University Business - September 2012 - (Page 90)
The End of Online Writing?
Disruptive forces and their impact on content for the web
By Karine Joly
an you remember the times when PDF files were placed (dumped?) on your website to make their content available online? As you know, those days are gone. PDFpowered websites just don’t cut it anymore—if they ever did. While the file format battle has been won on the web, the content format war is raging in higher education and elsewhere. Are there any people at your institution who still see writing for the web or social media as a copy-and-paste job from your brochures, viewbooks, or other catalogs? Hopefully not. Thanks to the rise of content strategy and the social media revolution in universities and colleges across the country, the one-size-fits-all approach to content for print and digital publications is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Good online content today is not what it used to be 10, five, or even two years ago. At the center of the web experience, online content has been undergoing a profound transformation. And, it’s not over yet, as the following trends and technologies will keep acting as major disruptive forces until the practice of online writing is reshaped. “It’s the ‘AttentIon economy,’ stupId!” Attention is the new currency in the digital world where everybody can be a publisher powered by social media. With so many big and small content publishers, it has become impossible to read, see, or watch all the content—even about a specific niche—made available online or delivered directly to you. It’s not just a product of the ADD epidemic, but the result of the incredible amount of content accessible via a simple
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Good online content today is not what it used to be 10, five, or even two years ago.
click. High school students are literally bombarded with admissions communications and marketing pieces from the colleges on their short-list…and the other institutions trying to get there. This summer, during Teen Talk, a focus-group session presented at Stamats Integrated Marketing Conference in Chicago, most of the 16 participating college-bound seniors confirmed this to the audience of higher education marketing professionals. These students barely had the time to open any of the numerous print or electronic publications they received. With class, sports, extra-curricular activities, test preparation, college search, calls from recruiters or admissions counselors, spending time with family and hanging out with friends, high school seniors have the schedule—and the information diet—of busy executives. According to the 2012 Noel-Levitz “E-Recruiting Practices and Trends at Four-Year and Two-Year Institutions” report, your admissions office might be part of the problem. “A typical prospective
student now receives 18 bulk/blast emails from a four-year private institution, 12 from a four-year public institution,” notes the report of this April 2012 web-based benchmarking survey of 256 colleges and universities. The median number of marketing emails sent to prospective students has almost doubled over the past six years. When they know it can go up to 30 messages for a single institution, no wonder some prospective students just hit “delete” without even opening them. mobIle FIrst And Foremost As I explained in my April 2012 column on the State of the Mobile Web in higher education, the Year of Mobile has finally arrived in higher ed. According to the survey I conducted in February 2012, 59 percent of colleges and universities now have a mobile solution to serve the increasing number of mobile phone owners on their campus and elsewhere. Recent Pew Internet Project research related to mobile technology revealed that 88 percent of American adults have a cell phone and 67 percent of those aged 18 to 24 have a smartphone. Moreover, the current level of cell phone and smartphone sales leaves no doubt that mobile is becoming central to our digital future. In this context, more and more web designers and developers in higher education have logically adopted the “Mobile First” approach popularized by Luke Wroblewski, author of the seminal book about the topic. According to Wroblewski, it makes more sense to design web experiences—and websites— by focusing first and foremost on the needs of mobile users. The homepage redesign of the university of notre dame, launched in April 2012, was built following this
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - September 2012
University Business - September 2012
Behind the News
Virtual Viewbooks: Ready? Or Not?
Technology Changes Everything
Connecting Learners, On Campus and Off
The Changing Face of the CIO
The Administrator's Bookshelf
Oceans of Data
University Business - September 2012