Aimee and I trekked to Atlanta for the annual ConfabEDU, a three-day conference for professionals who work exclusively with website content in higher education. We spent three days cramming as much information and as many ideas as we could into our brains and notebooks — and we spent the last week processing it all. Now, we're ready to share what we learned with you!
What I love about conferences, and ConfabEDU in particular, is it gives us all a time to separate ourselves from the hustle and bustle of everyday work while still being in a collaborative and constructive environment. I'm still thinking about UL Lafayette, our websites, and our content strategy, but I'm not thinking about the next item on my to-do list. And, of course, we're learning. All the things.
Here's a little taste of our week at ConfabEDU 2014, but if you want to know more, don't hesitate to contact me, Elizabeth Rose, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye out for upcoming blog posts on everyday accessibility, showing your work, and more. We learned too much to cram into one blog post.
Analytics & Storytelling
Aimee and I took advantage of a day-long workshop about improving our content with analytics — geek speak for judging how effective your website is by looking at the number of visitors and how they interact with your site. I've made myself very familiar with the Google Analytics tools that we use on our websites, and I would be more than happy to share your site's numbers with you. And if someone wants to be our guinea pig, we could try out a few new things, too...
Get With the Program
I went to a great session from Doug Gapinski called "Get With the Program" about how to present programs, majors, and degree pages on your sites. Basically, our programs are the University's core product, just as shoes are for Nike. If we don't present our programs clearly and explain why a student should study that program at UL Lafayette, then we're not doing ourselves justice.
We have to help our students understand why a degree from your department is valuable — and what is unique about earning it here. For each department, we've asked you to compile your "Points of Pride" list, and this is exactly why those bragging points are important. What makes you stand out?
Other small takeaways from ConfabEDU 2014:
- The web is a conversation, not a filing cabinet. Be intentional about what you share and the stories you tell.
- Empower your students to help create content. Ask them to write news stories, share advice, or participate in web content creation. You may be surprised about how many students want to contribute.
- Know what your goals are, and use your web content to help meet those goals. A clear vision and intentional action can go a long way.