Your website is one of the most public-facing communication channels and a primary way people will come to learn about your unit. Below are some requirements and best practices to follow that will set your website up for success.
Tailoring Web Content
The university recommends using Web Press, the university’s content management system, to develop and maintain websites so that you can easily share content with and from other university sites. Websites within Web Press are built in the university template. Complete the Web Press site request form to obtain a new site or change developers.
If you choose not to host your site within Web Press, your site must adhere to the Web Policy and incorporate elements including the standard header and footer. Style guidelines promote consistency among official Missouri State websites, which help our users find what they need and feel more confident that the information they find is valid and correct.
You may choose to have your website set as a subfolder or a subdomain of MissouriState.edu. For instance, your website could be named MissouriState.edu/Web or Web.MissouriState.edu. We advise units to set up their domains as folders unless there is a specific reason to establish the site as a subdomain.
Official websites must be hosted in the university’s official domain: MissouriState.edu. Missouri State will not host outside domains, such as those ending in .com or .org, without an approved exemption.
Knowing your existing content helps you decide how to best display that information. Deciding how your content will appear to your reader is the next step in the development process. Here are a few steps to guide your content organization process:
- Build an outline or flowchart of how your information will be displayed.
- Put information with less priority on lower level pages.
- Group your information into categories that are easily understandable to your audience.
When your audience goes to your site for information, they shouldn’t have to scour your site to find it. Your page organization should be as planned from the perspective of your selected audience and displayed in an equally thoughtful manner.
Choose a concise and descriptive title that clearly explains what the content on the web page is about. For instance, rather than naming a page “Websites” consider “Best practices for websites” which is short yet informative.
When determining the content for your website, think first about who will be viewing your site. Is it going to target specific groups of people (current students, faculty, prospective students, parents) or a combination of many groups? Whatever the mix, this group is your audience, and you should design your site to fit their needs.
A homepage is the entry point of your website — like a front door. It’s the primary landing page where you will direct your customers.
On a mobile device, your website’s navigation resides within a collapsed menu. Because of this, you should use the content area of your homepage to direct customers to key features or calls to action.
Questions to consider
Make certain all official web content is up-to-date and conforms with Missouri State policy statements. The Missouri State Web Policy lists additional guidelines for websites includes copyright, commercial activity, privacy and accessibility guidelines.
When you develop content for a new web page, think through what specific information you are communicating to your audience and try to deliver that information in the clearest, simplest way possible. The content on your website should be able to stand alone without context from other pages.
Here are some best practices to help optimize your web page content:
Is your website helping achieve your goals? Is it providing your audience the information they’re looking for? One way to answer these questions is to measure your progress through Google Analytics. Web strategy and development can assist you with pulling an analytics report or can set you up with an account where you can monitor your site’s usage.
Once you know how your site is performing, you can continue optimizing your content over time to increase your success.