Content Strategy


Knowing where to get started with a web page can be difficult, but we’re here to help.

Our Strategy

We follow principles of evidence-driven design and industry standards for best practices.


1. Students First

We're here to serve students. Our goal is for our website to help our diverse students and their families find the information they need.

What info do students need?

2. Writing Content

Before building a page, we determine what students need to know. We create an outline and write content to meet their needs.

How do I write for web?

3. Design & Development

After we have our content prepared, we begin building the webpage and putting together our visual design.

What can a page look like?

4. Reviewing & Editing

Once we have a page laid out, we run it by others to ensure it makes sense, meets our editorial standards and fits our branding.

Who should review a page?

5. Publishing to the Web

When we're confident our page meets our students' needs, we publish the page to the Internet and make it public.

When should a page go live?

6. Maintenance

We don't "set and forget." Needs change and so does what we offer. We regularly check content and revise for accuracy.

When should a page be re-checked?

1. Students First

What info do students need?

There are three ways to know what info students need:

  1. Think about the program or service you’re offering. Ask yourself:
    1. How would you explain the program or service? At its core, what is it?
    2. Why should a student take part?
    3. What are the benefits? Are there risks?
    4. What do they need to know to sign up?
    5. What questions might they have about the program or service?
  2. Ask a coworker the same questions you asked yourself.
  3. Ask a student—or ten! Our students are smart, talented individuals. Ask them what they wish they would have known before they enrolled in your program. Ask what they’re still confused about. Students will tell you what they need. It’s then your responsibility to locate or create content to meet those needs.

2. Writing Content

How do I write content for the web?

Writing for the web can be very different from writing for other platforms. Just as legal briefs and academic papers require a certain kind of language, the web has its own style. The following tips and tricks come from years of user research and paying attention to how people navigate the Internet. If you don’t feel comfortable writing your material, reach out to the web team. We have dedicated staff on hand to develop content.


General Tips & Tricks

Be short, sweet and to the point.

  • Put the most important information at the beginning.
  • Limit sentences to 20 words or fewer.
  • Limit paragraphs to 5 sentences or fewer.
  • Cut out any unnecessary words.

Use simple language.

  • Write for an 8th grade reading level (or lower).
  • Avoid big words that are hard to understand.
  • Use the same words your readers use.
    • Example: Say “cellphone,” not “digital calling device.”
  • Write in an active voice.
    • Example: “Swoop gave the student a high-five” not “the student was given a high-five by Swoop.”

Don’t be redundant.

  • Rather than copying and pasting the same information across several pages, link to the original source instead.
    • Examples: Course requirements listed in the catalog, steps for applying to Eastern, and general scholarship application information.

Format content so that it can be scanned easily.

  • Organize your content according to subject matter.
  • Break up content using headings and subheadings.
  • Use bullet points or numbers for lists.

Follow EWU Editorial Standards.

  • Use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Tips for Specific Types of Writing

Biographies

  • Include research interests, relevant publications or teaching experience.
  • List degrees and subject areas.
    • Example: “BS, Biology, Eastern Washington University”
    • Not: “BS, Eastern Washington University” or “BS”
  • Be human. It’s okay to write in first person if each of the bios on the page are in first person.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Be clear. Keep answers as simple as possible.
  • If it’s a yes-or-no question, state “yes” or “no” explicitly in the answer.
  • Ask your department’s secretary or contact person which questions they get the most emails or calls about.
  • Consider using bullet points or an accordion component.

Legal Information

  • Use wording approved by your accrediting agency when discussing accreditation.
  • Do not modify the language used in official policies, procedures, or other legal statements.

Departmental Eastern Stories

  • Use brief, descriptive titles.
  • Share the most important details first.
  • Include relevant facts and names.
  • Write in third person.
  • Consider using photographs to enhance your storytelling.

Instructions

  • Be direct.
  • Begin each step with a commanding verb.
    • Examples: “Click _______,” or “Call _____ at _____.”
  • Use pronouns such as “you” and “your.”
    • Example: Sign in with your NetID.
    • Not: The student should sign in with his or her NetID.
  • Link to appropriate forms if necessary.
  • Avoid describing more than one action in one single step.

3. Design & Development

What can a page look like?

Our flexible platform allows us to choose from a variety of components and page layouts. We have pre-set tools for sharing catalog information, building accordion layouts, embedding video and more. Don’t see what you want on the components page or the inline styles page? Let us know! We’re always looking to improve the website and tell our story the best way we can.

Request a Website Feature

4. Reviewing & Editing

Who should review a page?

Before a new page is published for the first time, there are a handful of people who should look over it. Having a few people review the page will prevent errors and help us make sure the page is easy to navigate and understand.


Your Team

If possible, have a supervisor or coworker fact-check your content.

  • Are you listing everything that needs to be there?
  • Are the programs, courses or services offered the way they’re described?
  • Are phone numbers and office locations correct?

Where appropriate, have a student read the content.

  • Does it make sense?
  • Is anything confusing? If so, what?
  • What questions does the student have after reading it?

Our Team

Our content folks will review your page to make sure it:

  • Meets our web writing standards
  • Aligns with our content strategy
  • Is free of spelling, grammar or stylistic errors
  • Aligns with other information on the site
  • Contains appropriate photos and/or videos
  • Meets usability and accessibility standards
  • Meets university branding standards

Request Content Review

5. Publishing to the Web

When should a page go live?

  • When we are as sure as we can be that content is accurate.
  • When the page is complete:
    • We do not leave blank portions of the page, or headers with nothing below them.
    • We do not create empty placeholder pages that say “web page under construction” or anything along those lines.
  • When the content is relevant to students; if there isn’t anything on the page that would matter yet to a student, we hold off.

6. Maintenance

When should a page be re-checked?

Pages should be manually re-checked at least once a quarter. This includes all types of pages: contact pages, degree pages, department pages, etc. Changes happen all the time. We’re responsible for making sure the website reflects those changes. It can be easy to forget exactly what a webpage contains, so re-reading it frequently will prevent stale content from sticking around longer than it needs to. See something that needs to be fixed? Let us know, or make the changes yourself if you have access.


Automatic Checks

We use software to track the website very carefully. We’re notified of many issues, including:

  • Misspellings
  • Broken links
  • Accessibility violations
  • Poor image quality

When we’re alerted of issues like this, we’ll fix them. We will reach out to you as needed to make sure that our fixes are accurate.

Our Edits

In addition to automatic checks, our team routinely edits pages to reflect overall university changes. For example, if we know that a step in the general scholarship application process is changing, we will run a mass check of the site to make sure that all mentions of the general scholarship application process are still accurate. If we find inaccuracies in your pages, we will let you know and fix them. We also check pages frequently to make sure that our branding and overall standards are still met long after the page is initially published.