Letting go is never easy

One of our goals in transitioning to our new website is to make Hope’s website smaller. There was too much information on our old site, and that just makes it harder for our users to find what they’re looking for. It’s time to slim down.

But that isn’t always easy to do. We’ve gotten used to doing something just because that’s the way we’ve always done it. We’re attached to it. We disagree about what’s actually important to our audiences.

Here are a few questions to help assess your content:

1. Does my audience actually need this information?

Sometimes we put content on our website because it’s important to us, not because it’s important to our user. If it doesn’t answer a question your audience is actually asking or provide information that’s truly valuable to them, then it shouldn’t go on the website. And remember: You are not your target audience.

2. Does this information already exist elsewhere?

We shouldn’t duplicate content. If a user can access the information somewhere else — the registrar’s or provost’s offices, for example, or the online catalog or event calendar — then we should simply provide easy access to that content. Link to it in a way that makes sense to your user.

3. Does this information really belong somewhere else?

Maybe the content is important to your audience, but it really belongs somewhere else. Sure, that syllabus is critical for the 18 people enrolled in your course this semester — but our public-facing website probably isn’t the best place to put it. (That’s what Moodle is for.) Figure out where it belongs, and let’s make sure it goes there.

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