Campus communities center around a mission of transforming lives through education. People on your campus are proud of what they do — individually and collectively — and to them, the website is a symbol of that pride. At the start of a website redesign, internal stakeholders simply want to be sure the website will reflect their passion for an institution that offers opportunity and makes a difference in the world.
With care comes conflict. People want to be consulted. While they dislike the status quo, they fear change and want proof that something new will work better. How do you transform your website when people don’t agree? How do you focus less on constraints and more on momentum? How do you create the future state on your campus — a clear and professional vision for your institution’s site?
You get out of your own way.
If you are a marketing leader planning for a website redesign in 2017, you already know that campus expectations are high and projects like this are inherently about risk and change. Position yourself for success by considering three principals:
Back to basics: your public-facing website is your open front door, and its purpose is to communicate with external audiences. Concretely, the .edu website is the digital expression of your brand — it is the always-available platform for communicating what you stand for in the minds of the people you want to reach, influence, and move to action.
Concretely, the website is not about technology, it is of technology. The technology is essential and in a supporting role as you make choices about content and engagement. Your leadership of a website redesign will require you to respect this nuance. Specifically, you will:
Let engagement with the audiences you need to reach be the inspiration of your website redesign. Count on marketing strategy supported by technology to achieve your business goals.
I’m old enough to remember the shock of hearing a campus executive state, “Let’s wait and see — this website thing might not really take off.” Fast forward a decade, and it’s been a long time since I had to explain why an .edu website is important. What I do explain nearly every day is that websites require investment. Campus executives understand the priority of the website and know it isn’t “free,” but they need our help redirecting financial and human resources toward it in the midst of competing campus priorities.
We value what we invest in. The website is your 24/7 public face with a reach greater than all other branded channels. Absent enough resources for all channels, investment in the website must take priority. Sometimes this means making the case (or the decision) to stop spending dollars and time on less valuable communications channels when your .edu site is withering on the vine.
Engaging an external partner to support you is a moment in time — but not for the reasons you think. Yes, consulting partners offer best practice, benchmarking, and deep expertise in strategy and digital trends. Certainly, their insights about your website are rooted in knowledge capital. That’s all table stakes — what you want is a partner who can jump start the website redesign project, creating enthusiasm and helping you develop a plan for success now and later as you evolve the newly-launched site.
Your website redesign project is inherently about risk and change. Managing both requires intention and careful attention. You need contributing experts at your side.
This means you plan for the future state, you educate internal stakeholders, you persuade campus executives, and you take risks with experts at your back. At mStoner, we do this every day. We’re ready when you are.
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Join us this week for a free webinar:
Website redesign projects are high stakes and complex. On Wednesday afternoon, I will team up with two key members of the Saint Louis University Marcom team — Mark Rimar and Anne Marie Apollo-Noel — for a live (and lively) discussion about the redesign of SLU.edu. You can expect a combination of best practice, tips, and maybe a little humor to help you plan for success on your own campus. Reserve your spot.