The basic needs at the bottom of the (website) pyramid.

PyramidCollege. Intro psych class. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Who remembers that?

In Maslow’s hierarchy, often depicted as a pyramid, physiological needs are those required for survival. When physiological needs aren’t met, the human body will fail. Physiological needs are the most important; they are the bottom of the pyramid.

Every day, I talk with clients about some aspect of digital strategy. Every week, I talk with higher ed professionals committed to doing right by their institutions. Every month, I talk with internal stakeholders about what they need from a website. And, on a regular basis, I talk to campus leadership about the nature of a web presence.

A website pyramid?
I think we need a website pyramid. We need a way to talk about minimal requirements. Applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to a website, what are the must haves? What are the foundational elements that need to be in place? What must be present to prevent website failure?

Pay attention to the basics first!
Make the foundational elements the first priority on your campus. This advice is especially important if you currently have an aged, subpar website that you are about to redesign. When you start the redesign, everyone will want to talk about the whiz bang—the cool videos, the wow factor, the bright shiny stuff. But you, oh wise campus web professional, will need to remind them to pay attention to the most basic aspects first.

Can we please talk about this?
Readers, I challenge you to make your own list of five website basics for an educational institution. It would make me very happy to read your own list in the comments below this post. My list follows:

  • Accurate and up-to-date information
  • Clear navigation
  • Compelling photography
  • Consistent design/website header (aka website masthead or website nameplate)
  • A plan for website management

Basic needs met. Get inspired!
Pyramids are architectural masterpieces and the mental image can inspire us as we build incredible websites. Start with a stable structure and then build more. Speaking of inspiration, this post was inspired by a conversation with Voltaire Santos Miran. Thanks for being inspirational, Voltaire.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

One thought on “The basic needs at the bottom of the (website) pyramid.”

  1. 1) Easy to Navigate – for current and future students
    2) Headline photos – websites look great with photos scrolling through at the top
    3) Student Testimonials – Show that students enjoy and recommend the college
    4) Looks more than basic – Students want to see a website that looks more than basic. Like the article says, doesn’t need to be cutting edge, but it does need to look professional and “up to standards”
    5) Play to the Universities strengths – If the University is great at sports, highlight that. A great education school, highlight that. Highlight what makes the university special, and let people know what it is known for.

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