Web Content Strategy

What is Web Content Strategy? 

Web content strategy is how you choose to write, organize and design a website or webpage to best communicate your most important messages. 

Web Services works with units across campus to plan and build web content. We don’t just design and maintain University websites; we also ensure they adhere to our brand standards, communicate information effectively and are accessible to users with disabilities. 

Our team is tasked with increasing the accuracy and consistency of the albany.edu website, while reducing its total size to create a more sustainable platform. This mission, along with our commitment to supporting student enrollment and retention, is central to UAlbany’s web content strategy. 

We encourage all campus communicators to review this guide. Please contact Web Services at [email protected] with any questions or for further advice. 

 

Website Redesigns 

During a website redesign, we don’t just port information from an old web content management system to a new one. We will assess all the content on your current website, how it interacts with other websites and how we can improve our users’ experience, then rewrite and reorganize your web content as a team. 

To keep us on track, Web Services has worked out a four-stage system for approaching these redesigns. Each project is different but here is a general overview: 

  1. Plan: Establish a core team. Identify and reach consensus on project goals and stakeholders. Conduct a stakeholder needs assessment. 

  2. Strategize: Evaluate and prioritize stakeholder needs. Develop and agree on measurable site goals. Create site architecture. 

  3. Build: Reorganize, edit and produce website content. Build website. Review and edit website. 

  4. Deploy: Launch website. Conduct site editor training. Measure site goals. 

This process is highly cooperative, with your team and our team acting as partners in the entire endeavor. Your content expertise and close relationship with your audience(s) will be invaluable as we reimagine your website. We’re here to provide expertise in design, brand and content strategy. 
 

Request a Website Redesign

 

Site Owners & Editors  

Site owners are the University professionals who have final say and approval over the content of a website. Each website needs at least one site owner. Multiple owners for the same site should be named sparingly. 

Site editors are University professionals who are trained by the Web Services team to handle routine or day-to-day updates on their unit’s website. Each website should have roughly two site editors, who are named by their site owner. Site editors should be professional faculty or staff members. 

The Web Services team can also act as your website’s editor. Site owners simply need to file a Web Services ticket and we’ll be in touch. 
 

Request Site Editor Training   Request a Website Edit

 

Content Ownership 

When the information on one part of the UAlbany website doesn’t match the information on another part of the UAlbany site, users lose trust in the University.  

Whenever you edit a University webpage, ask yourself:

  1. Where should users go to find this information? (For example: Students who want tuition information should always go to the Financial Aid & Student Accounts website.) 

  2. What other offices within the University share this information online? How can you coordinate changes or updates with their site editor? 

If you want to share information about another unit, find the appropriate webpage on your partner office’s website and use a link to send your users there directly. 

Here’s an example from the Financial Aid & Student Accounts website

For information on financial aid for veterans and military-connected students, including the GI Bill and Military Tuition Assistance, please visit the Office of Veteran and Military Student Services website

This helps the University maintain accurate site content and our users’ trust. 

 

User Pathways 

Good websites are easy to navigate because they anticipate users’ needs and build strong, clear pathways that guide users through completing top tasks. 

First, you need to identify your audience and what you want them to learn or do on your website. Next, you’ll use that information to shape how you design your menu structure and main pages. 
 

Calls-to-Action

What are the things you want users to do before they leave your website? Those are your Calls-to-Action (CTAs), which should hold a prominent place on your website. 

CTAs are most often displayed as buttons on the homepage. For example, on the Financial Aid & Student Accounts website

A screenshot of the Financial Aid and Student Accounts website's homepage, with call to action buttons for Contact Us, Sign into E-Pay and Check for Important Notices

 

Menu Structure

It’s a best practice to have no more than seven main menu items in your navigation bar.  

Most of those main menu items will have child pages and some of their child pages may be added to the site’s navigation bar under the correlating main menu item. 

For example, on the Graduate School website, there are seven main menu items, one of which opens to reveal child pages:

Two screenshots of the Graduate School's site menu, showing it's seven main items and what it looks like when the Admissions item is expanded to reveal five child pages

When menus grow larger than this, users can become overwhelmed and user pathways can become blurry. While it’s hard not to throw in the kitchen sink, your main menu items should reflect the most important journeys your users need to take. 

Additionally, make sure your entire menu links only within your site. If you need to link to another UAlbany website, add that link inside a side bar callout or in the main content area. 

For accessibility purposes, it’s critical that your menu structure also remains the same throughout your website. 

Scrolling v. Clicking 

For years, websites have been designed so that users click deeper and deeper into a site to find more detailed information.  

It’s a reasonable strategy: The higher level a page is, the more important its content. That much remains true. However, in recent years, user preference has shifted from clicking to scrolling. 

Many of our website users now access albany.edu on a smartphone. If a website makes them open five pages to get to the information they want, that’s five tabs their browser needs to open and then load on cellular data. 

Instead, we encourage editors to create more robust pages to organize content. Accordions are especially helpful here: Users have all the content at their fingertips but aren’t overwhelmed by it at first glance.