Web Content Manger, Lewis University

Ok, it’s time to re-design one of your department sites. So, what does that mean? It means you have a great opportunity to start killing some unnecessary pages. “Wait…no. We actually have more things we want to add to the site. That’s why we want to do the re-design.”

That’s ok. You can add content if you must. But, a major re-design goal – aside from inspiring the prospect (with brand-relevant differentiations) and inciting action (lead generation) – should be to cut down on your total number of pages.

Yes, it’s a completely arbitrary goal. I don’t know if you’re working with 10 pages or 100. And I don’t care. In fact, I’ll make it even easier for you.

You should have 1 ultra-compelling page per degree program. And here’s why.

1) It simplifies navigation for your visitors.

Right now, in order for your visitors to learn about a specific degree offering, they miraculously figure out how to navigate to your program page. And then, everything’s there, right? No, there’s an “FAQ”. A “Careers” page. A “Faculty” page. “Degree Requirements”. “Courses”. “Highlights”. “Clubs and Student Organizations”. “Internships.” “Facilities”. All for a single degree program. And in order for your visitor to see all of this program-relevant information, they have to click through 9 different pages? Why make them do this? Especially when most of these pages contain redundant copy that could easily move up
one level in your hierarchy to department-level information.

2) You need to filter yourself.
It’s tempting to think that by putting answers to every conceivable question on your site, it will prevent students from having any. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. People are impatient, and if they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they give up trying. So, use the 80/20 rule to your advantage. Focus on the 20% of your content that answers 80% of your prospect’s questions, and you will be forced to
start asking yourself, “Is this important enough to be on here?” And even if you can’t manage to delete a single word from your current pages, as long as you’re prioritizing your content by importance from top- to-bottom on your new single page, it’s not the end of the world. Because…

3) Google rewards depth of content.

With the latest few rounds of Google Panda updates, we’re seeing that Google is valuing content (length) more than ever before. A single, dynamic program page not only simplifies the user experience, but also funnels any SEO juice into a single, rich, content-filled, key phrase optimized page. And here’s the most important part…

4) It’s way easier to maintain a smaller site.
Has your Web team ever received a call from a department complaining that one of their pages has expired information on it? Guess why? Because your Web department isn’t looking at all 2,000 pages on your site every day. And no, moving to a single page per program isn’t going to alleviate that problem. But, it will create a much more manageable system that allows each department to become more aware (responsible) for their own content.

You know how freeing it is for people on those “hoarding” reality shows when they start throwing away their junk? It’s time to join them.

Eric Olsen is the Web Content Manger for Lewis University, a mid-sized Catholic and Lasallian University near Chicago, IL.

Follow Eric on Twitter.


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  • George Sackett

    Hurrah! Could not agree more.

    We are planning a redesign and the first step is to look at the logs and see what pages are never visited and then kill them. It is ever so hard to fight “page creep”. Our current site started with 1200 pages (I know that is a lot to begin with) and now we are up over 4000 – and getting criticized for not having this or that up there.

    With that many pages, I bet we can find 2000 pages that have not received more than 12 visits in the last year!

    • Eric Olsen

      If it’s too hard (politically) to chop the irrelevant, aggregating on a single page with top-to-bottom information prioritization should be the goal. So, “less information” is not necessarily a requirement to simplify navigation, but an important goal. Great catch on the “less” – “fewer” mistake.

      What’s that saying about every writer needs an editor?

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