All posts by Joel Vertin

Meeting Photography Needs

As marketing requests have grown and as an emphasis on visuals through print, social media, and websites have continued to expand, the need for quality photography in our projects has changed over time.

In response to this shifting dynamic, our University photographer, Sarah Bird, has shifted to a marketing photographer role.

Sarah will focus on producing the visuals that bring UMC projects to life. She will capture the people, experiences, and opportunities of Michigan Tech in a way that represents and enhances our brand. She will work with departments, groups, and areas on high-impact, external-facing projects.

Internal Projects and Event Coverage

We understand that there has also been growth in internal requests, including projects that have a smaller scope or which are event oriented. To best use our resources, we would like to explore ways to shape and elevate these projects into a larger marketing initiative. If the request ultimately falls outside our scope, we will offer student interns as their schedules allow.

Additionally, we are working with the student photography club to develop a list of students that departments can hire on a case-by-case or semester basis to get more coverage. This will add an additional layer of support to campus.

Making a Request

If your department would like to request a photographer to take photos, you can use our online photo request form. 2-3 weeks notice is preferred to assist with planning and to increase the chances that we can fulfill your request. If a photographer is not available or if your request is outside of our scope, we may suggest a set of existing photos instead and we may provide a list of students that can be hired by your department instead.

If your department would like to request a set of photos already on file within UMC, you can use our online photo search form. Our photo request links are also available on the UMC website.

If you have any questions or concerns about this shift, you are welcome to contact Joel Vertin at 906-487-3635 or jcvertin@mtu.edu.


OU Campus: A Better CMS for All

We are excited to begin rolling out our new CMS product, OU Campus, beginning in April. We have created an entirely new printed workbook and corresponding blog posts to help campus learn this new system.

There are many things that are easier to do in OU Campus. Each webpage will have a shortcut link in the footer that you can use to easily access and update content directly in the CMS. The update process will be more visual: no more slotting or creating multiple Highlights before assembling your webpage. You’ll be able to publish your changes instantly, instead of waiting for the next scheduled publish.

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What is Your Call-to-Action?

Each webpage on your site should have a purpose. Some pages are meant to inform. Some to elicit contact or conversation. And others to have the user perform an action such as requesting more information, applying to Michigan Tech, or placing a donation.

Find Your Purpose

Whether you are creating a new webpage, updating existing content, or auditing your website, you should identify your key pages—the ones that will let or motivate a user to take action. Once these key pages are identified, you should assess whether or not you have clear calls-to-action (CTAs) in place.

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Switching CMS Vendors

In response to ongoing feedback, the Digital Services team is working to switch CMS vendors. Our new product will be OU Campus, powered by OmniUpdate. OmniUpdate was founded in 1982 and began serving higher education institutions in 2001. Unlike our current product, OU Campus has undergone numerous upgrades over the past decade to keep up with industry trends and best practices.

We went through a rigorous process to choose a new vendor. An important last step was to demo OU Campus to a number of CMS users across campus. Feedback was very positive with many asking how soon they could make the switch. We’re excited to provide this new technology to campus.

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Heading to Memphis

Three members from the Digital Services team (Gail, Q, and I) will be traveling to Memphis for the HighEdWeb 2016 annual conference in mid October. If you haven’t heard of this conference, it is wonderful. Web professionals from colleges and universities across the country come together to talk shop. Working in higher education provides a unique set of challenges and who better to get advice from than from your peers—people who have and understand the same problems as you?

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Avoid Duplicating Meta Descriptions

Often times, it is easiest to copy something that you have already made in the CMS, to use as a starting point. Am I right? This is particularly true with Generic Pages. You’ve already made this particularly awesome webpage and now you want to copy it. You duplicate the item in the CMS, update the content, send it to Public and you’re done with it. Easy! One issue that we are seeing more and more though, is duplicated meta descriptions. This is often because people don’t know what a meta description is or why it is important.

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Will My iPhone Photo Work?

Our new CMS templates put a premium on photography. Compelling images help tell better stories. They catch your eye and draw you in. Make you say ‘wow.’ A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Everyone seems to have a smartphone with an amazing camera these days. My iPhone goes everywhere with me. I’m sure yours does too. It can capture a photo from your research lab as you conduct a new experiment. Your internship in Silicon Valley. Your kayak ride on the canal. Or mountain biking on the Tech trails. There are many opportunities to capture the Michigan Tech story each day.

Lately, more people have been asking if an iPhone photo is high enough quality for a CMS webpage. The answer is “it depends.”

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Know Your Audience

As we move through 150 CMS websites, upgrading to our latest template, we have been getting a number of disheartening requests for featured homepage content. Because of this, I would like to offer a friendly reminder to know your audience.

Example 1: An Academic or Donation Website?

We had one academic department wish to ask for donations boldly at the top of their homepage. My question is: what is their main mission? I would hope that it is to attract and educate students and not to simply raise money. Obviously, attracting donors, connecting with alumni, and securing sponsored research is important. I get that. However, if I am a 17 year old high school student looking at your program information and I’m asked about donating as my first interaction with your department, do you think I will come to Michigan Tech?

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