The audio for this podcast can be downloaded at http://highedweb.org/2009/presentations/tnt3.mp3
Announcer: You’re listening to one in a series of podcasts from the 2009 HighEdWeb Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
David Wissore:† Okay.† Well, thank you all for being here.† This is a lot more folks than we had ever imagined, ever anticipated so we hope that itís going to be worth your while.† Based on what weíve gone through, if somebody sat down with us and told us about this beforehand, we wouldíve been very grateful so we hope you get something out of it and so letís move in here.† Go ahead.† Can you introduce yourself?
Susan Ragland:† Again, my name is Susan Ragland.† Iím the web content editor for Tarrant County College District.† Just a little bit about Tarrant County College, we are a community college, however weíre the sixth largest institution of higher ed in Texas.† I think sometimes, not everyone but some people think community college is small.† No, weíre big and so we kind of understand some of the trials that large institutions, some of the things they have to go through and also with our background, weíve also done things with smaller schools so we understand all sides.† So my main role is to make sure that all content on our district website has a consistent voice and is user friendly and thatís the main thing weíll talk about today.† Itís how to get your content user friendly.
David Wissore:† It says Iím the webmaster.† Iím the lead technical administrator at the college for everything web.† Before I moved into that role, I was the lead technical person for distance learning and we had the third largest enrolments in the State of Texas in our distance learning program.
I moved over to this role in November of 2007 and the district had been looking at a way to redesign their website for about a year and a half and you know how it is.† It was kind of in committee for a year and a half and things were moving very slowly then they moved me up there and I said okay, I want to be live in a year so we need to get moving.
So what we did is I moved up there in November of Ď07 and in March of Ď08 was when actually Susan got started.† For those first four months, I was actually looking for content management system somewhere to find something that would be able to meet our needs.† What we did was as soon as she came on board, the next month we drove the committee to make a decision on a content management system and so we chose a system that we thought was going to be the best for us.† Then in April of Ď08 like I said, we chose that and in June of Ď08 that company sent down a representative for us to get started with our process.
We found that there were four major obstacles to our quest of having the holy grail of websites for our institution.† That being said, those four are information architecture, wire frames, design and content.† Now, before I get past this, I kind of want to get a feel for who we have in the room.† How many administrators do we have in the room?† Okay, all right.† We promise to be nice to you.† How many technical folks do we have in the room?† Okay, great.† How many public relations type, marketing folks do we have?† Okay.† And how many others do we have that arenít in one of those three?† Okay, great.
Susan Ragland:† How many wear all the hats?
David Wissore:† Yes.† How many?† Thatís two.
Susan Ragland:† The PowerPoint will be online.
David Wissore:† So our four major obstacles for our quest, like I said, information architecture, wire frames, design and content.† We want to focus on content in this session but I want to get through these first three so we can get to that point because these are really the steps that we took as we put our site together.† We had to get through our information architecture and our information architecture, thatís a big one that a lot of people think, okay, it was like the Knights of Ni in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.† It was a big, huge obstacle that people didnít think they were going to be able to get through.† They didnít know were the strawberry was going to come from; same with us, sort of like where do we start?† Letís start with the shrubbery and we worked our way through that.
Now, as you're looking at your information architecture, you're going to find things in your content.† Theyíre going to be able to help drive the change here but you donít have to necessarily make a change in your IA to make a change in your content.† Again, like it is with the next three, you want to start small and then move your way up to the upper level pages, so find something thatís buried and then work your way out.
The second obstacle was our wire frames.† We actually came up with a decent information architecture.† We had to develop our wire frames.† The French taunters, they were another big, huge obstacle to these folks and again, they were to us as well.† We had plenty of taunters out there.† We had plenty of committees, plenty of sub-committees, sub-committees of committees.† You know how that works.† So what we did is we worked within our wire frame.† We came up with what we wanted, where we wanted to lay things out, went through a month and a half of actually building a wire frame and got to the next step which was our design.
Susan Ragland:† Hold on one second.
David Wissore:† Yes.
Susan Ragland:† Does anyone not know what a wire frame is?† Okay.† Iíll do it brief.† A wire frame is once you have an idea of weíll start with the homepage, the links you would want on a homepage, where you want them placed, before you ever send it to the designer which David is going to talk about next, you need basically a skeleton of your webpages, of each type of webpage whether itís a homepage or a regular content page.† And it literally is just lines; some people, our project manager did them in Word.† Itís just basically a skeleton so you know where things will be on a page before you ever get going on the design.
David Wissore:† Thank you.† So from our wire frames, we move to our design which was another big obstacle.† It took us two months to get through a design for our site.† One of the reasons that it took us a month and a month and a half and the two months as compared to other places is because like I said, we had those committees out there but Susan and I grabbed this one and drove it through.† We talked to folks but we didnít want to have it sit in a committee for another year and a half and so we kind of took it and said, okay, this is where weíre going to with this.† This is based on the research that weíve done and luckily our folks there said okay, you all know what you're doing so run with it and it worked out well for us.
Again, you're only ready for design after the previous stuff has been done.† Again, it was a fairly large obstacle.† It did take us several months to do but I think what we came up with after all that process was good.
The final obstacle is our content.† Everybody knows that the content seems like itís just a ittie-bitty old problem.† We have content and that was what we were told all along the process.† All we got to do was get through this other stuff and we already have content so weíll just go ahead and bring what we have and put it in the new site and that was where we draw the line and said no.† We told everybody in the college.† We said everything thatís going on this new site is going to be entirely brand new.† It will be rewritten for the web, by the web, based on the things that Susan will talk about here in a minute based on best practices and the research that we did because all the stuff that was before was all the stuff that we had for the last 10 years and some of that stuff was outdated by about three years.† We had dates on there that it was very sad.
Content, while it seems to be the smallest, everybody goes yes, weíve got that, we can just put that in, everybody knows what happens if you just ignore the little problems and what can happen when they launch at you.† Susan said the next picture was too graphic so I left it off but everybody remembers in the movie what would happen next.
So Iím going to let Susan talk about actually what we went through and what the best practices for content building are.
Susan Ragland:† Yes, okay.† People donít want to be marketed to.† They want to be communicated with.† I think we all understand this idea when someone tries to sell us something and are being kind of smoozy, it really I think unnerves many of us and I know what unnerves mean.† So when we approach our web content, we ought to take the approach of having a conversation with people visiting our site.† We donít want to flood it with marketies.† We donít want to flood it with flowery language.† I think a lot of times especially considering that often on our campuses we have faculty writing content for their department or discipline pages.† And so they tend to write like a faculty member.† Theyíre using flowery language and they want it to sound really good.† They want it to sound smart but what that actually does is turns off users and it makes it more difficult for them to find the information they want.
What weíll do just to illustrate this point, and Iím not sure how far back youíll be able to see the example very well, but weíre going to look quickly at a webpage.† I compiled this webpage, I looked at gosh, this was last summer, probably hundreds, literally hundreds of different higher ed webpages at their disciple pages, content.† Some of this is verbatim from several sites.
So what weíll do is weíre going to look at a page for child development studies at example college.† What I want you to do is for a minute put yourself in the position of someone who would be visiting a college site.† Maybe you're a student or a parent and you want to know do they offer a degree or maybe a certificate of completion for those of you that, community colleges we often have certificates of completion.† Is there information about required courses?† What about careers?† Right now, a lot of people are really interested in what kind of jobs can I get if I study this subject.† And is there a way to contact someone for more information?
Iím going to give you a gimme, a little sneak pick into a couple of slides ahead.† I will tell you that research shows you have 10 to 15 seconds to capture the attention of someone before they click away from your page.† This means when theyíre quickly reading through and reading is used loosely which weíll talk about, thatís it, 10 to 15 seconds.† If they donít find a word that theyíre hunting for, theyíre going to click away.† So what weíll do in a minute, Iím going to put content up on this so you could ignore all of the navigation on the top and the left.† Pretend that you have now come to the page youíre pretty sure you need to be on and Iím going to leave it up for 10 seconds and just read through it, see what you can find as far as information if you needed to know about this program.
That was 10 seconds.† It was a time deal.† There is a little bit of information in there, so did anyone find anything, especially the ones up front that probably could see a little better?† No.† They were welcoming and even friendly.† Okay.† Does that tell us about child development studies program?† Not so much.† Okay.
So they welcomed us.† Weíll talk about that in a minute.† Thatís how weíll talk about that, right?† Okay.† What about all of this?† What about all of that?† I will say that if you came up to me and I actually worked at example college and you said, I need to know about child and family studies.† What can you tell me?† I answered you with the Department of Child and Family Studies prepares early childhood and family life educators who respect diversity.† Have I told you anything?† Not really, especially when people are zipping through your page and you have 10 seconds to give them something to hold onto before they leave.
So this is what weíre going to fix.† Weíre going to talk about fixing this because even if you are unable to do a site redesign, and when we think of redesign, we automatically, some of us may not, think of making it pretty.† Well, you can put lipstick on a pig and itís still a pig but we can change the content to at least make the information people are trying to find easier to find and better for them.† So at least their user experience is better even if you arenít able to go through a redesign, especially right now when we know everyoneís budgets are being pulled back.
So letís talk about the content then.† We can try to attack this killer rabbit of content.† Weíll quickly talk about references and research because there is a method to the madness and then weíll talk about information on your page, why is that important?† And then, writing because the writing and the location actually tie back in to each other.
Jakob Nielsen and Bob Johnson, okay.† I think many of us may have heard of these names.† Jakob Nielsen, he held found the Nielsen Norman Group.† He has this website, useit.com where he puts out an electronic newsletter.† I will say this.† Everything that Jakob Nielsen has on its useit site does not apply to us.† Some of it applies to B2B websites but a lot of what he has to say we really can use and it really is helpful for our type of website.† And Bob Johnson, heís a proponent of higher education specifically and he often goes to conferences and speaks on writing content and you can also hire him to come to your institution for lots of money and he will talk to you about writing content.† This is where a lot of the research has come from but there are others that back up what weíll tell you today.
What weíre about to show you before we get started is a portion of an eye-tracking study.† Has anyone heard of an eye-tracking study?† Okay, a lot of people have.† So weíll quickly show you what this looks like on a screen where someone has sat in front of a computer, visited a website.† The website represented isnít our type of website but itís to show you these blue dots and your eye dancing across the screen.† This is how fast people are looking through your webpages.† Theyíre scanning your webpages.† Theyíre not reading it.† Where the eye lingers, the blue dot grows and so itís jumping around and thatís important for our next slide.
This is a heat map image of eye-tracking studies.† This webpage represents, even though itís BNSF, the same type of page as a disciplined page on a higher ed site.† Theyíve landed where theyíre pretty sure they know where they need to be.† Now, can they find the information they thought they would find?† So what this has done was taken a bunch of those eye-tracking studies and flattened it out.† Where itís red, people looked the longest or the most and then yellow and blue, hardly anyone gazed there but a few did.† Then of course if itís gray then no one looked there.
Does anyone have any idea of, okay, but I do want to hear from you all.† Some of you may have seen this so what do you all see, or what implications do you think this holds when you see where people are looking on your webpage?† People are looking for headings.† Thatís great.† Anything else?† Okay.† Iíll tell you.
Next slide, thank you.† There are two names Iíve seen online and one of our faculty two weeks ago gave me a third so Iíll share it as well.† It was almost lunchtime so when you hear it, youíll know why.† This is called the F pattern or the golden triangle because itís an inverted right triangle, or if youíre the faculty member right before lunch, itís the piece of pizza principle.† He thought it looked like a slice of pepperoni pizza.
We actually had every person who accesses our CMS which is all faculty and staff.† Right now itís over 200 who are in the system that contribute to our website.† Everyone before theyíre given access to the CMS has to attend a full day of training.† The first half is writing for the web so Iíve condensed our training for you guys down to 30 minutes and usually theyíre whole morning.† Then in the afternoon they learn how to access the CMS.
F pattern.† So there are some implications for where people are looking on your site.† Theyíre not looking over here, are they, where the ads are?† They have named that now banner blindness.† People arenít looking there.† They arenít looking toward the bottom of the page.† Theyíre trailing off.† Theyíre scanning across in a zigzag pattern.† Sometimes this is also called the Z pattern so theyíre scanning across.† They arenít even getting to the end of a paragraph.† So again, theyíre not reading our pages; theyíre scanning them.
So he said headings are important.† Subheadings are important.† Make sure you all are using your heading 2 and heading 3.† Those of you who understand HTML, your H2s and H3s, I say that because usually the title of your page is in H1.† Make sure you're using those effectively not only for your site visitors that are scanning the pages.† Thatís really important for those of you interested in ADA and section 508 compliance.† Thatís really important.
Make sure that your first two paragraphs have the most important information.† We use the word paragraph loosely.† Paragraph on the web could be one sentence.† It could be a set of bullet points with a heading.† So make sure your most important stuff is at the top and even when you're writing your bullet points, make sure that the first word or two in your bullet points have the information.
Letís not say the department of nursing at Tarrant County College offers bachelorís degree.† The Department at Tarrant County College offers blah, blah, blah.† Well, once you're on the department of nursingís page on your own website, two sets of words that are no longer information carrying on that page are Tarrant County College, Department of Nursing.† They know theyíre there.† Now, whatís important is what you offer and so make sure that when you write your content, you keep in mind where you are on your site because more likely than not, your logo is at the top so they know that theyíre on your schoolís page and usually somewhere at the top of your page you have some kind of heading for the department or discipline, official of financial aid, wherever you are, itís on the page.
Any questions?† Yes?
Male:† Is there any eye-tracking data on people in there?
Susan Ragland:† I think it all is smooshed into the same types of studies.† I donít know if theyíve separated it completely out but when people are reading, theyíre scanning left to right and that is because our language is read left to right.† Weíve done this in our classes for our faculty actually.† Al Jazeeraís website, you can tell their ads are on the left because they read right to left.† When people are scanning, theyíre zipping across and down so if you have a bulleted list, you can guarantee theyíre just zipping down those first words of your bulleted list.† Theyíre not reading the whole bullet list.† Unless they find a piece of information, a keyword that theyíre already hunting then they probably will stop and actually sort of read what you have to say.† Because when theyíre looking at our pages, theyíre hunting.† They have these words in their mind.† Theyíre thinking admissions, admissions, admissions and theyíre looking for A.† Theyíre hunting for admissions and if they find it then theyíre going to stop and then theyíll kind of read around or scan what you have to say about that.† Does that answer?† Not really?† Okay.
Before you start writing your content, assume that people visiting your site do not know anything about your org chart.† How often are we limited to creating our webpages based on our organizational chart?† Our website when we started looking, at the time we had four campuses, we now have five, so five campuses, each campus has their own breakdown of divisions; academic divisions.† Each division has their own department.† Theyíre not uniform across the district.† So in order for a student previously to find anything on our website about fire service training, they had to know it was on northwest campus and then they had to know it was in this particular division and then they could find it.
Why?† Why did we do that?† Why is it buried?† Why canít they come to our website, find a list of programs and find fire service training?† So we had to figure out, okay, our org chart, weíve got to go all the way down to the discipline level because these other things mean nothing to a site visitor.† Your institutionís lingo if you have any special lingo, donít assume that anyone else knows it.† Tying it with your institutionís logo, it could just be higher ed lingo.
We found again with talking to our academic counselors and advisors that students who are coming in did not know what core curriculum was.† And for a community college, thatís important because they need to take that block so they can then transfer to a four-year.† Well, everyone coming in, all the students they called that their basics.† They said I need my basics.† So they could never find it on our website because we sure werenít calling it the basics, and so thatís what we did.† We went out and we talked to people.† We actually have one of our coworkers here whoís going to be in China.† Heís in our information center and we worked closely with them because they get all the phone calls for the whole district.
We worked closely with our admissions people.† We figured out what are people saying and looking for.† So on our webpage about core curriculum, we renamed it basics/core curriculum.† Now, weíve met them where they are and weíve educated them on what we call it.
Donít assume they know everything about your program or department.† Our distance learning may be different than your distance learning and we may do things differently so donít assume that everyone or perspective students or anything know everything about the particular department you're trying to discuss on your webpage.
And again, put yourself in the position of all these constituencies that may be visiting your page.† It is all about the students but you also have these other visitors.† If you can keep these other visitors happy, it might make your job a little easier which I think we all know.
Okay.† So writing is writing is writing, right?† No.† We donít write novels the same way we write a newspaper article and itís not the same as we write a classified ad.† If you wrote a classified ad the way you wrote a novel, you would never sell anything, except maybe a novel that you paid a bunch to print in the paper.
So what they found with this research is 79% of people scan webpages like weíve been talking about today.† That means theyíre not reading the content.† The first rule of thumb thatís usually given is 50% of what you would normally put maybe in something print, thatís how much you want on your webpage.† Well, usually when I say this in our training sessions, this is the minute I have one or two faculty shoot up their hand.† Well, I have to say what I want to say and Iím not going to say half of it.† Well, I donít want you to say half of the many steps.† I donít want you to say half of the important things.† Weíll just talk about how can you say in half as many words because we can cut out a lot of words and still get the same message across.
Hereís one of the big ones.† Cut the fancy language, and that welcome mat that we cut out on that first slide, cut it out.† They know what page theyíre on.† Thereís no need to welcome them, especially when we see that that first paragraph or two is your prime real estate on your webpage.† Why welcome them?† They know theyíre there.† Donít put it.
Yes.† Well, I will say the homepages are slightly different because people expect something different from a homepage.† Thereís not a lot of flowery stuff, language on the homepage.† We have links to our constituencies.† We have links to particular places that we had to put because you know when the library is in on your committee meetings and the library person says 100 times library will be on the homepage and Iím not exaggerating, library, library, library.† We know the library will be there.† So there are some things we know we canít compromise on and we have to put them.† There are things again, our constituencies we broke them down.
There are few more markety type things on your homepage because then you're also told that your homepage is a marketing tool.† So the homepage, thereís a fine line so it is a little different.
Another kind of welcome mat that you all may be familiar with called the welcome letter from the chancellor, president, department chair.† Okay.† So we canít cut that but we can move it.† Yes, bury it.
So what we did was in that, it took some finesse.† On our example, if you click on a campus page, it used to be the welcome letter from the campus president, and what we did was we made it a sub-page that got to keep their welcome letter and we just sold it to them that wow, now we can use this page to give them stuff that theyíre always calling you guys about like whatís your location or your campus office hours because our different campuses happen to have a little bit different hours.† And we had a couple of special tools, oh, we have this nice new area on the right where we can highlight special programs for your campus.† I mean there are ways that we do have to meet them halfway but some welcome mats we canít kill but we can move them.
And you have to put the www.† Why you ask.† He asked why we had to put the www.† We need to be little better friends with some of our IT folks I think.† Is that the best way to put it?† Okay.† We know that, yes.
Weíre not acting like this whole process we went through was a walk in the park either.† We know things are tough.
Another tip, donít use clever spelling.† This is a ridiculous example but this gives the point across.† If you're trying to be fun and spell physics with an F no one will find it, not only in search engines but if theyíre scanning your page, theyíre thinking of the word physics and theyíre hunting for this word physics, theyíre not going to find it like this.
Use terms your target audience is looking for.† This kind of ties in to what weíre talking about with our core curriculum and basics.† Talk to people.† What are the perspective students saying?† What words are they looking for?† Even on your faculty site, if you all put things on your website for faculty, like we donít necessarily have an intranet so we have to accommodate a bunch of things on our site, what are faculty calling that one form they can never find because maybe weíre calling what HR is calling it and faculty are not calling it that?† Yes.
Yes, a lot of times it came from a couple of places.† In our institution, they tie in together.† One is our enrolment services office.† They actually go out to schools and theyíre the ones that do the college fairs.† We also again talk with our information center.† Theyíre the ones fielding all the calls, the call center, so theyíre the ones getting all the calls and theyíre the ones who say, gosh, all we get is people who canít find what are the basics, what are the basics.† No one is asking about core curriculum but thatís what they mean after our phone agents talk to them for three minutes.† We know now what they mean and you may just have to tap into, because every schoolís different, what are some of the resources you can find?
Maybe it is walking down to the admissions office.† What are students asking for?† If you all have admissions counselors, sit down with them, ask them, what are students needing?† What canít they find?† What are they wanting?
This is an example.
Female: From another large community college, how do you handle the credit routine, for example?
Susan Ragland:† Did you want to?
David Wissore:† What we did is we broke it out to, basically their sub-site to the far site so that that way if you go to the site, they know they are looking for credit stuff.† But when they go to the continuing ed site, itís all about everything that they do from continuing ed services to training and all of that.† So we kind of kept it separate and then we do have a Google search.† We also have another type of search thatís sort of man-made search engine, and on each of those answers that we provide to folks, we give them the credit and non-credit/continuing ed answers so that they know where to go once they get inside.
Susan Ragland:† The other thing we do, a lot of our credit programs and continuing ed, theyíre not necessarily the same but theyíre related like dental hygiene and dental assistant.† We like back and forth to each other.† And also on our main page, we have a drop-down on courses and programs and we have a page that talks about credit versus noncredit because some people may not know.† Honestly, we were in the strategic planning for continuing ed for the district for the next two years out and you all probably know this already, did you know that offices donít know what other offices are doing at your school?
Yes, weíre in there and it just so happens one of our coworkers in our building, because again weíre spread out over the whole county, she does faith-based initiative on the credit side.† Well, weíre at a table with faith-based initiative on continuing ed and I said, well, do you know Mara Paine and I was like, hmm?† I said yes, sheís faith-based initiative on the credit side.† We have faith-based initiative on the credit side?† I said you all need to talk because you all could be double dipping first of all, you know when you're trying to get things done.† Second of all, why not share resources?
So we tried to link back and forth whenever we can because just like with the faith-based initiative, a student, especially in a community college, may or may not care if they have a degree.† They want to attain a career or a job, and so they may not care which route it is and so we try to link back and forth between the two when we can.† Okay?
Some things that you may know or some of you may just only subconsciously know.† So users expect underlined or colored text to be a hyperlink.† We might think oh yes, thatís true, but then I know we still get faculty that submits something they want to place emphasis on it so they underline it.† The problem is again when people are scanning even if itís just this fast, theyíre going to try to click on that and when they canít click or it doesnít work, it cognitively slows them down.† So we just want to make things as easy as possible for them.† Actually on our CMS, we took away their ability to underline and we took away all their fonts and colors.† Yes.
If I still donít get phone calls even though on training we tell them, but I want it red, I want it to stand out.† You donít need it to stand out.† Itís fine.
So instead, use bold; bold is your friend.† But this is the other thing we have to pull back the reins on them.† Donít bold the whole sentence or the whole paragraph.† Itís different than in print.† Unless itís the assistant?† No.† Actually, yes, well, we emailed him.† Our executive assistant so the chancellor submitted a form we needed for the H1N1 so employees could tell us if they were sick and he had everything bolded, everything was bold.† David and I -
Male:† Itís probably important.
Susan Ragland:† Itís all important.† David and I, I was like, David how do we handle this?† Itís Dr. Lace.† And heís like, well, do you want to tell him?† I was like okay, so I emailed him and I said, Dr. Lace, one of the things we have found, and I explained to him and Dr. Lace is very understanding so actually he goes, okay, well then letís just make it italics.† So yes, we had to leave it at italics but at least itís not all bold I guess.† Small victory.
But if anyone asks you, you can tell them that the research shows the human eye can only pick up two to three words at a time when you're scanning so if you have the whole sentence bold, you're not going to see it.† Youíve actually negated the fact that you made it bold.
Weíre going to zip through this in case there are any questions.† This is an example off of Jakob Nielsenís website and I just updated this slide last night at 10:30 because he has updated his page.† So this was the original text from a Nebraska website and if you were trying to find out about quickly the top six attractions in Nebraska, youíd have to read this whole thing.† And Iím already turned off if I start to read.† Theyíre filled with internationally recognized attractions.† Yey, Nebraska, but really, internationally recognized attractions?† If youíre from Nebraska, Iíve been to Carhenge, I loved it, Iím just saying.
So this on his site last night, this increased the usability of this section of information by 124% by using bullet lists and cutting out all the craziness.† Boom, now you can scan down again with the bullet list.† You're not reading the paragraph, you can just scan the list if you're looking for a particular attraction such as Carhenge and there it is.
Quickly, when doing this training also, we were called Satan by an English faculty.† We kid you not.† At first I thought he was kidding and I donít know still.† I donít know, because we talked about the bullet list and heís like, you are Satan.† I was like, hmm?† Awesome.† I was unaware.† And he said you're contributing to the bulletization of the English language.† I sat there for a minute and I was just at a lost and I said, well, you know what, I didnít invent it.† I didnít invent bullet lists and I didnít invent this way to write.† What Iím telling you is how people are reading so if you want them to know whatís on your page and you want to get your information across, this is how you have to write.† So I still think he things weíre Satan.
So weíre going to zip through these real fast.† These are just a few examples.† The whole sentence is bold here at the annual award ceremony but why not just highlight those important dates, only have them bold.† We went ahead and made this deadline bold too.
So the next thing, what about this click here?† Click here is not important.† Theyíre scanning.† The first thing that stands out to them is click here.† Why?† Itís blue.† Itís the most different on the page.† Well, why do we make them stop and either click it to find out what is this or read this whole sentence, make criteria the hyperlink?† I still get this even though we train them on this.† I think they just want to hear me scream.† So rewrite your hyperlinks to do double duty.
In addition to that, maybe suggest to your content contributors, we go through this all the time, do you realize that you didnít actually link to the form that you're needing them to get?† And you complain about the foot traffic to your office, put the form up, suggest to your content contributors if they can include forms, make things easier for the end user where they donít have to call you or come in or email you that kind of helps everybody actually.
So just by doing those few things, weíve made the things that are important bold, made our hyperlinks actually do double duty, we considered our content, weíve shortened this up by more than 50% of the words.
Back to our first example, this is one way you can rewrite your content and increase usability for a discipline page by using subheadings and it naturally falls in the F pattern without even trying.† You donít even have to try to think about the F pattern if you follow those guidelines on how to write your content to make it more user-friendly.
Here are our reference links on some of this writing stuff.† We went through that last part pretty fast.† Any questions?† Yes?
David Wissore:† Itís going to be on the website here in just a while.
Susan Ragland:† Yes, we turned in our PowerPoint.
Female: I'm in the process of doing all this in our College of Arts and Sciences in our university right now. And I have some departments that are like, "No, we have to have the theoretical descriptions of our disciplines on the home page. And I actually have the home page on for three months. How do you get that buy in that this is not what you guys really want?† And we ended up having to have a compromise where the first paragraph, they had to have what the discipline was and then we have what careers do you get. How do you get that type of buy-in?† When we tried to talk to them, they say, well, we want those and we donít want those students.† Theyíre going to be like that...
Susan Ragland:† To repeat her question for the podcast, she wants to know how do you get faculty buy-in on doing it this way rather than those long theoretical paragraphs.† Well, that is a hurdle, that is a huge hurdle.† Well, Iíll tell you one thing that helped us.† It was we had buy-in over the faculty.† We had several vice chancellors who understood.† They were willing to listen to us when we said, now we didnít just say this is Susan and David and itís going to be great, we had research.† We did all this research, so much research and now you all can have this PowerPoint of research to share.
We had buy-in above the faculty so they had to.† Now, donít get me wrong.† Everyday, I still get emails and itís a back and forth battle but we did have buy-in above the faculty so the faculty knew well, so and so and so and so.
David Wissore:† And just because weíve got the buy-in from the faculty doesnít mean we still, like she said this is an everyday thing.† Right now, weíre still fighting emails back and forth right now with the folks from the libraries because the libraries feel that the first thing they need to show is their catalog and that stuff and weíre trying to explain to them that they have so many more services than just their catalog.† So it does take a little while sometimes to do this and if youíve got rational logical thinkers, which faculty are not, then it may be easier.† But if you donít, you just have to sit down and kind of -
Female:† You know itís hard to get in.
David Wissore:† Sometimes yes.† Like the story like the italics on the form, okay, this is the way itís going to work.
Female:† Do you have Google Analytics in any way to say, okay we will wait six months then Iíll do Google Analytics, weíre going to show you what weíve got.
Susan Ragland:† Thatís what weíre in the process of doing now.† Weíve got Google Analytics in place and weíre waiting for a good time period where we can show them because thatís on several fronts.† We have battles about alias URLs.† We have all kinds of battles, so we know you have battles but if you take them little pieces at a time, thatís what weíre saying, you may not even be able to overhaul your whole site but if you can start with these other groups, small, and work your way up, it may help.
Yes?† You had a question?
Male: †I was also going to suggest that you follow the F design there, if you could spot that it appears to be prominent, say, over at the right, give them a little area to have a second search do and then have a read more.
Susan Ragland:† Thatís a good idea.
Female:† We tried that too.
Male:†We've shared as we've said, a half day of training on writing and you want to give them the same thing. Can you do a share of those notes?
Susan Ragland:† Yes.† He asked about how we do a half day of training on writing and can we share those notes.† Yes.† Actually, Iíll give you my school web address if you want it.† Itís cartella.tccd.edu and then youíll have to do a search for Susan Ragland or just Ragland and when you come to my page, thatís my employee webpage.† There, I have documents and I have all of my notes that we use for our training in there.† Ragland, R-A-G-L-A-N-D.
Soon, actually I told them after I was through with this conference, thereís a blog area for our employees.† Iíll be using my blog to also give them tips on writing.† So anyone who wants to follow or you can find me at ilikephysics on Twitter.
David Wissore:† It looks like weíre out of time now but weíll be here and if you have any questions, please feel free to swing by and ask us.† Weíll be very glad to do that.
Susan Ragland:† Yes.† Thank you.