KU CMS Tips
Plan Pages First, Revise Content Second
One of the goals of the new design system is to provide choices that encourage all site owners to revisit their content and remove extraneous copy from their sites. One of the best ways to improve user experience and search engine results is to make sure all the copy on your site follows guidelines and best practices for modern web writing.
With the exception of very basic pages, you will likely find it frustrating to try and copy and paste the content from your Drupal 7 site directly into your KU CMS Sunflower site. To avoid that frustration, we strongly recommend you plan your pages first. Start by exploring the cloneable templates and/or the section gallery to decide what sections you want to use for a given page. Then revisit your content with the planned page in mind, allowing you make adjustments to your copy as needed.
As much as you can, try and see the content revision aspects of the site migration/build process as an opportunity to fine tune and improve your website. We know it is a lot of work, but the time investment will result in a more effective website with better user experiences.
Creating Sites with Internal Consistency
Although KU CMS Sunflower provides a lot of options for headers, we do not recommend using a different header for every type of page. Instead be strategic and stick to a handful of select choices for specific reasons to create consistency within your site.
The same can be said for sections in general. We do not recommend using sections for wildly different purposes across your site. Select a set of sections that meets your design needs and deploy them similarly across the site.
Be cognizant of how your section choices impact the user experience and journey. The more your interior landing pages (i.e., landing pages other than the homepage) function similarly the better for internal consistency. The same is true for interior pages. Ask yourself, are you using purposeful consistency across pages to teach users how your specific KU CMS site works, or are you making users work to understand the random patterns they are finding on your site?
Improve Your Search Results
Years ago, search engine optimization or “SEO” was a buzz word that was associated with various tactics designed to game the search engine system and increase your result standings. But, modern browsers are designed to deliver accurate results to users that cannot be easily influenced. Today, quality web writing and strategic site organization are among the best things you can do for your site’s search results.
- See Web Writing for guidelines and best practices to ensure the copy on your site meets the expectations of your audiences.
- See Headers for guidelines and best practices for header titles, and proper use of header classes when organizing your pages.
The Danger of Outdated Content
When content of any kind is out-of-date it can damage your website’s credibility. If users find outdated information in one place, they are likely to assume the site as a whole may also be unreliable.
This applies first and foremost to text content. But, it also applies to images and design elements. Visual cues in images and design elements convey a tremendous amount of information. Outdated images and stale design elements can make an otherwise up-to-date site feel old and out-of-step with the times.
What can you do to prevent your site from having outdated content?
- Whenever possible, write content that is “evergreen” or not time/date-specific. Avoid adding information that is not essential that you will need to come back later to update/remove.
- Any time you need to add time/date-specific information, be cognizant of the fact that you are adding information that will become outdated and have a plan to address it. Consider setting calendar reminders to update/remove time/date-specific information. You can also consider keeping a running spreadsheet of time/date-specific information to establish dates you plan to come back and update/remove impacted information.
- Avoid using images that are more than several years old
- Refresh the images on your site often to ensure the visual information stays fresh and of the moment
- As you select images scan them carefully for any details that will eventually appear outdated.
- Have a site maintenance plan to review all your site content (i.e., text, images, etc.) at minimum two times a year. We recommend having a written site maintenance plan with responsibilities assigned to specific people and scheduled calendar events for consistency and to allow for time allocation.
Avoid Hosting Content You Do Not Control
As a general rule, it is important to avoid hosting content (e.g., documents/pdfs, web copy) on your website that you do not own and control (i.e., have the authority to change). Instead, you should point to an external destination where the information is hosted by the content owner.
The Danger of Hosting Someone Else’s Content
- If the content owner makes changes to the document/web copy, the information on your site will become inaccurate and you will have no way of knowing that the source information changed.
- Hosting out-of-date information on your site can damage your user’s perception of your site’s credibility and trustworthiness.
- Documents - If you host someone else’s document, you take on the responsible of ensuring the document you host on your KU CMS site is accessible. Meaning you are likely to have to make changes to documents you do not control during the accessibility remediation process.
- In most cases, the content owner is already making the information available online. You can simply provide a link to their document/webpage. That way when the content owner makes changes, you connect your users to the current information.
- If the content is not currently posted online, reach out directly and ask the content owner to post it so you can provide a link.
Quoting vs. Hosting Content
In some cases, it may be helpful to quote a small amount of specific information rather than asking a user to leave and go to a different website. If you must do so, remember the following:
- Be sure to properly attribute the information to the content owner
- Give yourself a reminder to check the accuracy of the quoted information frequently enough to avoid issues
Check All Your Pages on Mobile
Before you finalize your pages, always check them to see how they work on mobile devices (i.e., smartphones and tablets).
Why? A significant number of your users will experience your site first and often on mobile devices. If you prioritize the desktop experience, but ignore the mobile experience, you may be setting mobile users up to miss important information.
How to Check Your Pages on Mobile:
Once your site is live, you can check it on any phone or tablet.
However, while your site is in development (i.e., the URL includes .cms-dev), you will not be able to view your site from a phone or tablet.
You will need to use tools in a browser to view the site as it will appear on mobile. We recommend using the Developer Tools in Google Chrome per the instructions below.
How to Check Your Site for Mobile in Google Chrome:
- Open Google Chrome
- Right click anywhere on the page
- From the pop-up, select “Inspect”
- In the top menu bar of the developer tools panel on the right, select the icon that looks like a phone and tablet. This will toggle on the device toolbar.
- From the dropdown menu labeled “Responsive,” select from various current phones and tablets to preview your site.