I spent a few minuets today making a Photoshop document of what the campus websites would look like with the new feed so everyone can get an better idea of how the campus sites would look if we change them all. My main goal is to have all of the websites look the same in regards to structure so that:
- Students see consistency across all of the sites and know how to navigate and
- The sites are easier to edit and update of they all fall into the same form
The picture I doctored up has the main distance.usu.edu feed and calendar info on it. Just replace the specific info for your site where it seems appropriate and you will get an idea of how your new homepage will look. There are a few other benefits that come from this change that I will go over as well, but here is the picture.
As you can see, it isn’t much different from what we currently use, but I really think that this will allow for a bit more flexibility when it comes to news and spotlights and how we use them. Also, you would no longer be limited to 3 calendar items and 3 news items as was previously the case. Students can also get a nice long view ahead on the calendar without having to actually go to the calendar page. Lastly this will give more prominence to your Facebook and Youtube pages as the feeds are incorporated right into the site. For those of you who do not use Facebook or Youtube the feed would just be populate with the top x number of news and spotlight items.
The quicklinks section would house the same information that is currently on your homepages in the same section. I am struggling with how to make this section more visible as there are students who are still having trouble finding information on both our site and the campus sites.
Even though course search is on the homepages and almost every page on the site, students still can’t find this and other important information. I am not set on how this currently looks but something like this will hopefully show students the info you need. Also, this menu will be flexible in height so you can include a few more links if you would like.
The request information form would be your contact us form. We are going to try to make these uniform now and in the future because in the not too distance future there will be a new CRM system in place. Information from prospective students can be collected and stored and we can track then how we send out marketing information to them. While we do not yet know the exact information we will want to extract from these potential students, we do know it will be the same across all sites.
These forms will still email your contact person. On our site they are also found on all degree pages as well as all pages within the future student section of the site. That way anyone can request information right as they are browsing rather than look for the contact page.
In the future I plan on adding a way for when the form is sent, some other data will be sent along with it like what page they were looking at or how long they were on the site, etc.
The feed currently is set to show the latest 7 news, spotlight, facebook, and youtube posts. For our site this is about right. I think I will allow the webmasters to increase or decrease this number based on their needs. Some of you may do a lot of Facebook posting which may require more items to be shown in your feed. Also, because these items are merged together and shown on your homepage I feel this gives you a bit more flexibility to use your Facebook account to post items, but still have them show up where everyone could see. Maybe you just have an interesting link for students and want to share it but don’t want to make a banner and it isn’t really “news.” Just post it on Facebook and there it is on the homepage.
You will have a greater ability to share with students things that might interest them. Also for local events that might interest students posting to Facebook might be a better answer than posting a spotlight. It is quicker too and great for events that might come up short notice or that are just not a huge enough deal to make a spotlight. News and Spotlights that are pushed out from other campuses would still show up here. Another benefit is that when you have to take down your banners for something like the elections, and I going to try to devise a way so your news and spotlights still show up in your feed but not on the banners so you don’t lose anything.
The calendar would function as it currently does, but it would only show global events that we have just begun to use and your campuses events. I have it set to show 10 items on our page, but you might want less or more. 10 seems about right as it should give about a month’s view on the campus sites. Also, since we are pushing calendar items now, you won’t have to worry about putting up registration deadlines or other global events as they will be handled centrally.
Please leave comments about what things you might like changed for your sites. I haven’t begun to implement these changes as not everyone has responded about their desire to include these new features on their sites. Please email me if you would like them included as I am trying to get a list of sites.