Carnegie Mellon University


A service provided by the University CMS Team

Plan Your Website

Review other CMU sites for duplication

The university's web presence extends across hundreds of websites, representing departments, offices and disciplines. As a result, there are many websites that overlap in both focus and content.

Before you start working on a new website or new web page, do a search to make sure there isn't already a website or page built around your topic or concentration. If there is, consider linking to them instead of creating a new page. This will help reduce duplicate information and make it easier for the university's web visitors to find exactly what they are looking for. It also lends more credibility to one source when that source of information is not competing with other internal sources.

What's more, search engines, such as Google, scan websites looking for keywords and content. If there are too many pages with the same keywords or duplicate content, search engines have a harder time identifying the correct page to link to. That's why it's important to give attribution to the original source via a link to them.

Consider long-term maintenance

Remember, building a website is not a one-and-done endeavor. Most websites require continual maintenance to stay relevant, informative, useful and engaging for visitors.

Though you may have time to build a website now, make sure there is a plan in place for continual website updates in the future. This usually means having someone on staff available, and that someone may be you.

Put yourself in your audiences' shoes

When developing content for your website, you must first determine who your website visitors will be. Is your website being used to attract prospective students? Or is it being used to provide information and updates for current students, faculty and staff?

Chances are, your website will serve several audiences. For this reason, it's important to think through how you will communicate with each, as each audience has different expectations for what your website will provide and what information they will be looking for.

A useful marketing technique is to build a general profile, or persona, of who an average user might be for each audience, including demographic and behavioral characteristics.

Set your website's objectives and goals

Determining who will be coming to your website and why will help you take a step back and determine what the goals of your website should be. Before writing your content, you should be able to answer "what is the purpose of the website?"

Answers that are concise and straightforward are usually key. For example, "provide information about our program," or "attract more students to events," or "provide an easy way to communicate with the public." For further assessment, consider the following questions:

  • Why is the website needed?
  • What do I want my visitors to take away?
  • What are the concrete objectives that I would like to accomplish? For example:
    • Broaden your audience
    • Register for events
    • Attract students
    • Post time-sensitive announcements
    • Offer easily accessible instructional material

Identify goals for your website! It will help you to get started in the right direction and better prepare you for organizing your content.