The first impression most people will get of your unit comes from your online presence. The competition for limited attention is tough, and visitors will decide to stay or go in seconds. And though numbers are nice for show, the most important measure of success is reaching your intended audience and getting them to act on that information.

Effectiveness is no accident. It requires a commitment of resources, which likely are scarce, so you need a strategy that includes logistics and tactics that you can support. The idea of an extensive website with lots of images and widgets is appealing, but is that what you need? Is there staff to maintain it?

Will visitors come if you build it? Or are they on Facebook? Or LinkedIn? Or Twitter?

Are you? Should you be?

There are questions that need answers before you start writing copy and posting photos.

Developing a strategic online presence begins with several considerations:

  • First, clearly articulate the goals of your school or department. Time spent on activities that don't advance those could be better spent elsewhere.
  • Second, assess your ongoing communication efforts. Are they thorough? Measurable? Professional? Is there a return worthy of your investment in time and money? Can those resources be reallocated?
  • Next, take an honest inventory of the personnel, technology, tools and time available for use and plan not to overspend.
  • Finally, decide in advance how you will measure success. Then periodically assess and refine your efforts and benchmarks.
Web Communications can review your strategy and provide logistical support to help reach your target audience with a professional UAB Web presence. Templates available in our content-management system Joomla can provide you branding consistency, audience-friendly design and navigation, easy-to-manage content updates and most important — Internet and network security. And we provide free guidance, tools and resources to help you expand, upgrade and evaluate your online presence.

After completing the Communications Brief,

        • Select a site manager to be the primary contact with Web Communications and UAB IT and the primary content overseer
        • Develop a plan for maintaining current, accurate and well-communicated content that includes specific expectations and establishes a regular update or review
        • Identify content owners who will be responsible for creating, reviewing and maintaining content
        • Develop comprehensive site structure and navigation
        • Submit the new UAB Branded Website Request Form

Web Communications will

        • Create and place the required, approved UAB logo on the selected Joomla template
        • Provide technical support for the content-management system, Joomla
        • Include the site in UAB's comprehensive search tool, Google Search Appliance
        • Ensure the site complies with all UAB brand standards and policies for UAB websites