SIAT Content Guide

Website Content Strategy

This document defines the objectives, audiences and writing strategies for the different sections of the SIAT website. This is intended to help improve future rewriting of content and improvements in structure.

This document moves from macro (big, overarching) objectives of the website, to more micro (specific, detailed) strategies for writing content tailored to specific audiences. As a result, any more 'overarching' objectives or strategies should still be taken into consideration when writing for specific audiences.

Available in this section:

What is a content strategy?

A content strategy — as described by Halvorson and Rach (Content Strategy for the Web, 2012) — does the following:

  1. Defines how you're going to use content to meet your user's needs.
  2. Guides decisions about content, from creation to deletion.
  3. Sets goals against which to measure the success of our content.

At its core, we want to ensure we can define what our content will be, and how it will be structured. As part of this, we should consider:

Website objectives

These define what the substancesee What is a Content Strategy? — of our content should be for all of our audiences.

  1. To assist in information seeking (Search): Our audiences are coming to find out information about our program, ensure the website helps to serve the information they need as effectively as possible, from however they choose to access it; social media, search engines, direct entrance, etc.
  2. To enable audiences to mobilize their new knowledge (Act): Presuming our audiences are coming to find information, we want to also help direct them on how to act on the new knowledge (as appropriate). Give clear, concise directions.
  3. To invite and offer clear avenues of engagement with the department (Interact): To help promote what we do to media and to help invite new community/industry partnerships, the website should provide clear, current, and actionable invitations for engagement.
  4. To attract audiences to engage with us (Attract): Through our clear avenues for engagement (#3), attract new students, collaborators, industry, community, and funders to begin new relationships with SIAT faculty, staff, and students.
  5. To support accessibility (Enable): Make sure those developing or generating content understand web accessibility concerns and how to develop content that supports accessibility. Our website should be available to all, especially in the case of any rich media use.

Over-arching Content Strategies

These should help define strategies for generating content that is not audience-specific and begin to define the structuresee What is a Content Strategy? — of our content. Consider the below as good general strategies that should be followed when developing content; textual, visual, or otherwise.

  1. Content must be device agnostic: Modern devices keep growing in number and variety. Support this flexibility of access through contemporary approaches (i.e. mobile-friendly, modern web standards) in the structure of content, responsive rich-media, and avoiding download-only content.
  2. Keep things concise.
  3. Aim for rich media content: We are a visually-vibrant school. Our content should meaningfully make use of visuals and rich media (i.e. video/audio/interaction/etc.) to help support our text content, while still ensuring accessibility — see #5 of website objectives.
  4. Direct to centralized resources whenever possible: There is no point in duplicating efforts or causing potential further confusion for our audiences.
  5. Links must explain where they go: No visit here links allowed, all links should suggest in the text of the link what action they perform/where they go. For example: "We recommend booking a tour of the SFU Surrey campus to get a sense of what you would be signing up for."
  6. Ensure sustainability: When envisioning new website goals or content, ensure that what is being proposed can be maintained and supported given the current departmental resources, knowledge set, and capabilities.
  7. Keep content platform-appropriate: Social media content and website content (usually) serve different purposes. Make sure to keep content that is intended for one platform from appearing on the other (unless appropriate).

Audience-specific strategies

The next series of sections define considerations specific to each audience. This includes:

Anyone who writes content for the website should have access to the considerations specific to their audience(s). Our audiences:

Prospective undergraduate students, parents of, and counselors

Goals, strategies, and stakeholders to consult when writing content for prospective undergraduate (UG) students, the parents of prospective UG students, and high school counselors.

Likely goals of prospective undergraduate students, parents of, and counselors

  1. Understand what SIAT is, and if they are interested in it.
  2. To see the admission requirements for SIAT, and what they will need to enroll.
  3. To determine where SIAT can lead after school, in jobs or otherwise.
  4. Find out what the student experience is like, from other students.
  5. To get more assistance or advice on SIAT; who to contact, how to find out more?

Content strategies for prospective undergraduate students, parents of, and counselors

  1. Only talk to things prospective students understand: Explain what we do/teach, but without the 'extras' that the audience doesn't necessarily know about a domain or area of expertise. For example: building an app requires 'understandable' programming/design, but less 'understandable' research, usability testing, UX, etc. These are things they will learn in the program.
  2. Define any 'fancy' terms: 'Interdisciplinary' is not something a prospective student is likely to understand. If it is necessary to use a complex term (see point #1) provide a definition for a lay audience.
  3. Ensure a grade 11 readability level: While not perfect metrics, tests such as the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test give us a loose metric around the difficulty for approaching our content (given the audience). Use tools or peers to help assess where there may be concerns in the understandability of content.
  4. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific jargon or acronyms: They may know it, they may not. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific terms or language – i.e. 'cross-functional teams,' 'Solid Space,' 'APR' – and if necessary, make sure that these terms are defined (see point #2).
  5. Invite and motivate participation if appropriate: Invite the audience to engage with our program by providing clear routes for participation and connection with our staff/events/faculty if the audience member's attendance may help them learn if SIAT is where they would like to go (or not).

Consult when revising content for prospective undergraduate students, parents of, and counselors

  • Advising: For knowledge of UG program and recruitment approaches.
  • UG Students: Important perspective but may have too much in-program experience to see issues with language for prospective students.
  • UCC: Given involvement in ensuring the quality of our undergraduate curriculum, it is a good idea to consult them as appropriate on curricular-related web content.

Current undergraduate students

Goals, strategies, and stakeholders to consult when writing content for current UG students.

Likely goals of current undergraduate students

  1. Determine which courses they want to enroll in (next semester + future).
  2. See what the pre-requisites for courses are that they want to enroll in.
  3. Figure out how to transfer into SIAT, enroll in Minor (if non-major).
  4. To get more assistance or advice on SIAT; who to contact, how to find out more?

Content strategies for current undergraduate students

  1. Define any ‘fancy’ terms: 'Interdisciplinary' is not something a prospective student is likely to understand. If it is necessary to use a complex term (see point #1) provide a definition for a lay audience.
  2. Ensure a grade 11 readability level: While not perfect metrics, tests such as the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test give us a loose metric around the difficulty for approaching our content (given the audience). Use tools or peers to help assess where there may be concerns in the understandability of content.
  3. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific jargon or acronyms: They may know it, they may not. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific terms or language – i.e. ‘cross-functional teams,’ ‘Solid Space,’ ‘APR’ – and if necessary, make sure that these terms are defined (see point #2).
  4. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific jargon or acronyms: They may know it, they may not. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific terms or language – i.e. 'cross-functional teams,' 'Solid Space,' 'APR' – and if necessary, make sure that these terms are defined (see point #2).
  5. Invite and motivate participation if appropriate: Invite the audience to engage with our program by providing clear routes for participation and connection with our staff/events/faculty if the audience member's attendance may help them learn if SIAT is where they would like to go (or not).

Consult when revising content for current undergraduate students

  • Advising: For knowledge of UG program and recruitment approaches.
  • UG Students: Important perspective but may have too much in-program experience to see issues with language for newer students.
  • UCC: Given involvement in ensuring the quality of our undergraduate curriculum, it is a good idea to consult them as appropriate on curricular-related web content.

Graduate students (prospective and current)

Goals, strategies, and stakeholders to consult when writing content for prospective or current graduate students.

Likely goals of graduate students

  1. Understand what SIAT is, and if they are interested in it.
  2. To see the admission requirements for SIAT, and what they will need to enroll.
  3. To see which faculty they may be interested or able to work with, and how to contact them.
  4. Determine what courses they may want to enroll in, and what degree requirement are.
  5. To get more assistance or advice on SIAT; who to contact, how to find out more?

Content strategies for current undergrad students

  1. Use language appropriate to our respective disciplines or domains: Avoid making new terminology unless necessary, and if so, define the new terminology clearly. Working with existing terminology common to our specific disciplines helps students orient themselves within and across disciplines.
  2. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific jargon or acronyms: They may know it, they may not. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific terms or language – i.e. ‘cross-functional teams,’ ‘Solid Space,’ ‘Out-of-cycle admission’ – and if necessary, make sure that these terms are defined (see point #2).

Consult when revising content for current undergrad students

  • GPC: Given involvement in ensuring the quality of our graduate curriculum, it is a good idea to consult them as appropriate on curricular-related web content.
  • GAC: Particularly if dealing with content tailored for prospective grad students, involving the Graduate Admissions Committee is required.
  • Graduate Students: Important perspective but may have too much in-program experience to see issues with language for prospective students.
  • Office of Graduate Studies: If dealing with content that is introducing new policies, it may be worthwhile consulting to ensure language is appropriate (assuming content is not already housed on the Grad Studies website, in which case it should just be linked to).

Collaborators

Goals, strategies, and stakeholders to consult when writing content for collaborators, including industry or community partners, and faculty from other disciplines.

Likely goals of collaborators

  1. To find out what our program can offer them (be it classes, instructors, etc).
  2. To determine how our program can collaborate.
  3. Identify who to contact to follow-up about collaboration options.

Content strategies for collaborators

  1. Invite and motivate participation: Invite the audience to engage again with our program by providing clear routes for participation and connection with our faculty/staff/students/awards/etc. as they would prefer.
  2. Keep content current: Need to ensure there is current and relevant content to help entice this audience to view and engage it.
  3. Be clear about our structure/who we are: Potential industry/community partners will have a widely variable understanding of SIAT. Make sure to be clear about our structure and defining SIAT to ensure there is a clear understanding of what we can offer and do.
  4. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific jargon or acronyms: They may know it, they may not. Avoid SIAT/SFU-specific terms or language – i.e. ‘cross-functional teams’ – and if necessary, make sure that these terms are defined (see point #2).

Consult when revising content for collaborators

  • Donor relations, Advancement, Co-op/WIL: Most often have the most regular connections with industry/community partners and may have good insight as a result.
  • Faculty: Often have connections of their own, and maybe able to provide routes for connecting in the classroom.

Alumni

Goals, strategies, and stakeholders to consult when writing content for SIAT Undergraduate or Graduate alumni.

Likely goals of alumni

  1. To find contact information for former instructors.
  2. To see how they can collaborate with or give back to the department.

Content strategies for alumni

  1. Help convey “What’s New?”: Alumni have been separated from the program for a range of time and will likely not be aware of what has changed since they have left. Help them reconnect with what drew them into/through the program in the first place by bridging the years they were away.
  2. Invite and motivate participation: Invite the audience to engage again with our program by providing clear routes for participation and reconnecting with faculty/staff/students as they might like.

Consult when revising content for alumni

  • Alumni Relations: Can provide support and the means of connecting with our existing alumni (if not otherwise connected through faculty/staff/social media/etc).
  • Alumni: Can help us understand what keeps them connected, or helps them reconnect with SIAT (if interested).

Media and External Affairs

Goals, strategies, and stakeholders to consult when writing content for the media, external affairs, or fellow faculty and researchers at other institutions.

Likely goals of media and external affairs

  1. To find contact information for specialists in the domain they are writing on.
  2. To find out further details about the event or individual they are covering.

Content strategies for media and external affairs

  1. Offer media-kits or press-releases as appropriate: Making the life of the audience easier by preparing an initial overview of the event or otherwise and providing rich media can only serve to benefit their interest in the content.
  2. Provide clear means to follow-up with the department: Provide a clear means of connecting with the department if the audience would like to follow-up. Ensure the means of connecting will garner a response within 24 hours.
  3. Keep content current: Need to ensure there is current and relevant content to help entice this audience to view and engage it.

Consult when revising content for media and external affairs

  • External Affairs: To help clarify what/how best to serve the content to the media/themselves.
  • Faculty: To understand how the given content may be in/effectively representing the department.

Staff and Faculty

Goals, strategies, and stakeholders to consult when writing content for SIAT staff and faculty.

Likely goals of staff and faculty

  1. To find the material they need efficiently.
  2. To ensure that the material they have found is up-to-date.

Content strategies for staff and faculty

  1. Make sure it is not just a list of links: While staff/faculty may be more aware of what they are looking for, still provide a clear hierarchy and description of the contents of each link to help expedite locating the required resources.
  2. Indicate the ‘currency’ of files: Within the structure of the content, ensure there is a clear and consistent space that denotes when the resource was last updated. This will help to note which resources may be out-of-date with current department standards.

Consult when revising content for staff and faculty

  • Staff/Faculty: To ensure that the content is serving their needs as effectively as possible.
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