As the primary public-facing communications and marketing tool for the university, the website must achieve a strategic, cohesive representation of WSU’s goals and brand. This guide focuses on creating effective written content, including style, formatting, tone and messaging for the university’s main website. 

For questions about this manual, please contact Strategic Communications at 316-978-3045.

All about goals

Content rarely has a singular goal. Most online content has a number of needs and audiences to balance. Here are some of the most important goals you’ll want to consider:

User needs

  • What do people who visit this page want to know? What questions do they have?
  • What did they come to our site to do? Is there a task they’re trying to complete?
  • How should you balance/prioritize multiple audiences and varying goals?

Organizational factors

  • What does the university or your department/unit need users of this page to do?
  • What sets your university/department apart from the competition?
  • How does this piece of content fit in with the rest of your messaging?
  • How will you evaluate the effectiveness of this content?

Site priorities

Where are we in the user path through the site? What’s next?

Brand standards

Are you making sure to keep brand tone/messaging style in mind?

Search engine standards

  • Should this page be optimized for certain search keywords?
  • What metadata text will encourage users to click?

Design requirements

  • Does this page need photos? What kind, size and dimensions?
  • Are there graphic elements like callout boxes or pull quotes this layout could use?

Functional specifications

  • Maximum/minimum word counts for structured content blocks
  • Relationships between content types in the CMS (from simply linking to pages to complex tagging that drives functionality)

Think of your user’s goals as the focus driving any specific piece of content, with organizational goals, site structure, branding, competition and other factors as context framing and informing the process. What you say and do should be rooted in user needs, but how you say and do it is shaped by the other factors.

Also, keep in mind that one of the benefits of writing in the digital space is that unlike in traditional media, you can see what’s working and what isn’t and adjust accordingly. If your content isn’t driving the desired user action (or getting the desired user feedback), rethink it and update it.