We’re baaack…to school. While everyone on campus “moves in,” my annual tradition is to write a post with website advice. For the 2019-2020 academic year, we’re going back to basics.

Say a lot with fewer words.

Why? Because at every student focus group on every campus I’ve ever visited, the most common answer to, “What do you think of the website?” is, “There’s too much text.”

Don’t avoid doing the hard word of cutting back on words by asking me how many words to use per page. Be guided by your professional judgement and what you know about your audiences. (BTW, for SEO the recommended length is generally 250-300 words.) Regardless, I’m not worried that following my advice will make your web pages too short. Cut it down, cut it way down.

Three ways to make web pages shorter.

  • Before you write, back away from your laptop.
    First, determine the main idea/purpose of the page. Then, as you write, stick to it. Use only the words needed to support that idea/purpose. (Sounds simple but it requires writing and rewriting.)
  • Use microcontent.
    You can say a lot with the right photo and just 25 words.

Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 5.23.12 PM

  • Write like a human, not like a bureaucrat.
    Instead of 62 words:

Sometimes when a current undergraduate student is considering the choice of a major (or seriously contemplating a future change of major), expert help from a professional academic advisor at Put Your Name Here College might well be an idea worth ultimately pursuing. Should you find yourself in need of an advising appointment, please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.

Use 18:

Choosing or changing a major isn’t easy. The Office of Academic Advising can help. Register for an appointment. 

Be inspired! The Gettysburg Address was 272 words long.

Sure, you need a web content strategy — a comprehensive plan for creating and maintaining the words (and everything else) on the website. But right now, you’re trying to keep your head above water as students and faculty to return campus. So my advice is simple: Be brief.

For later, more on web content strategy.

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