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.

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How to Use the Core Model to Improve Your Web Content

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Creating Effective Calls to Action

In our planning for the web training, we told you all about the core model; web pages that direct users to business goals or further information.

The paths through these pages can be highlighted as calls to action (CTA). Today, I’m going to talk about them in a little more detail.

Transactional vs navigational

There are two types of CTA, transactional and navigational.

Transactional CTA achieve business goals by getting your users to:

  • buy
  • order
  • book
  • enquire
  • pay
  • apply

Navigational CTA provide users with forward paths by linking to further information or a logical ‘next step’ in the user journey.

When you need to button it

Navigational CTA generally only need a hyperlink within the textFor example, ‘visit our Postgraduate website to find out more about funding opportunities’.

Transactional CTA require something with more impact. That’s where the T4 content type 08. Button comes in.

Buttons are larger and more eye-catching than hyperlinks. The text on them should be active, and encourage the user to do something like ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up’.

There’s examples of CTA buttons on our Go Mobile Demo website.


Think of your web page as a story, with the call to action as the epic climax. The narrative or your page (ie the rest of the content) should build anticipation for the call to action.

You should tell your users:

  • what the page is about
  • what the problem/issue/benefit is
  • a little of what the user will get out of pressing your button

Get it right

You can find out about different types of CTA, what types of pages to use them on, and even our top tips for using buttons.

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A Quick Guide to…Embedding Videos in T4

For University web editors who have gone through Go Mobile and are using T4 to edit their sites, here’s a refresher on how to embed video content.

In the new responsive template videos are embedded using the content type ‘06. External Media’. They should be hosted on a dedicated delivery service, eg YouTube.

Before embedding a video you should check that it relates to and supports your written content.

You should also check the thumbnail for the video. If it’s caught between frames or doesn’t seem appropriate, don’t use the video and flag the issue with whoever uploaded it to the channel.

Embed code

When adding a video to your content always take the web address from the video’s embed code.

Screenshot of protecting coral reefs video on YouTube

Protecting coral reefs video on YouTube

You’ll also need to make sure the option to ‘show suggested videos when the video finishes’ is unchecked. Otherwise you run the risk of unrelated videos, or worse competitors’ videos, being pulled into your page.

Screenshot of embed code for a video on YouTube

Embed code for Protecting Coral Reefs video on YouTube


The video embed code will look something like this:

The code for the Protecting Coral Reefs video is X_skPHdKQgA, while the part of the code that ensures no additional videos are pulled in is: ?rel=0.

Adding to T4

When adding to T4:

  • add the prefix and name of the video
  • paste in the embed code to the Media URL field
  • add a caption to give context (limited to 50 characters)
  • don’t duplicate the video title in the caption if already displayed in the media player
  • select the most appropriate alignment for the video
Screenshot of video embed screen in T4

Screenshot of video embed screen in T4 (select to view larger image)


On desktop, you can choose to align videos to the right of your content or make them full width so they stretch to the size of the screen.

We recommend using the full width option with caution, though – this often reduces the quality of the video. It can also look more cluttered and can make it harder for the user to find the answers to their questions.

On mobile, videos behave the same as images – stretching to fill the width of the screen and flowing below content.

Load time

We recommend that you only add one video per page. This is so that you don’t bombard the user with too much video content, but more importantly so that you don’t slow down the load time of the page.

Find out more

Check our T4 Moderator guide for how to embed external media (University login required).

Visit our website to find further advice and support about video hosting (University login required).

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5 Reasons to Limit Video Content on your Site

As we take more sites through Go Mobile we’ve been removing quite a few video pages. We get asked a lot why we consider videos to be supplementary content on websites, and why we discourage a page containing only video content.

In this post I’m going to share five reasons why I think you should limit video content on your site.

1. Videos can be time consuming

People read differently online – they scan and dedicate less time, and often come to a website to find the answer to a question.

They are looking for a bridge for that information gap. They want to get over that bridge as quickly as possible.

Gerry McGovern

Videos are not the quickest bridge to information because, as Amy Schade (Nielsen Norman Group) points out, “they force users to access the content sequentially”. This means that users can’t quickly scan the information to see if it will be relevant to them  like they could with text.

If we rely solely on video content to convey our primary messages we run the risk of burying them. Users might not watch a video to the end, or worse, they might not watch it at all. In our new responsive template videos don’t play automatically, giving the user control over what they view.

As Amy Shade argues, users should “have the ability to collect information in another way”.

If using videos on your site you should always ensure that your primary message is also presented in text so that users can access it quickly.

2. Videos are not always accessible

When using video content you need to be mindful of accessibility.

Providing content as a video can limit access to the information contained in this format for anyone who cannot see or hear the content.

Amy Schade, Nielsen Norman Group

Is video the most appropriate medium to convey information to your target audience? For example, if one of your target audiences is from a country where Youtube is not available, relying on videos to provide information means that your audience can’t access it.

Videos can also break or be removed from the channel they’re hosted on.

3. Videos can distract from your core content

As well as videos being time consuming they can also interrupt the flow of your core content.

Video and the accompanying audio, can confuse or distract users”.

Amy Schade, Nielsen Norman Group

On mobile devices videos can take longer to scroll through as they stack to fill the smaller screen.

Since videos are potentially distracting users from your core messages, it’s important to think carefully about when and where to use them on your webpages.

4. Videos can slow the page load

Videos, like images and virtual tours, can slow the load time for your webpage. If users can’t access your information quickly they can become frustrated and leave your site.

5. Videos often don’t provide a next step

As well as coming to the web to find something out, users often come to a website to complete a task. There is a danger with videos just to tell a story rather than provide information with a call to action.

“Many videos are essentially dead ends that leave the user with no clear path to additional information.”

Amy Schade, Nielsen Norman Group

This supports my argument that videos are usually supplementary content on websites. They should sit alongside your core content to provide context or qualifying information rather than being relied on to provide essential next steps in the user journey.

Final thoughts

I’m not trying to say videos are not useful content. Do I believe they are more suitable in other mediums, such as social media? Absolutely. Like Gerry McGovern, I believe that a website is still “primarily a text-driven medium”.

However, I can also see the benefits of videos on a website. Like other dynamic content, videos can be engaging and can help break up blocks of text. They also provide context and qualifiers to support your core messages.

It’s essential though that we use this content type sparingly on websites to maximise impact, and to ensure that we’re not excluding, distracting or annoying our users.

Remember, there isn’t much time to grab the user’s attention on the web, it’s best to present your primary messages as quickly and as clearly as possible.

References and further reading

Amy Schade, Video Usability, Nielsen Norman Group (NNg), 16 November 2014

Gerry McGovern, Text is more important than images on the Web, New Thinking, 26 September 2010

Gerry McGovern, The Challenge for Writers of Web Content, New Thinking, 24 May 2015

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Best practice example: mastheads

Each batch we put through the go live process has examples of excellent content. In this new series of blog posts, we’ll use these to highlight best practice examples.

Last time we looked at using grid boxes for section openers. This time I want to show you three different examples of best practice for mastheads.


Like grid boxes, mastheads are used for section openers. These are pages that give an introduction for a particular section (eg Research, Study with Us, About Us).

They help create visual hierarchy, and so should only be used for top level sections of your site (the pages that appear in the side menu when you’re on the homepage).

Example one: Accommodation

masthead on the Accommodation website

This example is from the Accommodation website. It uses a masthead page to give a brief introduction to the section, and point users towards some key pages.

Mastheads work well in places where you want to give a teaser for the section, but not go into too much detail.

At a glance, users can see how to get to key information.

The image gives a visual clue about the content of the section. It shows students who look like they really do live in the accommodation, rather than visiting for the first time.

We’ve prioritised the information, providing links to some of the core pages for current students – how to extend your stay, swap or transfer your room, and what to do at the end of your contract.

We’ve also added a sub-heading to introduce a sub-set of key information: how the Accommodation service can support students after first year. This quickly introduces a new topic that they might not have heard about, and shows them where to find more information.

Example two: Careers

masthead on the Careers website

This longer example is from the Careers website. It uses a masthead page to give a more comprehensive overview of the section.

The image links very clearly to the title of the page. The shape of the photo also leaves enough space for the title box.

The sub-headings give a clear indication of how the section can help the user, and help to direct the user to appropriate information quickly and easily.

Although there is more text in this example, the page has been structured in a way that supports it. There are clear links to all pages within the section and the sub-headings work well to help users scan for information.

Hyperlinks are also used very well in this example. They’re placed at the end of sentences, which supports visitors using mobile devices. They’re not all clumped together, which would make them difficult to use on a mobile.

Example three: Postgraduate

masthead on the Postgraduate website

This last example is from the Postgraduate website. It uses a masthead page to support longer text and more information.

Mastheads can also be a good option if pages in the section have very specific information, and you need a catch-all page to introduce key information that won’t appear on the other pages.

There is a lot of text on this page, but users are directed to core pages by two, clear hyperlinks. Scanning is supported through short paragraphs, and bold phrases.

To improve scannability even more, we could introduce some sub-headings and bullet lists to break up the text, add white space and support scanning.

You can also support the text by using other content pieces, such as images, videos or quotes. The quotes in this example help to break up the text, and they’re relevant to the main content. They help to quickly support the message of the section.

Learn more

You’ll learn how to create and manage these pages in our T4 training sessions.

If you’re stuck, we can help you work out what format will work best for your navigational pages.

Have a look at :

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