on your current site and develop a plan for migrating it.

Performing a content inventory and analysis is an excellent way to determine what content you have on your site, what needs to be updated, what can be removed, and what new content you need to create.  

Although any site can benefit from this exercise, this process is especially important for large and complex websites, and for sites that have existed for several years. These sites will commonly have pages that are out-of-date or no longer needed. 

To help you through this process, Institute Communications provides a step-by-step guide to auditing and analyzing your content and a content audit template.

Learn more about the purpose of a content inventory at usability.gov.

Content Audit and Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Content Audit and Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:34

A content inventory and analysis is an excellent way to determine what content exists on your current website, what needs to be updated, what can be removed, and what new content you need to create to meet your communications goals.

After completing an inventory and analysis, it will be easier to build your new site, knowing what is needed and what is not.

Below are some tools and methods you may find helpful.

Step 1: Build the inventory

Make a list of all of your current Web pages and input them into the Content Audit and Analysis Template.

A tool to help speed up this process is xml-sitemaps.

  1. Go to www.xml-sitemaps.com.
  2. Input your website URL into the "Starting URL" field, and click Start.
  3. Once the process is done, select “Download sitemap in text format.”
  4. Save the text document to your computer.
  5. Next, Open the text document, Select All of the text, and Copy it.
  6. Open GT Content Audit and Analysis Template in Exel, and paste all of the URLs into the "URL (Web Address)" column. 

Please note that xml-sitemaps will only generate a list of your first 500 URLs. Any URLs beyond this will need to be input by hand into your content audit spreadsheet. 

Step 2: Evaluate existing content

Look at each Web page and assess its purpose and condition. 

  1. First, set a goal for your content audit.
    Think about your website's audiences and what information they need to find on your site. Keeping these audiences in mind while conducting your audit will help you properly assess whether or not your content is meeting their needs.
  2. Next, grade each page.
    O: Out-of-date. Content that is still useful and will move to the new site, but should be updated.
    U: Unnecessary. Content that is not needed at all. It should not be moved to the new site.
    C: Current. Content that is fine as is, up-to-date, and just needs to be moved to the new site.
    H: Have to write. H will not be used on your first pass of the content audit, so nothing on the "AUDIT" tab should be marked H

  3. Assign an owner to each page.
    This is the person who is responsible for reviewing or updating the page content.

Step 3: Identify gaps in content

Next, think about what content you would like to add to the new site.

  1. Sort your content by grade.
  2. Copy the O and C content over to the tab titled “New Site Content Plan.”
    The U content should be left behind since it is not needed for the new site.
  3. In the “New Site Content Plan” tab, add lines for content you would like to add to the site.
    Think about what kind of content you will need to add to serve your audiences and achieve your communications goals.
  4. Assign all of the new content an H status, as well as a Page Owner and an Update Schedule.
    In order to keep your content as up-to-date as possible, make note of any pages that contain timely content. You should set up a schedule for having the Page Owner review these pages on a regular basis.
  5. Decide which photographs need to be updated or added.

Step 4: Gather and manage content

  1. Connect with the Page Owners
    Start collecting the content you need to have updated or written. Be sure to provide deadlines with lots of padding.
  2. Track the status of each page
    The "NEW WEBSITE CONTENT PLAN" spreadsheet can then become a helpful way of tracking content as you add it to the new site, whether you are simply moving over content, or writing something new. You can use the “Status” column in the content plan to keep track of the process in a way that works best for your organization.

Writing for the Web Guide

Writing for the Web Guide
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jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:31

Visitors come to your website to find information. They want it find it easily, and they want to find it fast. But if it doesn't answer their questions, it will be of little value, no matter how easy your website is to navigate.

Refer to this guide to learn how to create web content that makes your online audience happy.


Writing for the Web Sub-Topics

How Reading on the Web is Different from Print

How Reading on the Web is Different from Print
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jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 10:35

How Users Read on the Web:

They don’t

  • Web users read about 20 percent of the words on a webpage. 
  • The more words on your webpage, the less they’ll read.

They scan.

  • Searching for very specific information.
  • Scanning for headings, specific words, links…anything that catches their attention or matches the reason they are visiting your website in the first place. 

About Those “Users”…

  • They are impatient: You have less than 12 seconds before they click off your page (and perhaps even your website).
  • Providing clear and concise messages is not about user intelligence. It is about the writer making it easy for the reader. 
  • Formatting content in scannable chunks is not about users’ inability to read dense copy. It is about presenting information in the way that people expect to see it on the web.

How to Write Copy for the Web

How to Write Copy for the Web
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jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 10:37

The majority of web visitors do not read all of the text on a webpage. Instead, they skim the page, scanning for headings, specific words, links…anything that catches their attention or matches the reason they are visiting your website in the first place.

Because of the way that people read on the web, it is very important to write clearly and concisely and to format your copy in scannable chunks.

Four Techniques To Use

1. Craft clear, concise messages

  • ​​Get to the point immediately
    • Use action verbs
    • Omit unnecessary words
  • Stick to the point
    • Keep the subject matter of each webpage focused
    • Sticking to one topic per webpage increases its visibility to search engines
  • Then stop
    • Don’t give users a lot of unnecessary or extra information

2. Be straightforward

  • Use common words
    • Plain language helps you communicate more effectively on the web
    • It helps readers find what they need and understand what they find
  • Use action verbs

INSTEAD OF: In order to USE: To

INSTEAD OF: We are currently planning USE: We are planning

INSTEAD OF: When used without USE: Without

INSTEAD OF: Is required to USE: Must

INSTEAD OF: Utilize USE: Use

INSTEAD OF: Facilitate USE: Help

INSTEAD OF: Methodology USE: Method

INSTEAD OF: Sufficient  USE: Enough

INSTEAD OF: Conduct an analysis USE: Analyze

INSTEAD OF: Do an assessment USE: Assess

INSTEAD OF: Provide assistance USE: Help

INSTEAD OF: The use of  USE: Using

3. Use personal pronouns

  • Personal pronouns like “You,” “me,” and “I” pull readers in and make your material more relevant to them

4. Provide basic information

  • In your “About Us” section, state who you are, what you do, and where you are located. Don't assume that everyone already knows
  • Include a tagline on your homepage that summarizes what you do in one sentence or phrase
  • List contact information and a map or directions in a prominent place on your website

Four Things to Avoid:

1. Jargon, industry terms, or academic-speak

  • Avoid using words that typical readers may not understand
  • Many terms that are familiar to Georgia Tech faculty and staff, but not to outside audiences

2. Abbreviations and acronyms

  • Online users who are new to a topic are likely to be unfamiliar with related acronyms
  • Overusing acronyms slows your audience down and increases confusion
  • The first time you use an acronym, spell out each word then place the acronym in parentheses immediately after
  • Don’t use more than two and, at most, three abbreviations in each document

EXAMPLES 

GT
CATEA
CGIS
CQGRD
DBL
GTCMTGIFT
STEP
CEISMC
COACh
GEM

3. “Click Here”

  • Tell your audience where they are going when they click a link
    • Within a sentence, hyperlink a keyword or phrase that matches the content to where the link leads
    • Don’t use the actual URL in your copy unless it is short (e.g., www.gatech.edu)
  • Most stories should contain at least one link to additional information
    • No webpage should be a dead end. Push readers toward other relevant content
  • Too many links in the webpage copy can look cluttered and hard to read
    • A better idea: Provide a list of links at the bottom of the article, or in a sidebar where they will be available but not distracting

EXAMPLES 

Avoid: For the list of winners, click here.

Better: View the complete list of 2014 InVenture Prize winners
 

Avoid:  www.standardandpoors.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobheadername3=MD-Type&blobcol=urldocumentfile&blobtable=SPC omSecureDocument&blo bheadervalue2=inline;+file name%3Ddownload.pdf& blobheadername2=Conte nt-Disposition&blobheade rvalue1=application/pdf&b lobkey=id&blobheaderna me1=contentype&blobwh ere=1245286034462&blo headervalue3=abinary;+c harset%3DUTF-8&blobn ocache=true

Better: U.S. Home Prices Keep Weakening

4. PDFs

  • Not all web users have the software needed to open a PDF file
  • PDFs are hard to read online.  They should be reserved for documents intended to be printed
  • Whenever possible, transfer the information from a PDF to a webpage.  This makes the content readable to search engines, too
  • When linking to a PDF, indicate this fact and list the file size in the hyperlink next to the title, e.g., Download the Graduate Student Handbook (317kb PDF)

How to Format Copy for the Web

How to Format Copy for the Web
Category
jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 10:40

The vast majority of web users don't read webpages word-for-word. Instead, they scan them, looking for the information they came to your website to find.  

Use these formatting techniques to create scannable, easy-to-read pages.

Techniques

1. Use Headings and Subheadings on content-heavy pages

  • Headings that identify sections of your page should be marked with actual heading tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) so that screen readers and other accessibility tools can identify your headings and then allow the user to easily skip ahead to a specific heading.
  • All words are capitalized except articles, prepositions (and, a, the, of) and coordinating conjunctions, unless they are the first or last word.

2. Write meaningful titles and subheads

  • A strong title is vital for a web story. If it doesn’t grab your readers’ attention, they’ll leave.
    • Use a max of eight words.
    • Include important keywords.
    • Use strong verbs.
    • Avoid using adjectives and prepositions.
  • Subheads break up the page into easily digestible chunks.
    • Aim for informative, not clever.
    • Questions are often the most helpful subheadings.

3. Break up content with bulleted lists

  • Lists make it easy for readers to quickly identify all the items or steps in a process.
  • Seven list items max.

4. Split up long sentences 

  • Average length is 20 words or less.
  • No single sentence should be longer than 28 words (and that’s a stretch).

5. Keep paragraphs short

  • One idea per paragraph.
  • Only one or two sentences.
  • Fifty words max.
  • Very often, paragraphs on a webpage are only one sentence long. This is OK.
  • Break up long paragraphs with subheads.

6. Limit the number of words on each webpage

  • Use half of the words (or less) than writing for print.
  • Rather than placing all of the information on a single webpage:
    • Break your information into chunks.
    • Put each chunk on its own page.
    • Connect the pages using links.

7. Use lots of white space

  • Faced with large chunks of text, most web users will leave the page immediately.

External Web Content Resources

External Web Content Resources
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jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:36

These websites and experts are well regarded in the world of web content.  Feel free to browse these external sites for more information about creating content for the web.

General Usability

Reading on the Web

Writing Web Copy

Formatting Copy on the Web

Images on the Web

Find Images for Your Website

Find Images for Your Website
Category
jtomasino3 Fri, 04/03/2015 - 15:46

One of the most common questions that comes up when editing a website is, “Where can I find photos?” Here are some resources for finding quality images for your website.

Before you begin collecting high-resolution photos, take a few moments to visit the Institute Communications site and review the best practices for choosing and formatting images for the Web. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is to choose only photos that visually clarify the words on the page. In fact, website user testing has proven that visitors will completely ignore non-information-carrying photos.

 

Image Portal Photography Database

Institute Communications maintains a searchable database that houses thousands of high-resolution digital Georgia Tech photographs. 

These photos may be downloaded free of charge, but may not be sent or sold to any third party for commercial purposes. Georgia Tech owns the copyright to all images.

Access to the database is available to faculty and staff with a valid Georgia Tech account username and password.

Log in to the Image Portal
Note: The first time you visit Image Portal, you must click the "forgot password" link and follow the prompts. Your username is your GT account/CAS name.

Georgia Tech Social Media Collections

 

Georgia Tech Digital Swag

This site houses high-resolution versions of iconic Georgia Tech images. Because they are designed for different digital devices, the images are available in several different formats.

The images are free to download and use but remain the property of Georgia Tech. The images may not be reproduced for resale or retail promotion without written permission from the Georgia Tech Licensing Department.

Go to the Digital Swag Site

 

Public Domain Images

Public domain images have no copyright restrictions and may be used freely.  Many government agency websites, such as the National Park Service website, offer an extensive collection of images, many of which will be in the public domain (in general, photographs taken by government employees while working for a government agency are considered to be in the public domain).  Check each picture carefully, though, to make sure of its public domain status.

 

Creative Commons Images

Images that use Creative Commons licensing have less restrictive copyrights. Creators often clear their images for use by others, provided that the image is correctly attributed.

There is a variety of Creative Commons licenses, some with more restrictions than others. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines for the particular image you choose.

A good search tool for finding these images is search.creativecommons.

Burst.shopify is a free stock photo site offered under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you may to use the photos for any purpose. 

 

Paid Stock Photo Websites

Institute Communications subscribes to iStockphoto, which is owned by Getty Images, but there are several other affordable websites to choose from.

Here are some of the most popular:

 

Free Stock Photo Websites

Many of these photographs are free from copyright restrictions or use Creative Commons licensing. Be aware that on these websites, every photo may not be free. In addition, you may still be asked to register before downloading images.

 

Your Own Photos

If you consider yourself to be a good photographer but lack the right equipment, you can rent digital and DSLR cameras from the Georgia Tech Library.

Select and Optimize Images for the Web

Select and Optimize Images for the Web
Category
jtomasino3 Fri, 04/10/2015 - 22:31

Use the following best practices below to ensure that your images are appropriate for your website, and optimized for the Web.

Selecting 

  • Used properly, images are powerful tools
  • Choose images that visually clarify the words on the page
  • Web users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information. They completely ignore non-information-carrying photos and graphics

Sizing

  • Compress the file size of your photos as much as you can to make them download as quickly as possible. Remember, web users are impatient

Naming

  • Before you upload a picture to your website, name it clearly and accurately
  • Use keywords in your filename to help search engine rankings
  • If you upload an image, always type a description of the picture in the "Alternative Text" field. Alt text is simply a description of the picture that can be read by web visitors using screen readers. Having descriptions of your image will also help with search engine rankings, and is required by Georgia Tech's accessibility policy.