After a long absence, I am back at the blogging post, with a new look and a new mission. The new look is courtesy of ASU's University Technology office. The new mission is to discuss the tactical and operational issues related to the implementation of ASU's emerging technology strategy.
Before I dive into the virtues of today's topic -- Prune Concentrate -- l want to extend my appreciation and apologies to the "standing room only" group that attended the "State of IT" presentation over in Life Sciences E Wing on May 25th. Next year I promise a larger room. If you missed the meeting -- or just want to relive the magic :) -- you can download a podcast of the event here (or the video here).
Now on to Prune Concentrate...
The long sought cure for acute blogger's block? The worst marketing idea since Milk of Magnesia ? No. Prune Concentrate is a prescription for improving asu.edu in the short term, a step along the road to complete amazondotcomification.
Consider the following excel spreadsheet of web stats that Nate Wilken put together this past week. It shows a couple of interesting things about asu.edu.
- www.asu.edu is ASU's highest ranked page (with a PageRank of 9) and it receives about 1/3 of ASU's total web traffic.
- Half the remaining web visits are to one of 55 ASU pages, the top ten of which are:
So the lion's share of our traffic hits a relatively small proportion of our site's pages. Which should make creating a world class web presence easy -- establish a single look and feel and concentrate development and maintenance effort on the places people go. Sounds good, but it's not the strategy we follow.
Instead, the lion's share of ASU's web development and maintenance energies are spent in creating new pages, with distinct looks and distinct branding, that end up receiving relatively little in the way of visitors but require significant resources to maintain.
In www.asu.edu we have the web traffic and GoogleJuice commercial players would pay serious marketing dollars to generate. And in my opinion, www.asu.edu looks the part of a first rate homepage. But the pages just one link away from the homepage, while still receiving the traffic, do not recieve the attention. We're just not making the best use of our high value real estate.
Consider the eServices page as an example. Located one link away from the highly ranked www.asu.edu, the eServices page is one of ASU's top ten, a prime piece of web territory. But instead of a cleanly designed web portal, eServices presents a laundry list of links to services and information located on the individual homepages of a plethora of different organizations within ASU. With at least 10 different brandings, designs, portal schemes, and login screens, these services create differences without distinction.Which is not to knock the folks that create and maintain the eServices page. Its just that it was created after the fact, as a mechanism to cope with the proliferation of places where vital information was being published.Enter Prune Concentrate. Prune, as in the reduction of the number of distinct looks, feels, sub brands, and organizational affiliations. Concentrate, as in the gathering of critical content in those places on our site where traffic already gathers.Despite all our efforts to the contrary, our users -- the applicants, alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends -- don't really care if a service comes from Human Resources or Central IT. Its all ASU to them. Our insistence on attribution is just confusing. Multiple login pages, different web designs, portals aplenty -- all of these serve to make our users wonder if they've come to the right place.So as a first step in ASU's amazondotcomification process, we're setting about the task of reworking the eServices page so it feels like a one-stop shop for all of ASU's electronic support. Consistent branding, clean single sign-on, the elimination of overlap. We'll try to do it incrementally, so you start to see benefit right away, and we'll try to keep the dust to a minimum. Meanwhile, if you have other ides about high-traffic, high-value web real estate that isn't reaching its full potential, let us know.
BTW: There are some other really interesting pages in the top 55. Coming in at 45 in May was a page devoted to the Take Our Young Women to Work day event sponsored by the UCW. Number 42 is The Logicite, developed to assist philosophy students at ASU. Wonder how they're driving their traffic?