Breakout 1B: Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website

Blogger: Brandi Gomez (Pensacola Chapter)

Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website
Presented by: Nicole C. Yucht, Assistant Vice President, UF Communications, University of Florida

In the breakout session Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website, Nicole Yucht shared the knowledge and process of planning and creating the University of Florida’s new and improved website.

The University of West Florida had what was described as a “dated” and “non-user friendly” website used primarily by students and faculty. Realizing the end goal of appealing to prospective students and parents, the University of Florida took to researching and starting the process of launching a new website.

They first identified their end goals. What did they want the main focus of the university website to be about? They decided on the three S’s: Stature, Students, and Support. During the entire planning process, if an aspect or idea did not fit into one of these categories, then it was not going to be included on the site. In the end, everything needed to link back to the mission and goal…To engage prospective students and highlight successes of the university outside of football. Then the fun began….

DISCOVERY –  Researched and spoke to current users to identify issues

  • Talked to intern audience about what they used the site for
  • Spoke to parents, prospective parents, alumni

  • Through study, they found that their site currently focused 75% on internal audiences and 25% on external audiences

STRATEGY – Identifying audiences and focus sectors

  • Had to make sure the content fit the audience

  • Shift in focus: Their new focuses would be 85% external and %15 internal

  • Identified two different audiences: Explorers (prospective undergrads, parents, guidance counselors, and families) and Familiars (current student, faculty, staff, etc.)

CONTENT PLAN – How often content is updated

  • Primary News – updated weekly

  • Secondary News – daily

  • Social – live

As we all know in public relations, results are key…and preferably positive results. When Nicole looked at the analytics of the newly launched site for the University of Florida, she found their usage went down in views by 18 percent. Feeling discouraged, Nicole said she remembered the initial goals she made to shift the focus to more on external audiences like guidance counselors and prospective students and their current analytics did just that. Users of the www.ufl.org were now engaged in content and pages more applicable to their needs. Guidance counselors were able to quick navigate due dates and students were able to easily look at grades and success stories amongst alumni.

Through research, trial and error, and a concrete plan, the University of Florida successfully launched a content-hungry site in August 2014. Since then, they have continued to provide quality images, excellent blogs, and inform all publics.

Takeaways:

  • Know your audience

  • Focus your messaging

  • Stay relevant

  • Live by code orange and blue

  • Be ADA compliant

  • Launch at good (not perfect)

  • Have fun

YuchtNicole C. Yucht joined the University of Florida in 2014 as director of marketing in university relations, and within 14 months was named assistant vice president of UF communications. She is responsible for the institution’s marketing and identity standards, media and public relations, social media, web and campus outreach. Among her major accomplishments was launching the Gator Good branding campaign and overseeing the relaunch of the university’s homepage in November 2015. Yucht has 25 years of experience in marketing and communications, most recently working for Community Health Systems based in Franklin, Tennessee, where she was responsible for the marketing strategy of 14 hospitals in five states. Prior to joining CHS, she was the director of marketing and referral services for UF Health where she helped lead the marketing efforts for the opening of the $388 million Shands Cancer Hospital.

 

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