If your program is ready for a website update the first step is to let me (Chris Moffett) know!
The next step is to get a Program Blog up and begin populating it with posts. I will help you set it up, add users, and think about how you want to organize your posts. We will need at least enough posts created to begin filling in the News Sections of the Program’s soon to be Main Website. (You should also make sure that any upcoming program events are being updated in the system, so that they will display as well.) You can look at Music Ed’s blog and Main Website for an example of how this can be done. It is advisable that one or more staff or students within your program be responsible for creating and updating content. If you have questions about this, or need resources, let us know.
Once the Blog is underway, we will create a development site for the Program, that will eventually replace the existing Program Main Website. It will look just like this Demo Site. The next step is to review the existing content on the current site, and begin to think about how to fit it into the containers of the new site. You will find that we have streamlined and coordinated common program needs in the new page structure. It is important to think about how to migrate old content over, while reviewing it to make sure it is as clear and compelling, while not being redundant. There is also room to include content that is specific to your program, such as special centers or programs. But additional pages should not be created just to fit your existing formats (such as Handbooks, and FAQ’s.) You will need to find ways to reframe that content within the new page structure. This might require some work, but the end result will be a much more intuitive and easy to update site.
As you begin to populate the pages in the Development Site, you should review them for accuracy and currency. It is recommended, whenever possible, not to include time specific information, especially if it is updated elsewhere. Instead provide a link to the appropriate source. If something is time sensitive, you should consider handling that through the blog instead of in the drop down page structure.
In addition this is a good time to review how compelling your web copy is. The area to the left of the banner images at the top is a good place to consider the very first impression you would like people to have of your program. What makes your program unlike any other program? This in turn will link to a longer description, which should be equally compelling. Save the technical details for the Degree Requirements section. You may find that you have duplicate content all trying to accomplish the same thing: a welcome page, an intro page, an about the program page, a program description, and so on. Now is the time to think about creating one coherent impression from all of this. Or take this opportunity to look freshly at your program and write something from scratch.
This is also a good time to review all of your degree requirements, information for students, Faculty listings, and any other informational content. But also, don’t let this hold up changing over to the new Template either. (Your amazing web makeover can easily wind up in perpetual purgatory while the old site continues to show outdated information anyway!) Updating this content should be a regular and ongoing function–one that is distinct from updating the look of the site. Once the new Template is in place, you should establish a review process for making further updates to content.
The rest is finishing touches. The banner images can be changed to include images more appropriate to your program. These can either be photos that you have already, or you can request new photos to be taken. Or we can use high quality stock images as well. The thumbnails for each of the sections can also be tailored.
And that is all there is to it. The content should be reviewed one last time, keeping in mind that changes can also be made after the template goes live. And then we will swap out old site with the Development Site, and your new Website will be live.
We will then review the process of keeping the new Program Website and Blog updated and running smoothly, and you will be on your way…