When was the last time you had a few minutes to review pages on your college website? While doing research for a recent project, I came across a university website that was clearly out of date. It was a good reminder that we need to regularly review our websites to ensure dates, statistics, documents, forms, and more are up-to-date.
With the current semester coming to a close and the new student recruiting season well underway, here is a checklist of important items to check and/or update on your site.
- Viewbook: If you have an electronic viewbook, check the filename or date published. I recently saw one college with a viewbook labeled 2012-13 online, but found out later it is the current edition that they use. A prospective student or parent wouldn’t know that. If your documents aren’t date specific, don’t use a date-specific filename. It may make it look outdated, even if it’s not.
- Rankings: Several college rankings—Forbes.com, Money magazine, and U.S.New & World Report—were released earlier this fall. If you haven’t had a chance to check the rankings, do so now and then update the rankings info on your Fast Facts page or other places where rankings are touted on your website.
- Faculty directory: If you didn’t update your faculty listings and contact information before the school year started, now is the time to update it. Get an updated list from your HR or Academic Affairs office and confirm that any faculty who have left have been removed and any new faculty are added.
- Social media links: A NACAC 2013 State of College Admission report showed that 96 percent of colleges link to their social media pages from their website. If your website is in the 4 percent that doesn’t have these links, add them.
- Quotes: Look at any pages with student quotes on them and check the graduation dates of the students listed. If the student has already graduated, consider swapping out the quote with a one from a current student.
- Homepage photos: When’s the last time your homepage photos were updated? If not in the last few months (or weeks), consider updating them.
- Forms: Many websites have forms for scholarships, registration, submitting a deposit, and more online. Check these forms to ensure they have the correct school year date on them. If they’re from last year, update them (or politely ask the appropriate department to update them.)
While you’re looking for content to update, also consider the number of clicks it takes to find information. One website I visited took three clicks on the topic of student organizations before I got to a page that actually had specific content on what student organizations the college had, rather than a general “we have more than 30 student clubs and organizations” statement. Try to eliminate pages that are “fillers” and don’t provide any real value.
About Dana’s Creative Services
Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative