The ‘Welcome Back’ Website Checklist

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The start of classes in the fall marks a heightened excitement across campus. From move-in day to “welcome back” events, the start of the semester is an excellent time to broadcast your story and impact to new and returning students. This excitement can be used to your advantage in communicating your impact on campus. Below are some concepts to consider as the new academic year arrives:

Is Your Website Up-to-Par?

Think of your website as the “home” of your department. Often, this is the first interaction many students, parents and countless other segments have with your department. Aside from having updated content and relevant information, is your website designed with the user’s experience in mind? Metrics such as pageviews, pages per session, and time on page on Google Analytics can supply a wealth of knowledge and can steer you in the right direction. The Google Analytics dashboard even tracks how users are navigating on your page through a “behavior flow.”

Aiding the user’s experience by minimizing the number of pages navigated will maximize your traffic. Instead of spending time searching for a page, users should be able to find the information quickly. Think about your most “important” page, such as facility hours and specific program information. Are these pages buried in old architecture? If so, make them as visible as possible.

Be Part of Something Bigger

The first weeks of classes are a time for the entire university to come together. Social media can help cultivate conversation without the appearance of being “marketing.” Spend time listening and sharing. Social media dashboards, such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and others are invaluable for listening, content creation and sharing. Does your university have an official hashtag to document welcome week? Add a feed to your dashboard and monitor content using this hashtag.

Share content from the official university account and from campus partners. Create “welcome back” content for the first day of classes. Use traditions that everyone on campus knows. This “rah-rah” strategy leverages the excitement and puts your department at the forefront of students’ feeds.

Get Out

As hard as this may be, life also happens on campus outside of the recreation center. Leaving the office and documenting the fever pitch of activity across campus can give you a new avenue of content to explore. Is there a massive ultimate Frisbee game going on in the main quad? Document it. Excellent weather? Encourage people to get moving outside.

Sharing physical activity or any other mission-driven concept does not have to only exist in your space. Celebrating activity and finding ways to use unique content breaks up a lot of the minutia of the day-to-day content strategy. Be spontaneous.

With summer ending, get excited for the hustle of the semester. More importantly, think about the first impression you will make to students, parents and the university community, and how you can contribute your own take on the happenings on-campus.

Adam Sardinha
Adam Sardinha is the marketing and communication specialist for NC State University Wellness and Recreation. He oversees the department’s communications operation including the creation and implementation of marketing strategies using design, social media and web communication. Before joining the Wolfpack, Adam served the assistant director of marketing for Campus Recreation at Auburn University. He earned a bachelors of fine arts in graphic design from the University of Central Florida and a masters of education in higher education administration from Georgia Southern University.

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