Planning Your Higher Ed Website Redesign Webinar: 5 Key Takeaways

August 12, 2013

OHO's recent webinar, Planning For Your Higher Ed Website Redesign with Jason Smith, gave a thorough overview for digital strategists looking to improve their institution’s website. Webinar attendees heard specific tactics they can take to ensure a smooth process. If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recorded version at the bottom of the post.  We’ve also summarized the top 5 key takeaways below.

Define Your Business Goals and Metrics

It’s important to identify and state what you are trying to achieve through a website redesign before you get started. Whether your goal is to increase inquires by a specific number or decrease your reliance on your IT resource, you’ll want to clearly outline your goals and assign measurable metrics as it will help to focus your organization and allow your vendors to create directed solutions.

Conduct a Site Audit

It may sound basic, but conducting a site audit is the single most helpful exercise to begin to scope the work for your redesign. Cataloging your website and defining the pages that need to be re-written is key to understanding how in-depth your project really is.  The audit process will clarify what sections of your site should be in scope and will help you make important decisions about your redesign.

Identify All Current Integration Points

You’ll want to document if your site currently uses integration points such as Calendar, SIS, or LDAP, so that you can understand the complexities of integrating them into your redesign if you plan to continue using them. Also, explore your options from various software vendors so you can understand what the integration experience is like for each point you use.

Determine a Governance Plan

Build a preliminary plan that outlines standards for updating and maintaining your new site. The plan will likely be refined as you go through your redesign process, however having a good framework is helpful for your RFP. Your governance plan should address the following areas:
  • Avoiding stale site content
  • Empowering and restricting content producers and publishers
  • Establishing a content workflow
  • Defining roles and permissions
  • Building your CMS to enforce web standards – gently
  • Maintaining and building SEO
  • Guidelines on social media

Plan Your Vision

Think about the user experience you want your site to offer and incorporate that vision in your planning. You’ll want to:
  • Define your primary audience and focus the site on their needs
  • Plan and define solutions for other groups that will be using the site but aren’t the primary audience you are serving
  • Conduct research to validate your assumptions and existing market strategies
  • Develop your brand message and content – photos and video are content too
  • Consider your mobile audience and plan for a responsive website

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