Web Content Strategy
Winston-Salem State University’s website is a crucial marketing tool. It promotes the competitive advantages of the university, is true to the university’s mission, maintains brand integrity, and supports the brand. This document provides the framework for how and why WSSU will deliver online content to achieve its specific goals. It is intended to be a useful resource for faculty and staff who are involved in developing content for any area of the university’s website as well as for administrators who make decisions impacting the university’s official online presence.
INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS
Web Content Strategy: Winston-Salem State University’s website is a crucial marketing tool. It promotes the competitive advantages of the university, is true to the university’s mission, maintains brand integrity, and supports key strategic initiatives. Integrated Marketing Communication provides leadership and strategic direction in digital communications activities, including web content strategy.
Content Development: WSSU’s web content strategy provides the framework for how and why WSSU delivers online content to achieve its specific goals. Integrated Marketing Communication develops, integrates, and manages content within the top three web navigation tiers and develops campaign-specific landing pages that support other digital marketing activities.
Analytics: Integrated Marketing Communication develops and analyzes key performance metrics and makes recommendations to enhance process, content, and strategic outcomes related to digital marketing activities.
WEB SUPPORT SERVICES (a subunit of Application Administration Services)
Web Support Services supports the ongoing maintenance and development of the majority of the public-facing website and the student portal, MyWSSU. The public-facing website is the distribution point for content relevant to Winston-Salem State University. Cascade is the content management system for the captured content that feeds www.wssu.edu.
Web Support Services personnel do not create the content. Web Support Services personnel maintain the technical system and supports the accurate, appropriate, and timely display of the content submitted. All discussions regarding major modifications to the university web pages should, however, include Web Support Services personnel to ensure the ability to support the request, to determine security requirements/constraints and to facilitate ADA compliance education and verification.
Web Support Services personnel strive to maintain a viable university website by promoting the presentation of relevant and accurate information and ensuring robust and reliable delivery. Web Support Services exist to assist contributors, editors, approvers, and content owners in the professional delivery and maintenance of the content of the university website via tasks assistance, page maintenance, training, redesign, and by ensuring adherence to web best practices and approved university branding as established by Integrated Marketing and Communications.
All requests for modifications to the website are handle by a group of users from various entities across the university known as SuperUsers. Find a list of the SuperUsers and the areas they maintain here. The SuperUsers group is managed by Application Administration Services. Any direct request to Application Administration Service (Web Support Services) personnel should be submitted via RAMSupport ticket.
The website is designed to meet the following strategic goals:
- Increase enrollment and retain current students
- Engage prospective corporate donors and alumni to encourage gifts
- Organize content to be ADA compliant and easily accessible for all current students, faculty, and staff
- Emphasize the university’s pride and showcase WSSU’s unique HBCU experience
- Ensure the delivery of accurate, timely, and relevant content to the targeted audiences
- Provide optimal viewing and interaction across the various types of devices (i.e. desktops, laptops, tablets, phones)
- Current Students (undergraduate/graduate)
- Parents/Families of Prospective Students
- Parents/Families of Current Students
- Prospective Faculty/Staff
- Employers/Community Leaders
- News Media
- Campus Visitors
Every page of the WSSU website contains three common global areas: 1) header, 2) footer, and 3) global calls to action. These areas are reviewed annually by the Digital Communications Technology Advisory Group, and decisions regarding changes are made based on data/analytics, overall homepage goals and university strategic goals.
This area at the top of every web. page includes the university logo, search field, and primary navigation menus. The university logo is managed by IMC. The search field is managed by Web Support Services. Navigation menus are grouped into two sections: 1) audience type and 2) topical areas.
Audience Type: The audience dropdown menus serve the primary and secondary audiences, providing tools and links to landing pages for each audience. The designated landing pages are high level marketing pages owned and managed by IMC.
- Prospective Students: Prospective students are defined as potential students, whether known by us or stealth, who might attend WSSU in the future. The homepage serves as the landing page for the primary audience, prospective students.
- Current Students: Current students are defined as students who have been admitted, enrolled, and/or are currently registered for classes at WSSU. This audience has a current, active Banner ID#. The MyWSSU student portal serves as the landing page for current students.
- Parents & Family: Parents and family are defined as the familial support system of prospective and current students. The Parents & Family page serves as the landing page for this audience.
- Alumni & Friends: Alumni are defined as students who have graduated from or once attended WSSU. Friends are potential donors to the university and other university supporters not otherwise affiliated with the campus community. The Welcome Alumni page serves as the landing page for this audience.
- Faculty & Staff: Faculty & Staff are current employees of the university. The Faculty & Staff page serves as the landing page for this audience.
Topical Areas: The topical area menus contain information related to the following areas:
- Student Life
The footer contains informational links required by state and federal law, university policy, and/or to meet other functional requirements. The Footer is managed by Web Support Services
Calls to Action
Every page provides persistent links (easy-to-find calls to action) for those looking to give, apply, or visit WSSU. The landing page for each of these links is managed by IMC.
Site hierarchy is considered a global element that falls under the purview of the Digital Communications Technology Advisory Group. Requested changes to the site structure are considered bi-annually by this group. Decisions are made based on data/analytics, overall site goals, and university strategic goals.
The landing page for the About section is outward-facing to a broad audience. This page contains the following elements:
- Short text description containing brand-related positioning points
- Links to Points of Pride and Our History
- Degree Finder
- Link to News Section and University Offices
- Button links to Visit Us, Search Directory, View Events
The landing page for the Admissions section is geared toward the prospective student audience. This page contains the following elements:
- Large impact image at the top of the page
- short text description using appropriate keywords and designed to capture the interest of a prospect
- Graphical links to landing pages for the 3 targeted groups (freshman, transfer, graduate)
- Degree Finder
- Link to Admitted student section
- Link to inquiry form (Recruiter)
- Links to additional resources (Paying for College, Registrar, Continuing Ed, Summer)
- Next Steps call to action (Apply, Visit, Contact Us)
- Brand Voice video
The landing page for the Academics section is more hierarchical in nature and targets audiences who are more familiar with the academic structure of a university. This page contains the following elements:
- Large impact image at the top of the page
- Short text description using appropriate keywords
- Areas of Study
- Degree Finder
- Links to Catalogs, School/Colleges, Student Programs, Academic Resources
This link goes directly to 3rd party site wssurams.com, owned and managed by Athletics.
The Student Life page primarily conveys to prospective students what it is like to live on campus. This landing page contains the following elements:
- twitter feed containing most recent tweet from @sga_wssu
- calendar feed containing the next 4 events and link to the student calendar
- news feed containing the last 3 articles tagged with student life
- links to help students
- Manage Your Enrollment
- Prepare for Your Future
- Seek Assistance
- buttons linking to
- Campus Dish (dining)
- RAMExpress Shuttle
- OrgSync (student activities)
- Student Government
- Photo gallery
- YouTube playlist
- Student testimonial
Each of our 55 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certification programs has a landing page also used for specific recruiting campaigns. Each landing page is designed to quickly capture the interest of a prospect, lead them to more information, and encourage them to take the next step toward admission. Each program page contains the following elements:
- Large impact image across the top of the page
- Type of program and degree in the header
- Short text description using appropriate keywords and designed to capture the interest of a prospect
- Links to the school/college, department, and contact pages
- Points of pride
- Links to program and course descriptions in the catalog
- List of potential careers and example courses
- Next Steps… buttons to Apply Now, Visit Campus, Contact Us
- Testimonial quote with picture or video
- Keywords in the meta data which enable the degree finder to pull up the page based on search terms
Primary Goal: The primary goal of the homepage is to entice our primary audience, prospective students and their families, to further explore WSSU and move through the conversion funnel, taking steps toward the ultimate goal of enrollment. The homepage accomplishes this by:
- Showcasing high-quality compelling and relevant content that tells the unique story of WSSU.
- Providing easy to navigate links to information about programs, points of pride and calls to action.
- Encouraging users to take actions such as interact, inquire, and apply.
Secondary Goal: The secondary goal of the homepage is to help each of our secondary and tertiary audiences quickly navigate to other sections of the website containing tools, information, and calls to action relevant to that audience.
Content Areas: In addition to global elements, the homepage also contains four other main content areas: 1) primary content, 2) Areas of Study, 3) Find My Degree, and 3) What’s Happening. These areas are owned, managed, and periodically reviewed by IMC. Content decisions are made based on feedback/metrics, IMC strategies, and the marketing plan for specific recruitment projects. IMC projects are initiated by submitting a project Initiation Form.
Primary Content: This area shows the vibe and flavor of WSSU and shares the story by incorporating the brand messaging. Images, sliders and video tell our story and highlight the university’s overall branding and positioning.
- Image/Video Impact: Large rotating images or video with optional headlines and links show the campus and students, but also represent WSSU’s core values. This highly visible area portrays the WSSU “personality” through multimedia content … who we are at a glance.
- Points of Pride: Quick read infographics that represent rankings and accolades graphically. This area feeds from the Points of Pride library. Points of pride help position WSSU as a quality institution. Individual points of pride link only to the main listing of pride points in the WSSU About section. We do not link back to the external ranking site.
- Square Sliders: This area highlights high level brand messaging points that appeal to the primary audience, prospective students and their families.
- Featured Content: This area highlights the most appropriate IMC campaign that is currently running.
Find My Degree: This area links to the page that showcases programs and degrees offered at WSSU. The degree finder search functionality provides an easy way for prospective students to search for their program of interest using keywords, which pull up pages of related programs. The program landing pages are managed by IMC.
Areas of Study: The column slider sections represent each of seven general Area of Interest. This content is intended for the student that may not have a specific program of interest and is interested in exploring broader areas. The areas of study landing pages are managed by IMC.
What’s Happening: This section of the homepage includes three elements: 1) Latest News, 2) Events, and 3) Social Mashup.
- Latest News: News feed featuring headlines of five recent articles from WSSU News, the university’s news hub. To appear in this section, articles must be posted in the WSSU News site. Articles are updated several times per month. Articles that are on the homepage are of interest to a large audience, tell the overall story of WSSU, provide news or information for prospective students, or provide important emergency information. Homepage articles do not focus on one department, provide information provided for internal use (for faculty/staff or current students), promote a departmental event or recap a past event.
- Events Listing: Featuring six selected upcoming events, a feed that is pulled from the main public event calendar in the WSSU News section. To appear in this section, events must be posted in 25Live, the university’s calendaring system. To request assistance with 25Live, submit a RAMSupport ticket. Events are updated to calendars automatically from the 25Live system. Home page events are open and of interest to a large, broad audience and the general public OR of interest to prospective students and their families. Deadlines, meetings that are for specific groups, and events that are only for a specific audience segment (i.e. faculty, staff, alumni, or students) are not shared on the homepage.
- Social Mashup: This section pulls the most recent tweet from the university’s official Twitter account @WSSURams.
AUDIENCE LANDING PAGES
The WSSU website contains high level landing pages for each audience type, topical area, and marketable program. Most marketing campaigns are designed to drive the target audience directly to these landing pages where visitors can find relevant information and take further action. These pages may contain tracking code and pixels to aid in assessing the outcomes of specific campaigns. These landing pages are likely to be the first pages seen by our target audiences.
The following landing pages are owned, managed, and periodically reviewed by IMC. Content decisions are made based on feedback/metrics, IMC strategies, and the marketing plan for specific campaigns. Update requests must be made as part of an IMC campaign project, initiated by submitting a project Initiation Form.
In addition to the homepage, which is considered the landing page for prospective students in general, the following landing pages are used for specific recruiting campaigns:
- Freshmen Experience: The freshman experience is the landing page for prospects who are just beginning their college experience.
- Graduate Experience: The graduate/professional experience is the landing page for prospects who have completed a baccalaureate degree and are seeking to pursue further education.
- Transfer Experience: The transfer/readmit experience is the landing page for prospects who have some college credit, are not currently enrolled at WSSU, and are seeking to continue their education.
Each of these landing pages contains the following elements:
- a campaign-related large impact image at the top
- short text description using appropriate keywords and designed to capture the interest of a prospect
- Degree Finder
- Links to additional resources (registrar, continuing ed, about WSSU, paying for college)
- Next Steps (apply, visit, contact us)
- Link to admitted student section (except graduate)
- link to Student Life (except graduate)
- Link to inquiry form in Recruiter (except graduate)
- Transfer contains some additional transfer related links (credits, RN-BSN, Dual Admit)
Prospective Student quick links include the following links and tools:
- Paying for College
- Course Catalog
- Contact Admissions
The Current Student quick link goes directly to the MyWSSU Student Portal.
Alumni & Friends (in progress)
The Alumni & Friends landing page currently links to Alumni Engagement, Foundation, Donate Now, Employment, and Career Services information.
The Parents & Family landing page contains the following elements:
- Links to Student Life, Dean of Students, and Ask a Question form
- Brand voice video
- Admissions & Academics (UCaLL)
- Services & Resources (scholarships, financial aid, student records, bills, payment)
- Campus Life (housing, dining, health, orgs, safety)
- Academic Calendar
- Next Steps (Apply, Visit, Contact Us)
Parents & Family quick links include:
- Paying for College
- Contact Admissions
- Course Catalog
- Get More Info
The Faculty & Staff landing page is to be considered the primary hub for current employees. This landing page contains the following elements:
- Links to resources and applications commonly used by this audience
- Links to Faculty and Staff senates
- News feed tagged for faculty & staff
- Next 4 events and link to Faculty & Staff calendar
- Button links to CITI, Directory, Profile Pages, Sponsored Programs, technology support services, human resources
Faculty & Staff quick links include:
- Banner Rams
- Get More Info
PROGRAM MARKETING PAGES
Responsible Entity: Integrated Marketing Communications | Contact: Laura Huff
Each of our undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certification programs has a landing page used specifically for marketing and recruiting campaigns. Each landing page is designed to quickly capture the interest of a prospective student, lead them to more information, and encourage them to take the next step toward admission. A program page links to its catalog and department pages and includes meta data (keywords) that assist with search.
ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT PAGES
Responsible Entity: Web Support Services | Contact: Tarina Whitfield
Department pages within the Academics section of the website contain info that is more internal and hierarchical in nature and targets audiences who are more familiar with the academic structure of a university. A departmental page links to each program page within its area and may contain other info that the department deems necessary and that falls outside the scope of the catalog and program pages. This may include vision and mission statements, legally required accreditation information, and the like.
ACADEMIC CATALOG PAGES
Responsible Entity: Office of the Provost | Contact: London L. Mickle
The Academic Catalog is the official information of record for enrollment provisions. All academic program policy and curriculum requirements are published in this catalog section. Students enrolling in the university are subject to the provisions stated within. Academic department chairs and unit directors who have academic policies are responsible for reviewing and providing updates and edits to their catalog content each year.
Catalog Editing Process:
The Office of the Provost is responsible for updating the university catalogs each year and for meeting the goal of publishing the new catalog or a one-year addendum by July 1st. Once published, the catalog for the year is considered complete and approved. After that time, minor edits can occur but any changes to policy or curriculum requirements become effective the following July.
Once a catalog is published, a copy is created for the purpose of capturing changes for the following year. As changes to curriculum or courses are approved by the Academic Standards and Curriculum Committee or the Graduate Council or new/revised academic policies are approved by the Board of Trustees, the Office of the Registrar updates information in Banner and the Office of the Provost updates the draft academic catalogs in Acalog.
In the late spring, the Office of the Provost notifies department chairs to review information in the catalog and send edits as needed. The edits are processed as they are received. After editing, the changes to the catalog are then returned to the departments for approval of content and layout. The Office of Legal Affairs web page has a link to the universities approved policies. To avoid confusion, any policy update in the academic policies should also include a link to the approved policy on Legal Affairs web page.
Timelines/Deadlines: Both academic departments and units who have policies in the catalogs are notified in the late spring each year to review their catalog information for the next year. Pages must be reviewed and edits submitted to the Office of the Provost by May 15 to be included in the July 1 release of a new catalog. Completed edits are returned to departments as they are completed but no later than June 1. Final approval of the edits made in the catalog by the Office of the Provost must be completed by June 15.
Who Edits What?: Academic department chairs and unit directors who have academic policies are responsible for reviewing and providing updates and edits to their catalog content each year. An announcement will be sent to the content owners to remind them to review the sections in the catalog relating to their departments, programs, courses and policies. This is the opportunity to proof the previous information and submit corrections if something appears wrong or appears to be missed.
About: WSSU News is a news hub for Winston-Salem State University. The primary goal is to publicize positive stories about the university to local, regional, national and international media. The secondary goal is to tell WSSU’s unique story to a broad audience. Feeds from the site are on the homepage and also on several primary pages throughout the website.
Background: WSSU News began in July 2017 as part of a site wide website revamp. The site features news and feature articles about WSSU that are written and posted by WSSU’s News and Information, part of Integrated Marketing and Communications. Visit WSSU News.
Primary audience: The news media
- Faculty, staff and students
- Governmental, business and community leaders
- Potential faculty, staff
- Prospective students and their parents
- Donors and other friends of the university
News articles also are grouped using tagging. Tags serve two main purposes:
- To improve overall engagement on the site.
- To allow custom news feeds on key pages throughout the website.
Content Areas: WSSU News has three content areas:
- Feature sliders: This area, at the top of the news hub, highlights five recent features about WSSU. Articles selected should have large photos available and also be written in a feature style. One to two features are added per month.
- Content areas: This area features four primary links. These are reviewed and updated three times per year based on news and university goals. Current areas:
media resources, the page also includes a feed of the most recent media releases, an events feed and
a Twitter feed. This page has been targeted for expansion in early 2018.
Archway archives, and additional online extras. This area will include additional information as
Archway becomes an online publication.
custom news and events feed. Articles are selected for this area by WSSU News & Information. To
request an article, please complete a PIF form.
- WSSU News Feed: This area displays the four most recent articles posted in WSSU News.
Articles: WSSU News was created with the functionality of a blog, with articles of various type and length. This includes:
- News releases
- News briefs
- Profiles and Q&As
- Photo stories
- Video stories
Other features include:
• More News, which includes other related articles, based on the category
• A share toolbox, which allows for easy sharing on social media
Articles and photos may be republished on media sites as long as they are properly credited to WSSU.
- Interesting stories about students, faculty, staff and alumni
- Stories about WSSU’s academic programs, faculty research, and campus life that are of interest to a wider audience
- Major athletic accomplishments
- Major fundraising events and campaigns
- Emergency or crisis notifications
- Large community-focused events or events with nationally-known speakers
- Stories that are timely and relate to current news
What is Not Featured.
- Upcoming events that are not of interest to a large general public
- Workshops/conferences that do not feature well-known speakers or confirmed guests or are not open to the public
- Calls for entry (making a public request for something)
- Policy/procedural changes
Need to communicate these objectives? Consider posting the event on the university calendar or fill out a Campus Announcements form.
News Feeds: WSSU News articles also are displayed in areas across the website using tagging. The website debuted with news feeds on key landing pages, including:
- The College
- The School of Health Sciences
- Current Students
Requesting a news feed: Custom news feeds will be added based on these factors:
- Overall page views
- Alignment with news site goals
- Alignment with strategic plan
A mobile-first approach provides better usability of the site, content readability, and reduction in the amount of unnecessary elements from pages. We are taking a user-centric approach by applying the following guidelines.
- Prioritize what’s truly important to communicate.
- Get to the point, quickly and efficiently.
- Focus on headlines that grab the reader’s attention.
- Use article lead-ins, the first paragraph or two, to summarize key takeaways.
- Consciously vary the lengths of the content. Provide highlights in short summaries and allow your users the option to “Read More” in an accordion on the page or link to another in depth content page.
- Use graphic content that is easily shareable.
- Replace some of the written content with colorful infographics or informative videos.
- Integrate tappable elements that make calls to action easy to take.
Our website is accessible in order to provide equal access to people with diverse abilities.
- Every image, video file, audio file, plug-in, etc. should have an alt tag.
- Complex graphics are accompanied by detailed text descriptions.
- The alt descriptions describe the purpose of the objects.
- If an image is also used as a link, the alt tag describes the graphic and the link destination.
- Decorative graphics with no other function have empty alt descriptions (alt= "").
- Add captions to videos.