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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

When Do I Get My WordPress?!

When Do I Get My Wordpress!?

By: Brian Marker - Web Content Specialist

I’m sure by now you have heard rumors floating around campus about some “new web thing” called WordPress. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what WordPress actually is. Here, you’ll find out how you can prepare your site for the transition from Web Manager to WordPress and get some tips on what to expect during the transition.

 

What is WordPress?

WordPress LogoWordPress is a free, easy to use Content Management System (CMS) that comes in two variations: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The “.com” version of the tool is a stripped down, basic version of WordPress that is primarily used for blogging sites. The “.org” version is a hosted solution that offers a wide array of customization options. Wordpress.org is used for major websites across the web that range from online storefronts, news sites, and higher education websites.

Although Web Manager has served us well over the years, it has presented several problems for users trying to edit their pages. It also lacks some important features that come standard in most of today’s CMS tools. Instead of rebuilding Web Manager (which was built in-house here at Liberty), the web team decided to move to a more globally utilized tool that handles everything that today’s web trends demand. WordPress is more secure, has more features, and works great on mobile devices.

 

How Can You Prepare?

In preparation for our move from Web Manager to WordPress, there are some things you can do to get your pages ready. The first thing we suggest you do is to conduct an audit of your website. We spoke about this in greater detail in our last blog post, but it is a good concept to reiterate here. Take some time and go through all of your pages. Is there outdated content? Can some things be deleted? Part of this process is to ensure that your pages are accurate and free from any ROT content. Completing this step will give us a clean and easy to transition site (which means a quicker move to WordPress for you!).

 

What Can You Expect?

So now that your site is accurate and ready to go, your next question is most likely going to be, “When do we get to move to WordPress?” Academic departments are going to be the first departments to move to WordPress. When your department is ready to be moved, our team will work with IT Development to transition your existing content and make sure everything works and looks great. Before the site goes live, we will set up a training time with you and your department’s users so all of you can get some hands-on experience with your new site.

Moving to WordPress over the next calendar year will bring lots of opportunities to improve both the user and editor experience. And since WordPress is such a popular CMS, there are tons of tutorials, tips, and tricks available on the web. Let us know if you have any additional questions about WordPress … we are here to help!

 

Posted at 9:42 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Less is More: How To Audit Your Own Site

Less is More: How to Audit Your Own Site

In our last blog post, you learned about user journey. One thing that can really help your user journey and overall site is a content audit.

After you audit your content, you’ll likely have fewer pages and fewer links, for easier content maintenance. Or, you may find that you are missing content and need to add pages.

Taking stock of what you have and what you need will help you create a better user journey. And, now that you have eliminated unnecessary information, your users can focus on the content that matters.

Conduct Your Audit

1. Take a look at how many pages you actually have.

For a list of every page within your department, click “Open Page” in Web Manager 2.0.

Now you can see every page (PID and Page Title) within your department. To open one, double-click the page you wish to open. Or, you can highlight one by clicking on it once and then click “Edit Page.”

What the Colors Mean:

  • Black: This page is live.

  • Yellow/Gold: This page has been submitted for approval. It has edits that are not live. If you’re not an academic department whose pages are approved by Web Content, make sure to follow-up with your publisher to get these edits made live. All academic department pages are approved by Web Content.
  • Red: This page is in development. It has edits that are not live. Check over your content by clicking “Preview,” then submit the page for approval.

For an easy way to keep track of your page edits and notes, you can click “Printable List” and copy and paste the information into an Excel sheet.

2. Go through each page, removing anything that is:

  • Old, inaccurate, or irrelevant
  • Already elsewhere on your pages, and in a better location
  • Too short and can be moved to a better location. Once you move the information, you can delete this page altogether!
  • Related to information on other pages and can be consolidated onto one page. If you consolidate pages, you now only have one page to update and your users only have to look at one page to get their questions answered.

3. Look for long paragraphs and see if you can simplify it down to a couple of sentences. Or, better yet, bullet points.

Use headers to separate your information into manageable portions. Users will scan headers to see if the content beneath will contain the information they need.

Use keywords in your headers to help your users find what they need quickly.

4. You can often remove the first half of a sentence and begin with the verb.

  • Okay: It will help you discover your talents and interests, so you can choose a major that fits you.
  • Better: Discover your talents and interests and choose a major that fits you.

5. Anytime you see “student,” see if you can change it to “you.”

Change the information around it to match. This updates the entire information to be conversational and web-friendly.

  • Okay: Student coursework will be completed in the first two years allowing students to focus on their own teaching as well as their research project.
  • Better: Your coursework will be completed in the first two years, allowing you to focus on your teaching as well as your research project.

Remember, on the web we are you-focused. Write your content as if you are talking to someone, using you, your, you’ll, etc.

Last, but not least, reach out to us in Web Content! We would love to help you improve your site.

More Reading to Improve Your Site:

 

Meet the Author

Rhea Crider

 

Rhea Crider
Web Content Associate
External Communications

(434) 582-7440
rcrider1@liberty.edu

Posted at 3:09 PM | Permalink

Friday, August 17, 2018

User Journey: Creating Pages Your Users Want to Visit

Maintaining Pages Your Users Want to Visit

By Tyler McBee

You've created your pages, set-up your navigation, added header images, and double-checked all your links. Your page is live and ready for all the world to see.

But have you considered your user's journey?

User journey is simply how a user navigates to and interacts with a particular webpage or set of webpages. By understanding your user journey, you can gain insight into your user's behaviors and determine how helpful, or confusing, your page's current layout may be.

Here's an example:

Let's imagine that one of the goals for the Visitors Center is to have prospective undergraduate students visit campus for a tour during the summer. They have an end-goal, so let's see how a user may get from Point A to Point B.

Watch This Example User Journey

The Visitors Center gave clear, short descriptions of each of the types of tours they offer, as well as a button on a prominent part of their page allowing users to register for a tour. The visitor didn’t have to search for information or figure out how to register for a tour. It was all right there on the page for them to see.

What Now?

Think like your user. Have someone who isn’t familiar with your pages try to complete different tasks and see how user-friendly your pages are.

So, what are your department’s goals? What do you want your users to do once they’re on your page?

Considering user journey and your department's goals for your pages will help inform the layout of your page's content, creating a better experience for your users.


Meet the Author:

Tyler McBee

tmcbee1@liberty.edu

Web Content Associate — LU Web Content Team

Posted at 9:51 AM | Permalink

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Don't Click Here!

Don't use

By Diane Austin

If you want your audience to find, read, and understand your web content, you need to present it in a way that makes it easy for them. That means using the right words and putting them in the right context. People come to your website to get information or to accomplish a task. They don’t come for a scavenger hunt or to read a novel.

With that in mind, here are the top 3 phrases you should eliminate from your web content. 

  1. Click here – When you need information and you’re trying to get things done, the last thing you want is a mystery link. You’re on the trail of some information. You’re scanning headings and links. When you encounter a “click here” link, you can’t be sure where it will land. “Click here” has what’s called a low information scent, and it’s useless for visitors with visual impairments who rely on screen readers.

    Instead, use link text that indicates what the link is for.

     Don’t say:  For more information on the admissions process, click here.

     Say: Admissions

    Smashing Magazine was telling people in 2012 to never use “click here” links. If you are still doing it, you’re way behind the times.
     
  2. Read More or Learn More – This type of link has the same problem as “click here.” The link itself doesn’t indicate what the reader will read more about. If the user has read everything that precedes the “read more” link, then they might know what to find. But if the visitor only scanned the content, they may be lost.

    Instead, use link text that indicates what the visitor will read or learn more about.

     Don’t say: Read More 

     Say: Visit our blog archives to get more web content tips.

    Also, see this Nielsen Norman Group article for more "Learn More" alternatives.
     
  3. Helpful links – This is the least helpful title for a group of links. All of your links should be helpful. Isn’t that why you have them? This is a mystery title that, ironically, doesn’t help your audience.

    Instead, think about what really ties your links together and label them accordingly. You may discover that they don’t belong together at all. If that’s the case, try rearranging all your links into more meaningful categories or labeling them by audience.

    Gerry McGovern recently published an article on the topic of “Quick Links,” a category heading that suffers the same problem as “Helpful Links.”
     

Sometimes these phrases are difficult to work around. If you’re struggling, contact the Web Content team, and we’ll help you figure out solutions that better serve your content and your audience.


Meet the Author:

Diane Austin
dyaustin@liberty.edu
SEO Specialist – LU Web Content Team

Posted at 2:24 PM | Permalink

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

4 ConfabEDU Takeaways We Can't Implement Alone

Confab HigherEd 2017 Lanyards

By Jason Pope

The speakers! The networking! The cake!

There’s so much to love about the Confab Higher Ed content strategy conference we attended. But among my favorite things are the takeaways – those actionable tidbits that we can bring back and implement for the good of Liberty, our web users, and our websites.

But we can’t implement every takeaway alone; not even with the help of our awesome Web Content Team. We need you – the content contributors, the subject matter experts, the Web Manager users – to work with us.

Here are four conference session takeaways we can’t implement alone.

Takeaway #1: Tell stories that align with your institution’s core values.

From "Make it fresh: Steering clear of the same old story" by Ravi Jain.

Ravi said that being in higher ed is like being in Groundhog Day, and he’s right. We post a lot of cyclical content – course information, faculty bios, announcements, and commencement schedules – just in time to go back to the beginning and start all over again. It can feel quite monotonous. But focusing on telling stories that reinforce who we are and what we believe at Liberty can breathe new life into our content.

How you can help: Be on the lookout for faculty, staff, and students in your department with a story to tell. Then, let us know!

Chances are, we’ve never heard of that student who landed an awesome internship or the faculty member who used her break to change the world. Share these stories with us so we can help share that message with the world via news articles, testimonials, or the We The Champions initiative.

Takeaway #2: Write small and write like a human.

From "Content in the age of personalization" by Matt McFadden.

With all the advanced web technology that can deliver personalized content and experiences, Matt went back to this core content principle as one of his closing “Four Big Things.” Keeping written content short, focused, and in a natural voice is foundational to connecting with your audience.

How you can help: Reduce content, eliminate ROT, and write with plain language BEFORE uploading anything onto your webpages.

The Web Content Team can’t review every change before it’s published, so we need you, our Web Manager users, to help implement good content practices. We offer free tips on general web writing, user-focused writing, and improved voice and tone on our website. We’re also happy to meet with you for additional training and brainstorming. Help us catch long-form narrative and academic jargon early in the content process!

Takeaway #3: Create a documented content strategy with goals.

From "Solo content strategy: Lessons for lone rangers and tiny teams" by Malaika Carpenter.

A content strategy is basically a plan for how content can help meet your goals. But before the plan can be written, you have to know what your department’s goals are and document them.

How you can help: Share with us your department’s specific goals so we can create a plan for how to achieve them with content.

Our team creates strategies to help Liberty meet its overall goals, and we can do the same for your department’s individual goals. But first, we need to hear from you on what those are. Requests to “create an FAQ page,” “add more buttons,” or “add a welcome letter from the dean” can never be successful without an established goal and a plan to achieve it. Let’s get strategic!

Takeaway #4: Understand executive priorities at every level and map out how the web will support them.

From "Paving the way for web governance" by Georgy Cohen.

Knowing your department’s goals is one thing; understanding what your layers of leadership are prioritizing is quite another. True understanding takes communication and relationships. And only then will it become clear how the web can support those priorities.

How you can help: Be a bridge builder. Use your knowledge and relationships to help us understand your leadership’s priorities.

No one knows your department better than you do. No one understands your leadership’s priorities quite like you do. In order for us to support them, we need to understand them. Start by inviting the Web Content Team into the conversation, no matter how complicated. Let us work with you to understand, plan, and support. We can do it, but we need you!

Posted at 12:20 PM | Permalink


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