Higher Education Web Content Strategy

Bring out your dead (content).

I’ve been working with this university for a few months now and I figured that a quick write-up on what I’ve been doing might not be amiss. (Enjoy the Monty Python inspired subheadings.)

Now don’t do it again.

First thing–I wish I’d been here three months before they decided to go to Drupal. A content audit, definite and direct plug in to the analytics, and a unified strategy with a definitive end-point for content would have made this task much smoother. We’ve only just finished transitioning content–we think. And because the go-live date was pushed back so many times, people had to go in and update content they’d originally put in months prior.

Right, enough of the complaining. I’m just sad that I didn’t get to do all the content analysis, because that’s almost as fun as editing. (No, I’m not being sarcastic. Editing is damn near therapeutic.) What have I enjoyed the most about all of this? Training content editors.

No one is to stone anyone until I blow this whistle…

It’s pretty sweet to have answers to all the inquiries from the web team as they edit their own content. I’ll share some of the questions I’ve received since I’ve been here:

  • How can we add Adobe Captivate videos to our site if .swf files aren’t supported by the CMS?
  • Can I copy and paste content from the old site to Drupal?
  • If I create a page–where does it go in the navigation? People will kill me if they can’t find these files.
  • What’s taxonomy, and what does it do?
  • What do you mean the programmers will pull different content into a view?

Questions I’ve tried to get answers to and eventually figured out some way or other:

  • If I’m your target audience, why would I need to see all of this?
  • Could you say all of this in fewer than 12 different pages–maybe in one or two?
  • Can you put it in one spot or the other–two places for the same thing will just cause confusion.
  • Couldn’t they just Google that? Why do we need it on the site?
  • If I’m using this website, I want it to be relevant to this university and this department–is it?

These are the kind of things that go back and forth between myself and the SMEs/content editors. One minute I’ll be teaching them about why the accordion broke down, and the next they’ll be explaining who uses the document, what they need it for, and why they’ll be looking for it in their section of the website.

We’re slowly pulling each other up to speed in our respective domains. Video tutorials have had about a 50/50 success rate. The team members who’ve asked for specific answers have really appreciated having the videos for reference–especially over such a long time of building. Other team members haven’t really seen the light on the videos. The biggest problem there? I don’t want them to dislike the video and decided that the video is the end of my assistance. “If you don’t watch and like my video tutorials, then I’m not going to help you out with your content in person.”

Please don’t think that’s in any way how I actually feel about this.

I like making videos as references in case I’m off-site or somehow unavailable, but face-to-face is even better because I can tailor the help to your very specific issue.

I don’t know that!?

I’ve also been asked to do some actual Drupal development. It started out as something I could create outside of the CMS, but since then has changed to Drupal–that shouldn’t change the difficulty, right?

It does. I can hook up a website with SASS and JQuery if I need to, but I’ve never worked in the development area of Drupal. Am I excited, sure. I get to learn new stuff. Do I want to have to wade through all of the begging and pleading to get hooked up into the development side of things just to tinker with one webpage–no. Will I be able to do anything else while I get up to speed with all of this stuff? Probably not.

If you’re reading this and thinking that it’s not that bad–leave me a comment and explain why I should be more enthused about this. Seriously.

Thanks for reading.

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About owenpm3

I'm a student at USU majoring in Technical & Professional writing.
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