So your school is planning a long-overdue website redesign. But how do you balance ambitious goals with the realities of day-to-day site management, feature optimization, and maintenance? Recently, Stamats’ own Lin Larson explored this topic in a webcast hosted by our content management system (CMS) partner, OmniUpdate.
With more than 20 years of higher education marketing experience, Lin’s focus goes beyond site launch to encompass site sustainability. In a clear and practical five-phase process, Lin examines the fundamental questions that should guide all effective site redesign initiatives today: How can institutions of all sizes and resource levels design sites that drive engagement post-launch? How can schools build dynamic digital platforms for storytelling that marry the best editorial, visual, and interactive content? And, how can holistic- and detailed-site planning directly support brand messaging and ongoing institutional success?
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the phases and related design considerations Lin discussed:
Phase 1/Discovery: With your redesign goals top of mind, clarify the priorities for your new site early by understanding your primary audiences, messages, message integration points, and strategic emphases.
Also, consider the people and processes that will move the project forward. Begin by asking yourself: How can I build a strong network of internal support across diverse departments and stakeholder groups? How can our teams foster a spirit of true collaboration and capitalize on the talents of everyone? Who will be directly involved in the site maintenance and management now, and how does that team need to expand? How can workflow be more flexible and efficient?
Phase 2/Architecture: Along with navigation structures, establish detailed specs for page and template features, clarifying how they will be managed and maintained post-launch. What is the purpose of each proposed feature and what content elements will be required? How often will it refresh? Can the feature be automated in any way? Answering these questions up-front will help determine resource needs and simplify design work.
Phase 3/Design: Paying close attention to visual content capabilities, design for flexibility and multiple uses. For some features, consider making images options instead of requirements (to easily adapt on those occasions when the perfect image isn’t readily available) and design so that visual assets can be leveraged in different ways without the need for labor-intensive photo editing. Likewise, determine acceptable quality ranges for specific content features (e.g., What areas are reserved for polished and original images? Where can stock photos be used?). Finally, consider growth opportunities for visual content. How could your institution bolster resources by training staff, shifting current editorial positions to focus on visual content, and engaging skilled students?
Curious about phases four and five? (Hint: they’re all about implementation, launch, and assessment.) Watch the 20-minute webcast and learn how your team can design a site that’s successful, sustainable, and endlessly adaptable. Or, to find out how Stamats and OmniUpdate are partnering to deliver smarter web development services to higher education, call 800-553-8878.