Content for your department's website should serve the needs of
an array of potential visitors.
Our websites have many audiences. On any day, they might include
- Prospective undergraduate, master's and certificate-seeking
- Prospective MD students
- Prospective PhD students
- Prospective residents
- Prospective faculty
- Current students
- Faculty from your department or from other departments and
- Faculty and researchers from other institutions
- Primary and secondary school educators
- Students' parents
- Accrediting bodies
- Potential business and industry partners
- Community members
You could easily extend this list even further. Visitors are
likely to vary in age, from prospective students 16 and younger to
alumni and others who are 80 and older. Visitors may range from
those without a high school education to distinguished researchers
and educators, and they may come to your website from down the hall
or from the other side of the world.
Because these groups are often looking for the same information,
you should present your content in a way that addresses the needs
of more than one group.
Consider a news post announcing that “Professor X has
published an article on the inhibition of the activation pathway of
the T-type calcium channel Ca(V)3.1 by ProTxII.” That
sentence may meet the needs of your faculty, and perhaps other
scientists in the field. What about other audiences?
- A prospective undergraduate student may want to know what
ProTxII is and whether he can take a class with the professor who
did the research. Link to Professor X's faculty profile and
appropriate course descriptions in the college catalog in the
- A prospective graduate student may know what ProTxII is. She
may be interested in being a research assistant to the faculty
member who did the research. Link to his faculty profile and his
- Other on-campus departments may be less interested in this
article and more interested in seeing how active your faculty are.
Linking to his faculty profile will satisfy their
- Researchers at other universities and in industry may want to
contact the faculty member to get more information, to suggest a
collaborative project or to hire the faculty member as a
consultant. You may sense a theme here: Link to his faculty
- An alumnus may want to read the cited article because it
provides information useful to his work. If it's available
online, link to the article abstract in Related Links.
No news post will satisfy every need of every conceivable
audience. A news item that says nothing more than “Professor
X has published an article on the inhibition of the activation
pathway of the T-type calcium channel Ca(V)3.1 by ProTxII,”
though, is going to disappoint most of its potential readers.
Keeping these multiple audiences in mind as you create content
is vital to helping your website meet its goals.