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Content Is King

The content phase of the university’s Refresh project began in earnest in late March with a production schedule slated through June. The primary directive of the content development period was to build on the solid work from the research and information architecture stages of the project.

The core Refresh content team from the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) and Information Technology Services (ITS) assembled 10 content working groups – of more than 30 university community members – that met regularly during this period. All told, we held more than 20 meetings to determine the direction of content for the university’s new Web Central site.

The goal of the content working groups was to create two products for each of the site’s core pages to pass along to the content management system/Drupal implementation team: 1) a content outline for each of the mission-based navigation pages, the audience-based navigation pages and the utilities pages and 2) a page layout wireframe sketch for the same sets of pages.

In addition to producing these two artifacts for each core page, the content working groups were tasked with identifying an initial content provider, a content owner(s) and a business owner for each page.

As the core Refresh content team defined these roles, the business owners are the stewards of the core pages – for the life of the pages – providing guidance and review/approval of the overall messages and content created for the pages. The content owners will be the active caretakers of the pages: identifying new content, making the content updates in Drupal and working with other content providers across campus to ensure the pages represent initiatives across the university.

The concept of identifying a business owner and a content owner for each core page is a critical step in ensuring the content on the pages meets the quality standards set forth in the Refresh project goals.

As defined by the recommendations of the research and information architecture working groups, the five mission-based core pages are:

  • About UT
  • Academics
  • Campus Life
  • Community Engagement
  • Research

These five pages will support an interior navigation of sub-pages. The narrative-style content will reflect the university’s excellence in these areas.

The only narrative content that exists on the core pages of the existing Web Central site is for the Research page, so developing new content narratives about the university’s bragging rights on the other four mission-based pages will be a powerful and compelling addition to the university’s Web site.

The four audience-based core pages are:

  • Students
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Alumni & Friends

These four pages will be portal-type pages to provide quick access to get daily tasks done.

The content will focus primarily on task-based link sections, but will also have a narrative element in the form of feature stories. As evidenced in the research and information architecture phases of the Refresh project, the university’s core Web audiences want quick and easy access to the daily tasks they need to perform on the Web, and these four portal pages will support that.

The six utilities pages are:

  • Colleges and Schools
  • Maps
  • Directory
  • Calendars
  • Offices
  • Contact

Including the utilities pages, about 40 pages total will round out the core site for our Refresh debut.

To help with the transition from the content working group phase to the Drupal implementation phase, the core Refresh team also defined a suite of “content widgets” to support the variety of content needs that were identified by the content working groups. These “content widgets” include:

  • A rotating feature marquee
  • Modules for combinations of text, thumbnail photos and hyperlinks
  • RSS feed consumption for blogs, news and Twitter
  • Promotional graphics/icons

The content outlines and wireframes are now finalized, and through the month of July the business and content owners for each of the core pages will work on developing any new content as defined in the content outlines.

That content will be delivered by August and poured into the Drupal system by the core Refresh team.

Once the content has been poured, the business and content owners will have another opportunity to review the core pages before the debut of the new Web Central site.

Once the new site is released in late fall, ITS will offer Drupal training for the content owners of the core pages, and they will then officially become the caretakers of the core pages of the university’s new Web Central site.



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