Make and manage your website
This Web Skills module will give you the knowledge to make and manage your website. It is broken down into eight easy to read sections that will help you understand; the purpose and objectives for your site, basic researching techniques and knowing your audience. It will give you ways to start structuring your site and the knowledge to future proof it.
Let's get started:
MAke and manage your website items
1. What is a website for?
Why do you need a website?
- Never "just because..."! It must have a purpose.
- As a communication and marketing tool. Your customers can get to know you and your products through the website at their convenience.
- To take part in a two way communication between you and your users/audience.
- To Reach a mass global audience.
- To encourage people to action - every website should have an objective it wants users to complete. A call to action provides; Focus to your site, a way to measure your sites success and direction to users.
- For users to search for and discover concise and accessible information.
- To increase the confidence in your brand.
2. Helping you meet your objectives
What can we use our website for?
- Promote ourselves and our work.
- Create interest.
- Generate revenue (directly and indirectly).
- Maintain and increase reputation.
- Recruit staff and students.
- Engage with our audiences.
- Creating positive reactions and emotions.
- Stand out in the market - uniqueness, differentiation.
- Comparing you to the competition.
- An information source and information gathering.
3. Do some research
You can look at other people who are in a similar discipline:
- Other universities - use league tables.
- Similar research groups or departments.
- Check both UK and International.
- HE sector.
- Outside the sector.
- Within the College - what are other Departments, groups, Faculties doing?
Search Engine Results
Put yourself in the place of your audience:
- What keywords, phrases or search terms would you use to find your site? A good way to find similar or competitor's sites that appear high in search results!
Find out more about Search Engine Optimisation in our Increasing the visibility of your website (SEO) online Web Skills module.
4. Knowing your audience
Who will be visiting your site?
- What is the level of knowledge of your audience?
- Are they experts in this field or not? This can guide the detail of content and who it is tailored towards.
Imperial's audiences can be broadly considered as:
- Prospective students and families
- Prospective employees
- Current students
- Current staff
- Peer communication with colleagues at Imperial
- Academics (not Imperial) with general queries about College
- Visitors to the College
- Specialists and specialist groups in science, technology, medicine
- Prospective clients/users of academic resources at Imperial
- Prospective development partners
- Key decision makers in government and industry
- Non-specialists in industry
- Current and Prospective funding bodies/sponsors
5. Things to consider when building your site
A) What is your website for?
- What need does your website need to fulfil? It is important to understand this before you embark on setting up a website.
- Your administrative/organisational structure will not (or rarely) matter to your audiences. So don’t plan your website around this structure.
- Remember: a website is never “just because”!
There could be a number of tasks your website must fulfil, including:
- Celebrating achievement.
- Generating interest.
- Providing information.
- Information gathering.
B) Add a call to action
Calls to actions:
- Answer the [unspoken] question, ‘That’s interesting. Now what?’
- Are simple ways to interact directly with your online visitors.
- Encourage visitors to take an immediate action after reading your content or viewing your pages.
- Create useful and relevant links to “Read more about…” “Register for our newsletter…” or “Contact us…”
- Can be buttons, graphics or banners indicating the user has an action to perform.
- Should make the process as easy as possible.
- Should have a simple and clear message.
C) Creating content
- Does it make sense.
- Check links and Calls to action.
Use of images
- Choosing the right images.
- Sourcing images.
- See our Images online Web Skills module.
- Adding content types within the templates.
Writing your content for the web
- It's not the same as writing for print.
- Tailoring content at your audiences.
- See our Writing for the web Web Skills module.
D) On-going maintenance
The communication and impact your website has doesn’t necessarily end when the user closes the browser…You need to leave a positive and lasting impact.
Appoint a team:
- Decide who will be responsible for maintaining your site?
- Create a longer term website/digital strategy to ensure upkeep.
Keep content up to date
- To get people to come back regularly updates are important - you wouldn’t send out a brochure with content two years out of date!
- Ensure people and contacts are current - any names/email addresses/contact numbers will impact upon future communication and contact with audiences.
- Use dynamic content types to create up to the minute content on your page. Try using News, Events and social media feeds on your page.
6. Ensure fresh and engaging content
Your website is your 'shop window', a good shop window:
- Communicates what you do
- Shows what makes you special
- Makes users want to 'do business' with you rather than competitors
- Is fresh and engaging
- Gives users a reason to come back
- Gives the important information in a visually appealing way
- Makes people stop and stare
A poorly managed, maintained and seldom updated website is like a 'dirty shop window':
- It gives a poor impression
- Wastes time
- Impacts on search Engine ranking (Google knows when pages are not updated and will not give preference over a more recently updated page)
- Becomes a wasted resource
- Stops contributing to your overall objectives
- Audience will go to competitors
Content maintenance includes:
- Editing existing content
- Developing new additional content
- Removing out of date content
- Refreshing presentations/layouts/images/videos
- Dealing with enquiries
- Improving visibility of 'calls to action
7. Pulling it all together