About Jane

Jane project manages site developments for clients and provides training and advice on writing for web/mobile for our web editors. With expertise in structuring information architecture and creating content strategy, she is passionate about usability and is involved with user testing whenever possible.

How to Find the Most Important Pages on Your Website

If you attended our Planning and Writing Web Content training you’ll recall we cover the topic of core pages during the day. These are the most important pages on your website.

We know that more than a few people struggled to identify these core pages on their own sites. Especially once they’d left the cosy confines of our training sessions, with one of our content officers on hand to help out…

It’s not an easy concept to master as many of our websites are split into sections that could arguably all be seen as important. But here’s a method you can easily follow:

Start with a purpose

Traditionally, websites were created at the University because there was a service, a school, institute, centre or whatever. Sites existed simply because they could – so they often didn’t start with a well-defined purpose.

No one stopped to ask ‘what are we trying to achieve with this website?’

The downside to this is if websites don’t have a defined purpose, then they can literally host ANYTHING. Sorry for shouting, but it’s true. Thousands of pages of unrelated content, hundreds of pictures, videos, power point presentations, blah blah blah – you name it, we’ve seen it.

It’s better to focus on your audience’s wants and needs.

So we have a specific undergraduate website, rather than a Marketing and Student Recruitment site with undergraduate content.

Create your site purpose

  1. List your website users/audiences. For example potential staff, media, international students, researchers.
  2. List the tasks your users come to your website to do. For example contact staff, apply for a course, check event times.
  3. Think about the business goals your website is supporting. For example, recruit staff, encourage collaboration, share news, advertise courses.

These lists are your new BFF and invaluable, they’ll form the basis of your site purpose statement.

Identifying your core pages

The next step is to identify those core pages that will support your site purpose.

Start with your list of user tasks and your list of business goals. Your core pages are those where these two elements meet – where your user can complete a task and you can convey your message.

For example, on a school site users often want to contact staff. One of our University-wide business goals is to enable collaboration, so our staff profile pages are core pages.

Another core page example would be a page about a CPD (or any) course. Users want to know what, where, when and the cost – we want them to apply, contact us, sign up – our business goals.

This exercise combined with data from analytics to show your most visited pages can help you identify your core pages quite easily.

Now you know…get going!

Set aside a few moments to make those lists, and use them to identify your core pages.

We can even help you plan content for these VIP pages. Download a core page template from our website. It’s straightforward and quickly helps you focus on what should/shouldn’t be there.

You can even use your core pages to prioritise what work to tackle next on your website.

Let your core pages help you decide what’s important and what’s not.

Once you know who you’re creating your website content for, and understand what they want to do/know – focus effort on these core pages and by default, you’ll create a better website.

Related posts

How to Use the Core Model to Improve Your Web Content

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Big and (now) Beautiful

The Careers website is a vitally important part of the University’s web presence, and we’ve just finished a huge, six month long Go Mobile redevelopment.

Careers website homepage

New home page

It’s a big University service with multiple audiences, including:

  • prospective and current students
  • parents
  • old and new graduates
  • our academics and staff
  • employers

And these users have any number of different tasks they want to complete. From checking opening times, finding out about Recruitment Fairs or CV workshops, psychometric tests, researching occupations, and advertising jobs….

When one becomes four

The site was so big it’s now four separate websites. Why? Because like it or not, big isn’t normally beautiful on the web.

‘Big’ often means content has simply grown over the years, with more information added, and added…..and added. Simultaneously, moving or navigating around a big site is generally harder too. (And yes you’ve guessed, it’s even harder to navigate on a smaller mobile screen.)

If not diligently reviewed, big websites often suffer with duplicated or out of date information. More pages are added, so more navigation is needed. It’s a vicious circle.
But by the very nature of this information-led service, the Careers website had to hold a massive amount of content.

OK, but surely the most popular pages were easy to find? Well…no. it was big you see, so really hard to find some good stuff.

Alright, but it looked like it was part of the University right? …Oh dear.

The return of the 1980s

It’s fair to say the old Careers Service website was looking a bit….well, 1980s. And nothing like the rest of the University online. It was seriously overdue for a redevelopment!

Old careers homepage

Old home page

Because the site used an old template, they were also cursed with some of the longest webpages ever seen on planet earth. I kid you not.

This one example had a word count of 1,607. That’s FIVE A4 pages worth of content on one webpage.

Before:

Screenshot of old careers page which was very long

Old CV page

After:

Screenshot of new careers page which is much shorter

New CV page

While some pages are still quite long, the content is easier to scan read and navigate around using mobile.

So our Go Mobile project actually involved a major information architecture evaluation and wholescale restructuring, audience identification, and four separate website rebuilds.

Followed by extensive re-writing, editing, layout and format changes.

Oh, and then we made it responsive for mobile.

Now we have four new websites. Our external sites now boast tailored, audience specific content and fully responsive templates:

And information for Staff? Well that’s now an internal website of course (login required).

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A Quick Guide to… Lists

To help you keep track of the standards we use online – welcome to our quick guide to:

Lists

We like the use of lists online, they help you to break up large blocks of text on pages, by introducing white space. They also make your content instantly easy to understand, as they are quicker to scan read.

You can choose between bulleted and numbered lists. Here are the rules for each type of list.

Bulleted Lists

For most pages we’d recommend using bulleted lists. Make sure that you:

  • follow on from a colon
  • start each point with a lowercase letter
  • don’t add punctuation at the end of a bullet point (or at the end of the list)
  • use a minimum of three bullets but no more than six
  • begin with keywords and use bold for emphasis
  • keep each point short (not full sentences) – aim for up to 10 words

Numbered Lists

Numbered lists are recommended to use only when you want to guide a user through steps or a ‘top 5’.

  1. They don’t need to follow from a colon.
  2. Start each step with a capital letter.
  3. End each step with a full stop – each step should be a complete sentence.

Next time we’ll be covering introductions.

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A Quick Guide to… Headings

Pssst….Unlike some of my team, I don’t have perfect recollection of the character length a heading should be. So I’ll put it ‘out there’….. I have to look this stuff up just as much as anyone!

To help you/me keep track of this stuff, let me introduce a new series of short posts about our writing standards.

So fasten those seat belts – fingers on the print button, this is a quick guide to:

Headings

Included in the standards for headings are page titles and sub-headings, so I’ll cover each one here.

Page Titles

Page titles, are the first thing visitors to your site see and tell them what each page is about. They can also be seen out of context, eg in a search results page.

Your page titles need to be clear and meaningful so a user knows whether the information they want is on your page. They should:

  • be short so they are easier to read – less than 50 characters (including spaces)
  • use title case eg Student Life not Student life
  • begin with keywords to support scan reading
  • be simple and clear; jargon is difficult to understand and makes pages hard to find

Sub-headings

Sub-headings help to break up content on your page. They make text easier to scan read and help your users pick out relevant information easily. They should:

  • be short and meaningfulless than 30 characters (including spaces)
  • use sentence case eg Student life in Newcastle
  • begin with keywords to support scan reading

Next time we’ll be covering lists.

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Team Update 18 – 29 January

We’ve had our heads down throughout January, busy getting ready for Go Mobile Phase 2, and have had some exciting changes…

A warm welcome to the new arrival in our team; Head of Digital, Graham Tyrrell.

Graham started on the 18 January. His remit is to help us to further develop and deliver a world-class digital/web experience for visitors, our students and staff.

With over 15 years’ experience in web and digital work, Graham has worked in a number of not-for-profit organisations; the Home Office, Royal Institute of British Architects, Cancer Research UK and Which?

We’re hoping we can get a guest blog post in the near future from Graham, so watch this space!

Go Mobile programme

The recruitment process is still ongoing for the new faculty web managers and content officers to help with Go Mobile, and the new office space is still on-track for March.

Linda has started building the new Alumni site in T4. Plans are to merge the current Giving to Newcastle, 1834 Fund and the Alumni sites. Rather than migrate lots of unwanted content into the system, the Alumni team have decided to write it all from scratch!

The International website will be split in two as part of Go Mobile. The part of the site focused on recruitment has been migrated into T4 and is currently being prepared to hand over to editors. Emma C is working with the Student Mobility and Integration team on restructuring the study abroad and exchange content. She has also met with members of the International Relations team to discuss rebuilding their site in T4.

Lisa has been making further content updates to the Science Central website to get it ready for proofreading next week.

The Careers website will become four new sites as part of Go Mobile – yes four!

Jane has started building the Careers website, working with the Information Team to clarify the new structure. She’s also building an online resource website for occupation information.

Catherine is helping out with an internal Careers site for staff, working with technical colleagues in both the Careers service and NUIT. And finally, Lisa is working on the build of a new Employers site. It’s already been migrated into T4, so Lisa is getting the content ready to hand over to editors.

Design and Technical developments

A new collection of accommodation virtual tours has been commissioned by Lynn Shaughnessy, in the Accommodation Team. They will be available for embedding into T4 websites. We are also making sure they are added to the central virtual tour website. They include:

  • Albion House
  • Kensington Terrace
  • Park Terrace
  • The View
  • Turner Court

A to Z jump links can now be added to alphabetical staff lists and works in the same way as the jump links in the courses listings for the undergraduate and postgraduate websites.

The following websites have been imported into T4, ready for content editorial:

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • International Students
  • Employers

We are finishing some technical developments and refining some of the content types which will be needed in the next phase of site migrations. We are also looking at the requirements of research project pages, news and events listings and staff personal web profiles.

Training and support

Linda and Lisa ran another Planning and Writing Web Content session.

Emma C ran media management training for members of the Press Office, NU Advancement and our own team.

Anne delivered two Contribute webinars for staff at NUMED, ran another T4 CMS workshop, and delivered a bespoke T4 CMS session for Press Office staff.

So far, we’ve received 27 support requests through the NU Service Helpdesk and have resolved 19 of them.

Plans for the next few weeks

We’re getting ready for our first web editor community event where we’ll host editors whose sites were completed in phase 1 of Go Mobile….we have organised lots of cake!

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