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Taming the Web
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Matt Sumera and Peter Riemenschneider from University Relations addressed Web development for University communicators in the Forum's October get-together. The program stressed thinking about the Web as a publication and considering Web users as readers.

In an era of information overload, the Web has become a dumping ground for content that no one would publish on paper. We all need to stress the maintenance of current, accurate, and well-edited content on the Web. Our Web content should reflect the same compelling interest that we strive to instill in our print publications. If information on our Web site is not interesting but it comes from us, what does that tell to our audience?

Our Web sites need a clear mission. Then we can easily set coding standards, design standards, navigational standards, and standards for content and quality that meet the mission we have set for ourselves. Let us tame this unwieldy mess!

The University home page is a good example of this process. Peter reviewed the process of redesigning the page, from competitive analysis through multiple layers of user testing. The Web site's mission drove the information architecture process: "One-Stop is the place to get things done. The University home page is the place to learn about things at the University." After walking through the content areas and links on the front page it is apparent that the U relations Web team has created a page that informs about the University. It also motivates the University communicators to make use of these Web resources to highlight events, departments, and Web resources.

For more information on University Web resources, see the resources page of the Communicators Forum Web site.

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