University Website Goals and Strategy
The University website often represents the first interaction that outside audiences have with the University. In order to put our best foot forward, the Office of Web Marketing oversees the website strategy to ensure best practices, ADA compliance, alignment with University priorities, continual improvement and coordination between departments.
Overall Website Goals
Minnesota State Mankato has shared values toward six strategic directions:
- Enhancing student success and completion
- Elevating faculty distinction and academic achievement
- Expanding regional and global impact
- Leading equity and inclusive excellence
- Advancing a culture of evidence and innovative organizational designs
- Leveraging the power of partnerships and collaboration
While much of this plan is operational in nature, and reflects the University’s desire to recruit great students and make them better as they get their degree, there are certain aspects that can be heightened through marketing, including on the website.
What it comes down to, more than anything, is a focus on creating— and showing—excellence through a modern university model.
Messaging toward applied learning and applied research
A shift from listing features toward listing benefits and differentiators, according to Minnesota State Mankato’s shared academic values. These academic values are to be positioned in terms of “First, Best, Only".
Promotion of the Big Idea
Show big stories and creative solutions, as these are the things that differentiate Minnesota State Mankato from its competitors and allow for future students to put themselves in those big stories as they consider their future.
A shift toward intuitive content organization
This is, in the model of how a student thinks, the structuring of content and how it is presented in a way that follows the model of how a student thinks, instead of by departmental or internal office structure.
A focus on students
Information and content that is public should focus on supporting traditional, transfer, international, graduate, online, and distance education students, as well as all of the different combinations that can occur within those classifications—with an additional focus on helping create a diverse student body.
Although there is information available for faculty and staff (such as this website), too much internal information will clutter up the website and make things harder to find for our new website visitors.
Consideration should always be taken for whether internal information is valuable to the public or if it should be housed internally through Microsoft Office programs (Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint). IT Solutions can help advise on the best way to make internal information available online only to the necessary employees.
A modern design
A modern university needs to look like a modern university—including online. It gives pride to current students, attracts new students, and provides a good background for incoming staff and faculty.
Clear navigation cues or content areas for current students
This does not mean a separate site for current students, but an area where current students can quickly access the links and access points most important to them.
Modern home page templates and modular content
The University home page uses less of a template model and more of a modular model, where the home page includes a handful of important fields, but is largely made up of modular elements that can be used elsewhere across the site.
Section home pages, program home pages, and other larger marketing content pages can rely on these modular elements to provide a bit more freedom within the Content Management System’s design structure.
Stories over news
As an important editorial element, instead of featuring things perceived as “big news” to the organization, we instead need to focus on things that are “big ideas”. Stories and testimonials can be used to show the University’s personality and exceptionalism—illustrating our outcomes while simultaniously promoting programs.
Programs over departments
A major part of the overhauled Minnesota State Mankato site focused on a shift from the traditional department-based program model, where majors and programs are lumped together only based on arbitrary department classification, toward a subject-based program model, where people will find programs based on areas of commonality. This provides a better connection to the interdisciplinary model, where programs are less a function of a single department and more a shared concern. It also honors the way many students browse the web: performing web searches for a specific program rather than a specific college or university. In these ways, this shift focuses on the user-exerience and makes this information more accessible to our external audiences.
Updated program pages
Program pages use a template to provide a consistent model, and rely on database driven content (for accuracy) as much as possible.