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At a recent meeting, I and a bunch of our decision-makers were trying to make changes to how we use some of our brochures. Costs are rising, both in terms of printing a piece and the cost of postage to distribute them, and budgets are being cut back, so it was time to take that hard look.

And I finally heard one of the sentences I’ve been waiting for out of our Executive Director’s mouth:

People are looking for this information online.”

. . .

Thank you. And darn right they are.

Even putting aside the fact that we created this piece because the colleges stopped printing their own pieces with similar information, there’s the doubles and triples that students get of the same brochure, not knowing it’s in their folder already or that there’s one in the mail to them, etc.

And besides which, they’re getting the information the way they want to already. The related pages in question on our site are our most popular pages. We know people are accessing this information there. Even our Knowledge Base entries show it’s the most popular question people have in mind when they get to our site.

So I presented a mock-up of a new landing page for the subject in question. I poured all the information we had about the subject onto a page and then faithfully trimmed it by half.  I did not go the half again that Steve Krug recommends because–frankly–this was just a mock-up. I didn’t have the go-ahead to spend more time on it, really.

And the first response? “Awfully cluttered,” and “wordy,” to quote the two folks in question. Absolutely right, and I’ll admit it. I could certainly spend more time and cut it back more.

And thank you for recognizing what people want on the web: clarity and simplicity.

Be succinct. That’s my best web writing tip.

This is, however, super difficult to do when you’re dealing with a multi-campus system that’s truly (more or less) integrated in terms of curriculum and admissions. With 12 academic colleges at this campus and another 6 throughout the rest of the other 19 campuses scattered across the commonwealth. And especially when multiple campuses offer majors that have the same name, but are different programs with different curricula and options.

Not an easy task. But one I have to tackle.

But tomorrow. I almost missed today’s post-per-day due to midnight hitting, and that just won’t do, now will it?


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