Before beginning you must know who you are writing for and have a clear purpose. Write content to motivate your readers toward an intended behavior. The What and Why of Usability article and Peter Morville illustrate that a successful website will be useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible and credible to its audience.
Writing for your Audience
A common error is to organize the content on your website to mimic the organizational structure of your program. Also, take care to avoid internal language and jargon. Keep in mind other best writing for the Web practices.
Research Your Audience
Public affairs staff throughout the college have access to analytical and statistical data about the visitors to the college websites. Knowing what pages are most popular and how visitors are reaching the content is just one type of research done to gain insight about audience. If you have questions about audience, public affairs staff in your department can help.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project provides reports on international research of internet trends and users that may be relevant.
Once you know your audience you can create a content strategy and define the desired tone and voice for your site. Work with all of the contributors to your site to present consistent content that your visitors will learn to associate with your program. Your strategy can be used in printed communications, social media initiatives and other collateral for your program. Learn Content Strategy Basics from usability.gov.
Market researchers frequently devise a persona to help them better understand their target audience. A persona is a snapshot of a fictionalized person who displays characteristics your visitors are likely to have. The purpose of a persona is to focus decisions with an audience member in mind.
Before you launch do some usability testing to make sure you got it right.