WordPress has been mentioned several times on this blog. As a blogging platform, WordPress offers terrific functionality, ease of use, search engine optimization, accessibility, and it is free. The dot org version of WordPress is the self-hosted variety of the popular WordPress.com. Whenever I surf through a student affairs division’s website, I always think about how useful it would be if instead of a static site (content that rarely changes), we switched to a dynamic, content-rich, blog-based site.
Think of it this way: a member of your community (student, staff, faculty, parent, family member, etc.) surfs to your website and finds a blog instead of a mission statement (or something just as exciting). While mission statements and other introductory materials do provide necessary context, a blog provides an opportunity for a content conversation. Users now have a reason to come back to your site...especially if your division's homepage is a blog. Logistical pages can still exist in this model. However, the focus is now on providing compelling content that engages your community.
If your institution uses a CMS, ask if it has blogging capabilities. If your CMS can’t “blog,” then I would suggest asking your IT folk if they can install a dot org version of WordPress in your web directory. Be prepared for conversations about security concerns and update requirements. That’s okay, your IT staff is doing their job by asking tough questions. It’s your job to make sure that your community is provided the opportunity to have access to frequently updated content. There’s always a balance.
And, if you’re worried about content creation, in my experience, there are a lot of stories that can be shared via a blog. Work with your staff to create a communications team and empower your students to create content for the site. A blog (and in my opinion, one that is WordPress-based) should be the foundation/home of your communications strategy. It’s a simple way to radically alter the way that you provide content for your community.
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