University Web Developers

University Web Developers

I've got dozens of faculty & staff who ardently believe that THEIR program/activity/service should appear on our site's home page and/or in our universal top nav.

I'd love to hear how other organizations handle that demand for such limited real estate and keep their home page looking clean, accessible, navigable.

We have a "Website Advisory Committee" which is ostensibly an oversight body to whom I can refer these things, but bottom line, the responsibility for the user experience lies with us. So what do YOU do?

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In our case, it generally falls to the "Branding Committee" for the most part. Normally, I look at the home page by and large as a fixed thing, besides the elements that are MEANT to change, so when people ask for special treatment, it's easy to just be like "No, that's not how that page works." It also helps that the home page has been specifically defined as a landing page for prospective students, parents, and donors (in that order I think), so when someone asks to be on the page, we can apply a kind of litmus test to ask how they address those audiences.
At my college, the "products" or the degree programs are the main feature, followed by the focus audiences, like Fienen said, then upcoming events (which changes). Ultimately its the Marketing Director who has the last word on what goes on the homepage and for how long.
It comes down to knowing your users, as well as ownership/control over the website.

Starting with control and ownership of the website. Forget shared governance, you need to have one group own and control the design, architecture and content of your institution's website. This is not to say that this group lives in a bubble - outside feedback, content contribution, etc should be encouraged, but the final say lies within this group.

You need to know who your users are. Your primary audience should be prospective students and their parents. So what do you know about them? What are their goals? What motivates them? What are their pain points? If you don't know these things, you need to find out. The more you know about your users the better you will be at designing and maintaining a great web experience for your users.

By knowing these things, and having a single entity controlling the website, you can easily setup guidelines and requirements for content submission, architecture changes, or whatever else gets thrown at you from around the institution. By knowing your users, you can say NO because you can explain how it does not meet their needs!

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