More than anything else, websites are visited for the content they offer. While design, interface and architecture all play a role in making a site useful and effective, content is the primary driver of value to the site visitor, and by extension also drives search-engine rankings. Indeed, “Content is king.”
Content is also the most expensive part of a website. It is the part that cannot be generated by machine; at its best, is thoughtful, inclusive, accurate, friendly, perhaps even a little cheeky, should the topic permit. Further websites cannot simply re-purpose print content, text content must reflect online reading habits.
A year ago, Lewis & Clark launched our current website after an extensive redesign process that extended over a year and a half, and through it, we invested a significant portion of the cost of the redesign into the content itself. During this process, some offices, departments and programs re-thought and overhauled their website content. Others merely moved old content into the new package.
Certainly, many of those sites in the latter category are in urgent need of attention. And some of those in the former, frankly, are already in need of refreshing. After all, keeping a website fresh and accurate is like tending a garden — it has seasons, but always needs a little work.
Our Response: The Content Project
Many of us update our website content frequently, But people are busy, and some things get lost over time. In view of this, New Media is setting in motion a process to ensure that we are giving our site visitors our best, most accurate and fresh information.
To keep our content on track, we will be embarking on this Content Project through two major thrusts: an ongoing review and update process and the introduction of new focused content.
Content Project: Ongoing Review and Updates
We will take the following steps to ensure our content is fresh and accurate.
- Start with a content review.
We will be conducting a formal content review of the entire website this September. We will look for errors, outdated content and other issues. Highly public-facing pages will get an additional attention for style and effectiveness.
- Prioritize the results.
Once we have a sense of the state of the site content as a whole, we will prioritize solutions to the content problems we identify, most likely working from most egregious to least, balanced against visibility (as measured by analytics).
- Update the content.
PubCom will work with site editors to improve accuracy and freshness, including helping editors change content to be more evergreen (when it makes sense), or to use dynamic content to help achieve freshness with less work.
- Make it ongoing.
As stated before, good content requires tending. We will talk with site editors about a timeline for a regular content review on an ongoing basis. (LiveWhale has a built-in reminder system for pages — set it for weekly, monthly, or yearly.) Content reviews will be ongoing as well.
Content Project: Focused Content Investment
As part of the above thrust, we will conduct a more intensive, focused review of admissions-related content for all three schools (regardless of where it appears in the Lewis & Clark website) and invest in additional resources to reorganize, rethink, rewrite and produce new content reflecting the needs of each admissions effort.
We expect the majority of our investment to be in the content itself and most likely focused on both text and video content, although it may take other forms, like virtual tour content or the like if that is highly valued. In all cases we will be looking at ways we can use this new content across multiple channels and communication methods.
To accomplish this, we intend to seek funding from the Strategic Initiatives Fund in conjunction with all three admissions offices and, if successful, will likely begin implemention during spring semester.
Have a thought, concern, or question about the Content Project? You know where to find us, just email or call.
David W. McKelvey
Director of New Media