Now I’m piggybacking pretty heavily here on a post by Seth Godin today, but I felt it was a timely post and one I’ve touched on before. As you might not, the real reason I started this blog in the first place, was as a place to log my thoughts in the process of the various web redesigns I’ve been a part over the past few years.
So much the redesign process in higher education is about pleasing a ton of people who often times don’t understand what really goes into getting a new site up and running. Other times, the process involves a metric ton of folks who all have their own ideas of what the site ought to look like, do and how it should work. It can be exhausting for the people charged with figuring it all out and making it work, especially if they’re working alone or don’t have the best support system.
Seth’s suggestions were useful for business, but for higher ed I think the things to ask might be a bit different, so I put together my own list of questions you ought to ask before lifting a finger to start your web site redesign: (in no specific order)
- Who are we trying to reach?
- Who are we reaching effectively right now through our other campaigns?
- Can we save money by melding print content onto the web? Will this help us reach a wider audience?
- What about auxiliary, constituent and other organizations attached to the school who have separate sites? Will they be folded into a new site, if at all?
- Does athletics need a separate web presence? Have we included them in the process?
- Will a new site help us communicate who we are better to our intended audiences?
- What are we doing right online right now? How can we improve on that with our existing web presence?
I’m just scratching the surface here, but it really depends on the college or university. Ultimately, redesigning your web site is akin to erecting a new building on campus. It’s not just a piece of marketing material, for the time it exists it’s part of your physical plant. People will see it more than they see obscure buildings on your beautiful campus. If it’s an eyesore, if it’s difficult to use and fails to provide information about your school that people are looking for; every visit will be like getting lost in a huge building with no one to guide you.
What are your suggestions? What should people ask before embarking on a web site redesign?