Creating Purposeful Content
Every piece of content needs a job, either serving an audience need or fulfilling an organizational goal (preferably both). It is also important that your content is concise and well-organized, particularly for those using mobile devices.
Rewrite or Create New Content #
- Before you start writing, ask yourself:
- What purpose does this serve?
- Does this meet audience needs first?
- Does this fulfill an organizational goal?
- Start with a simple outline with key messages to help you create a hierarchy and organize your ideas in a logical way.
- Be concise:
- Use short paragraphs, with the first paragraph being the most important. Try to emphasize one idea per paragraph.
- Write short sentences and use familiar words. Use half the words that you would use in standard writing.
- Avoid vague language, jargon, and slang, while omitting unnecessary modifiers. If you need to use an abbreviation or acronym that people may not understand, explain what it means on first reference.
- Some people will read every word you write, while others will just skim. Group related ideas together and clearly separate different topics using descriptive Headings and Subheadings. This improves scannability and encourages better understanding.
- Write using an active voice and review the WVU Brand Voice.
- Try not to repeat large sets of content on multiple pages by placing content in one place and linking to it.
- Avoid using directional language to refer to something on a particular page (Example: “Click the button on the right”). Due to the wide-range of screen sizes on the devices accessing your website, the page structure may change and re-flow, leaving any directional language confusing for the reader.
- When creating new pages:
- Name your pages with keywords in mind. Think of how your page's name will appear in search results.
- Keep in mind that a page's name will also become its URL. (Example Page Name will become http://website.com/example-page-name.)
- Do not abbreviate words in page names.
Focus On Your Audience #
With student, resident, and faculty recruitment being the most important campus-wide goal, it's essential to make sure that program and application information, information requests, and contact information is easy to find and accessible.
- Statistics: Quick information is one of the most effective ways to draw someone into a website.
- Photography or video: People develop feelings about a website visually before any text can ever be processed mentally. Please see our section about images for suggestions on how to get good photos or videos.
- Stories: Use the SOLE News System to highlight stories or create rich student, alumni, or faculty profiles on your website to let them inform people about what your group does.
University Specific Jargon and Internal Terminology #
It's also important to think of how you are approaching your audience (or how your audience is approaching you). It's best to assume that your audience has no knowledge of the university. Because of this, the language you use is important.
University-specific jargon and terminology should not be abbreviated until after it's been fully introduced (Example: "Personal Rapid Transportation (PRT)" for the first use. Afterwards, "PRT" is okay).
Internally-used abbreviations should not be used at all (Examples: SOD, SOM, SON, SOP, SPH, HSC, UC-Berkeley). Location abbreviations such as school and campus names should always be written out fully for their first use in content. After the first use, do no repeat the fully-written name over and over. Using words like "we" and "our" creates a more personal and relatable tone. The goal is recruitment, but they shouldn't be spoken to like a customer.
Avoid Under Construction Pages #
Do not create blank pages or pages with "Coming soon", "Under construction", or similar copy. These types of pages do not provide useful information for your audience and will end up turning users away, distracting users from the relevant information that you have in the rest of your website.