User Experience

This post about user experience goes hand-in-hand with a previous post I wrote about user intent. Once you know your audience and figure out what they need and when, you need to create the content on your website in a meaningful way. According to usability.gov,

User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations.  It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of your product and any related services.


User Intent

Once you know your audience, the next step is to understand them a little more and figure out what they want and need. User intent is an important concept when designing and building webpages to help increase both search rankings and the value of your pages to your audience. This should be the cornerstone of building and editing your webpages.

According to Wikipedia, user intent, also known as query intent or search intent, is what a user intended or wanted to find when they did their search. These intentions are often categorized into three goals:

  • Navigation: getting to a specific site (Go)
  • Information: getting more information about a particular topic (Know)
  • Transaction: performing an action, such as purchasing or applying (Do)

Google Analytics Data Updates

Digital Services manages the University’s Google Analytics implementation. We have a couple of updates for anyone in the campus community who reviews or reports analytics for their CMS website(s).

Pageviews

During the fall semester, we made some adjustments to our tracking code to better attribute digital advertising conversions between Google AdWords and Slate CRM.


Common Errors on Webpages

There are many common issues you can watch for on your webpages to help increase the quality and search engine optimization (SEO) of your pages, make them more accessible, and follow Michigan Tech’s editorial standards.

Specific instructions that may be included below are for Michigan Tech’s Omni CMS.

Misspellings

It only takes a few misspellings to affect a user’s impression of your website. Be sure to use the spell checking options within Omni CMS before publishing your pages. The system does not check spelling as you go. Within the editor you can use the Spell Check icon Spell Check icon to check the existing text and underline spelling errors. Before publishing you should always run the Final Checks, which includes a spelling check.


Communicating on COVID-19

Many areas of Michigan Tech are in charge of various guidelines, protocols, resources, frequently asked questions, and other information resulting from COVID-19. What is the best way to get this content onto your CMS website?

Documents or Webpages?

If your department is generating or receiving new content, you generally have a couple options for posting it online:

  1. Add to an existing webpage
  2. Create a new webpage
  3. Upload as a Word Document or PDF

If you have a small amount of content, like a status update, that relates to an existing webpage, we recommend adding a message box to that existing page. See the COVID-19 message box at the top of the Current Students webpage for an example.

If you have a lot of content, we recommend creating a new webpage. Here are some examples from other departments:

Sometimes, it may be tempting to post a PDF or other document format. Because these files are not as accessible or easy to use as a CMS webpage, we recommend only posting files if they are coming from a non-Michigan Tech entity, like the CDC or State of Michigan. An exception to this recommendation could be if the document is solely for printing purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

When posting COVID-19 frequently asked questions, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Add a date after the answer, so users know if the information is new, has changed, or has been verified recently. Review several of the HR FAQs to see statuses used well.
  2. If you have more than seven total FAQs, try to organize them into subcategories to make your listing more scannable and readable. Review the groupings used by the HR FAQs as a good example.

In Omni CMS, use the FAQ Ordered List snippet to format your questions and answers.

Message Boxes

You may need to post a COVID-19 related message box onto an existing webpage. Examples include:

You can create a message box by using a Boxed Sections snippet with single column and full border options selected in Omni CMS.

Homepages

Calling out your COVID-19 information on your homepage may be important. There are a few options to do this:

Mediazone

You can add rollover buttons within the Mediazone of your homepage. Examples include:

In Omni CMS, select the Text Over Image banner type in the MultiEdit Content screen and add content in the Media Title and Banner Content fields.

Message Box

You can add a message box to your homepage or work your COVID-19 content into your existing message box. As an example, Facilities worked their COVID-19 content into there Announcements box:

Message boxes are created by using a Boxed Sections snippet with single column and full border options selected in Omni CMS. On a homepage, this is generally done in the Main Content region.

Blog Feed

If you have a blog feed on your homepage, you can make COVID-19 posts in your department blog that feed your homepage. HR does a good job of this:

Cross-Linking Content

There may be content from the COVID-19 website that applies to your own website. It is great to cross-link resources! Use the tactics listed above to reference any relevant COVID-19 content from any site onto your own website.

Similarly, you can cross-link your own content across your CMS website. For example information about pass/fail could be linked to on a homepage, a webpage about GPA, and a webpage about add/drop schedules. Link to new COVID-19 content where ever you think your audience might look for it or find it helpful.


You can use and combine these tactics to get COVID-19 content in front of your audiences.

Questions? Email cmshelp@mtu.edu. We are here to help you and are happy to talk through what your scenario is and what might be best. We are also happy to provide technical support.

Stay safe everyone!

Joel Vertin
Director of Digital Services


My Michigan Tech (Student Testimonial) Initiative

We have been busy launching a student testimonial initiative called My Michigan Tech over the past few months. This is really neat project that has allowed us to talk to a bunch of our students and learn about their Michigan Tech experiences.

Project Motivation

In August, an admissions and enrollment consultant came to campus. One great idea shared was to prioritize letting prospective students learn about Michigan Tech through storytelling by our current students. This could be accomplished through quotes and stories in text and video forms.

Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool. More importantly, though, it is a genuine way to share great information about Michigan Tech. Our students are our story, after all. Why not hear from them?


Improving Our YouTube Channel

Video screenshot example.

We have been working on reorganizing our YouTube channel and reprioritizing the type of video projects that we take on. This process involved benchmarking YouTube channels from over two dozen other universities, creating and updating playlists on our channel, and reorganizing our existing videos.

Our writing team has helped us craft our video titles, descriptions, and, tags. We have started outsourcing closed captions (and open captions where needed). We have explored which videos should be public (triggers a push notification to our subscribers) versus unlisted (great when you need to embed on a website, but don’t need the video to otherwise be publicly available). And UMC’s change in focus has allowed us to pursue high-impact projects.

Through all this, our efforts have been paying off.


A Better Footer for All

The Digital Services team is developing an upgraded global footer design for our CMS websites. The upgrade puts a strategic focus on marketing and recruitment in line with our mission to increase enrollment.

Customization

We are excited to introduce some new, customizable options. In addition to customizing your contact information, you will now be able to add call-to-action (CTA) buttons and social media icons to your CMS website’s footer. Options include:

  1. No CTA buttons or social media icons (base footer only)
  2. Add social media icons linking to the social media channels of your choice
  3. Add a “Give” button, linking to the giving page of your choice
  4. Add three recruitment buttons, letting users Request Information, Schedule a Visit, or Apply

You can also use any combination of option #2, #3, and #4.


A New Focus in 2019

As Digital Services gears up for 2019, it is important to acknowledge some leadership changes that have taken place. Through the restructuring within the President’s Council (formerly the Executive Team), University Relations and Enrollment (URE) was elevated and University Marketing and Communications (UMC) has been tasked with boosting the University’s external reputation and recruitment efforts nationally.


Upgrading your Giving Priorities

When we started rolling out CMS websites back in 2007, many of our academic departments wanted some sort of Giving Opportunities webpage on their shiny new website.

Some departments were able to hone in on a few key priorities. Some departments struggled to chose specific priorities, so they kept things very vague. And some departments listed everything fund they had and the kitchen sink.

These pages generally looked the same: an image slideshow, some headings and bullets, and some “Give Now” buttons.