Before eTech will open up a beta site — the non-live, under-construction website in which you or we will build your site’s pages — you must provide some basic content. This ensures that you’ll have something launchable at the end of the six-week production period even if you aren’t able to produce in six weeks all of the content you’d like your site to have.
Naturally, that minimum required information varies depending on the site’s purpose. Read on to find out what’s necessary for the type of website you’re planning.
The College’s content requirements for its 22 degree-granting departments are complex enough to earn their own page on this website. Read “Web Content Requirements & Recommendations” for details.
Assembling a website for a major, minor, or concentration can be surprisingly time-consuming, but we usually hear from sponsoring faculty that the site absolutely must be available to students as soon as possible.
To help that happen, we offer this list of the bare-minimum content the site must have to be useful to students. You must provide this information before we will create a beta (sandbox) site:
- General information that answers the most basic questions about the program (e.g., “What is this about?”)
- Contact information
- List of the program director/s and advisor/s (can be combined with the contact information)
- A list of faculty/staff involved with the program
- Links to relevant catalog pages (if these exist)
Center, Institute, Research Group, Support Board, Publication, Facility, or Lab
The content needs for non-department entities vary depending on the unit, purpose, and audience. Nevertheless, there are several pieces of information just about every website needs. This is the content we must have from you before we will create a beta (sandbox) site:
- General information that answers the most basic questions about the entity (e.g., “What is this? What research does this center/institute/lab do? What does this board support?”)
- Contact information appropriate to the entity. For a center, this might include contact info for faculty members; for a support board, contact info for department or Dean’s Office personnel; for a publication, info about submitting or subscribing.
- Clear identification of the key personnel, such as directors, advisors, managers, editors, etc.
Museum, Gallery, or Other Open-to-the-Public Venue
This is the content we must have from you before we will create a beta (sandbox) site:
- General information that answers the most basic questions about the entity (e.g., “What is this place? What goes on here? What groups does it serve?”)
- Contact information
- Address and directions (and, ideally, a photo of the building to help users find you)
- Hours of operation
- Clear identification of the director/s and staff
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I want to include more content?
Have at it. The information listed above is just the bare minimum we need to have before we’ll open up a beta site. What you add after that is up to you (within reason).
Why are you requiring content up front? I thought the point of a beta site was to build the site from nothing.
What we’ve done here is boil down a website’s content to just the bare minimum necessary for the site to be useful. You’ll want to add more, but with this basic information you’ll have something launchable, even if it’s not the richly informative website of your dreams.
What if I don’t want to launch the site with just this minimum content?
Please keep in mind that unless you give out the URL, nobody will know your bare-bones site exists. The basic content we recommend gives anyone who does somehow stumble across your newborn site enough detail to determine whether what you’re offering is something they want, along with contact information if they want to know more. That’s better than nothing.
If you can’t continue work on the site for the foreseeable future and can’t bear the thought of launching with just the required info, we’ll shut down the beta site and you can complete our Website Project Request Form when you’re ready to start over.
Should I put up an “under construction” page?
No. Users find “Under Construction” and “Coming Soon” pages frustrating, even annoying. Worse, those pages create a false sense of satisfaction for the site’s owner by making it feel like something’s been accomplished, delaying real progress even further. You’ll be better off putting up the minimum content and then working steadily to flesh out your site.
What else does my site need?
While we can offer suggestions (and are happy to do so), we don’t have a checklist for every type of website. We can, however, point you toward some reliable sources of inspiration:
Browse similar websites to figure out what content might be interesting to your users. Keep a written list of content and features you find interesting.
Look at our content requirements for academic departments. This website includes detailed lists of content requirements, recommendations, and anti-recommendations specific to academic department websites. You might get some ideas from those lists, particularly if the site you’re building is for an academic program.
Search for existing text. Sources might include your CV or professional website; funding proposals; your department’s website; information provided to the College, the University, and/or the Board of Trustees as part of an approval process; slide presentations; and fliers, handouts, other printed pieces, and press releases used for publicity or recruitment purposes. Copy written for any of these purposes can be edited to work for your website.
Try to think like your audience/s. While you are not your users, you might bear a more-than-passing resemblance to them in terms of interests, knowledge, and training. Think about what information you expect to see when you go to websites like the one you’re building, and what users need to know to participate in your activities (i.e., enroll in an academic program, join your research group, submit articles to the journal, etc.).