Getting Started

Preparing your content

Building a useful website involves much more than just publishing content to the Internet. A good website focuses its content on what the audience wants. While internal requirements may mandate that certain information needs to be published, care should be taken to limit such cases to those that are really necessary. In order to help you achieve this, the first step in transitioning to Drupal is to focus on your content. Drupal makes many things easy to do, but it can’t (yet) write your content for you.

If you are receiving direct support from the Drupal Migration Team to transition to Drupal, you will need to follow all steps in this section and submit all completed documents to the Communications Directorate for review. If you are migrating independently to Drupal, either with your own Web team or by using of the University’s vendors of record, it is encouraged that you follow these steps to better prepare you for your migration.

Step 1 - Developing a communications plan

In order to build a more usable website, it is important to focus your content and site design on meeting the needs of your audience. To achieve this, the first step to write a communications plan for your website. This plan will provide important information for the teams working with your site and will help you identify your primary audiences so that you may focus your content on their needs.

A communications plan is simply a text document (done in Word) with the following sections. You can use the attached template to get started.

  • Context: In this section, provide some contextual information about your unit, group or faculty. Also provide any information about your other external communication strategies apart from the website.
  • Objectives: Here, you should provide some detail on your objectives in creating a website. Consider what users might want to do on your site and what you want them to do on your site.
  • Audience: Briefly detail the audience(s) for your site. What types of people are you trying to attract to your site?
  • Key Messages: For each of your audiences, what are the key messages or types of information that you are trying to impart to them?
  • Strategy: Explain how will you achieve your objectives. What actions will be taken in order to achieve them?
  • Success Metrics: What metrics will you use to track whether or not you have met your objectives.

Case Study: Writing a plan

Here is a sample of what might have been written for the Department of Game Development. The information provided here is very basic. For your own communications plan, you are welcome to elaborate..

 

Context

The Department of Game Development is devoted to educating students on how to develop computer games. Currently, our site is organized into two main types of content: one set for prospective students and one for existing students. Our content relies heavily on having animation, as we must appear to be on the cutting edge of technology in order to attract new students. This is something we would like to maintain in Drupal.

 

Objectives

  • To provide our current and prospective students with the information they need
  • To improve our site’s accessibility
  • To update and reorganize our site’s hierarchy to improve the user experience
  • To adopt the University’s new look and feel
  • To have better integration with our social media channels

 

Audience

  • Prospective students
  • Current students of the Department

 

Key Messages

  • For prospective students, we provide them with information on the programs available to them and the types of things they would be studying.
  • For current students, we provide them with information on current events and their professors.

 

Strategy

  • In order to make the site more usable, we will conduct a survey of our students to see what kind of information they are looking for on our site.

 

Success Metrics

  • We will be using Google Analytics to analyze traffic to our site, to determine whether or not we are getting increased interest.

Step 2 - Assessing where you’re at

Before migrating your site to Drupal, it is important to have an understanding of your existing content. First, create a site map and a content inventory for your existing site. If you are not migrating from an existing site, you can create a content inventory for your new site and modify the steps below as needed. You should still follow Step 3 and prune your planned content to ensure it is relevant.

 

A content inventory is a list of all the pages on your current site, with the following information:

  • An ID number that shows the hierarchy
  • Old URL (both French and English if applicable)
  • Current page title (both English and French if applicable)
  • The role responsible for providing and updating the content
  • Whether or not the current content is accurate and up to date
  • Whether or not the current content is useful to the business and/or the audience

○     You should consult your communications plan in order to determine this

You can use the University’s SiteImprove tool in order to build a list of all the web pages on your site. (All University webmasters should have access to this tool in order to monitor the accessibility of their website.)

 If you have many files attached to your site, such as PDFs, you may want to build a similar list for them as well. You can use the attached templates in order to start your Content Inventory or File Inventory.

Step 3 - Pruning your content

The Internet is a dynamic and constantly changing environment. You should only keep information that is accurate and frequently used available on your site, unless it is legally mandated. Please consult Procedure 20-4 - Record Retention Periods for more information on how long data should be archived.

In this step, you will take your content inventory and create a new version of it that will focus on the needs of your users. Designing the content of a site to match the user’s need is a key strategy at the University. In order to do this, add three new columns to your spreadsheet: one for the role responsible for maintaining the content, one for whether or not the content is accurate or not and one for whether or not it is useful. Go through your content inventory and ask your team the following questions:

  • Does this information play a part in accomplishing the objectives of my site?
  • Will my users actually read this content and take something away from it?
  • Is this content legally required to be on my site?
  • Is the content available on another, more centralized site that I could link to?
  • Is the information accurate and well written for the web?
  • Who is responsible for maintaining this content?

 

If, in considering these questions, a section of content is not required or can be centralized, it should be removed from your site (mark as “No” under “Useful”) and the existing content should be archived. Only content that is relevant, unique, accurate and useful should be kept in this second iteration of your content inventory. If your content requires a rewrite to be more accurate or better suited for the web (see the later section on Writing for the Web), mark it as “No” underneath the “Accurate?” column. Finally, for content you are writing, note the person responsible for generating the content in the appropriate column.

There may be new content that needs to be added to your site during this process in order to meet your goals. While these may not be included in the migration process itself, add them to your content inventory anyways in order to track them and implement them later.

You may also want to adjust the hierarchy of your site at this point. A good site hierarchy, also referred to as a sitemap, will organize pages into a consistent structure that is useful to the user (but not necessarily true to the organization). A new user who is unfamiliar with their site should easily be able to execute common tasks. If you are ever unsure of whether or not what you are doing is the best strategy, we recommend user acceptance testing (UAT) as the best strategy for finding out more about what your users would find most beneficial. With UAT, you would present a mock-up of the element you are trying to test (e.g. index cards representing menu options) and ask a number of users to perform a task. Note if and where they struggle to complete the task; this will help you to identify the problem areas with your information. UAT results can be very persuasive for making changes that will improve the user experience on your site. For best practices on how to get the most out of your site navigation in Drupal, contact the Web Communications team in the Communications Directorate.

 

Case Study: Creating and pruning a content inventory

Here is a short excerpt from the Department of Game Development’s revised content inventory. For brevity, the French columns have been omitted. The first three columns would have been generated in Step 2 and the last three in Step 3. In this example, it has been determined by the content owners that the About the Department page is providing little useful content to the user and that the content for Why Study Game Development needs to be rewritten.

ID

Page Title (EN)

Page URL (EN)

Responsible Role

Accurate?

Useful?

1

Home Page

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Associate Dean

Yes

Yes

1.1

About the Department

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/about.html

 

 

No

1.2

Programs of Study

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/programs.html

Webmaster

Yes

Yes

1.2.1

PC Game Development

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/pc.html

Program Head

Yes

Yes

1.2.2

Steam Game Development

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/steam.html

Program Head

Yes

Yes

1.2.3

Video Game Development

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/video.html

Program Head

Yes

Yes

1.3

Why Study Game Development

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/whystudy.html

Webmaster

No

Yes

Step 4 - Updating your URLs

After you have created your content inventory, you will need to standardize the new URLs for Drupal. For each page in your content inventory, use the following guidelines to decide on an English and French URL for each page.

 

  • It should consist of clear and concise English or French words that:
  • Make the topic of the page clear to the reader, and
  • Can serve as a good keyword for search engines.
  • It should not contain any short, non-descriptive articles, conjunctions, or prepositions (e.g.: the, a, to, for, in, and, or, etc.).
  • It should not be an acronym.
  • It should not duplicate words at any level.
  • It should replicate the hierarchy found in your navigation.
  • Words should be separated by hyphens.

 

Write down these URLs in your content inventory for the pages you are keeping in columns labelled “New URL (EN)” and “New URL (FR)”. Do not replace the old URLs as they will be used to create redirects from your old pages. Use the word “<front>” to indicate which page is your home page.

 

For pages that you are removing from your site, provide one of the new URLs (or an external URL) where the audience should be redirected to in columns labeled “Redirect URL (EN)” and “Redirect URL (FR)”. If possible, this URL should contain the information that was previously available.

Case Study: Updating your URLs

Here is a short excerpt from the Department of Game Development’s URL strategy. For brevity, only English URLs have been provided.

ID

Page URL (EN)

New URL (EN)

Redirect URL (EN)

1

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

<front>

 

1.1

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/about

 

why-study

1.2

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/programs

programs

 

1.2.1

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/pc

programs/pc

 

1.2.2

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/steam

programs/steam

 

1.2.3

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/video

programs/video

 

1.3

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/whystudy

why-study

 

Step 5 - Analyzing your technical requirements

Now that you have decided what pages you are keeping, it’s time to consider the features and functionality that your site will require. Drupal is different from other content management systems and uOttawa’s Drupal version is more different still. Be sure you read the rest of this guide before your team begins this step so that you have a good idea of how things work in the distribution and what is already available.

 As a team, begin with a brainstorming session to list of everything your sites need to be able to do or display, no matter how trivial. As a starting point, you may want to consider the following types of items: 

  • Do you have many pages (or elements within one or more pages) that have the same types of content, repeated over and over again? For example: news articles often all have a published date, title, by-line, and body content; a list of webcasts might also have the same types of data repeated for each webcast. This is the type of data that will become content types.
  • Do you have content displayed in a certain way, perhaps with some user interaction? Consider things like slideshows, calendars, image galleries, etc. Do you have lists of content that are displayed in a particular format, such as a list of webcasts that expand when you click on them?
  • Do you have other ways in which the user interacts with the site, such as forms? Do you have specific controls or widgets they use?
  • Do you have ideas on how your content could be better displayed to improve its usability?
  • Do you require the ability to import data from an external source?

From your brainstorming session, begin a spreadsheet outlining your technical requirements. If possible, include a link to an existing page where the feature already exists and provide a Details column with as much information as you have on your needs and wants. Then, go through this spreadsheet to try and associate each feature with an already existing feature within the uOttawa Web CMS distribution (which are all detailed in this document).

Highlight any feature that does not have a match and indicate whether or not you are willing to launch without it in a “Critical?” column. The Web CMS team may be able to discuss with you how you can implement it within the University’s Drupal version; if not, a discussion around a new development project to include the feature will take place instead.

The more detail that this document includes, the better the estimates for your project will be. That said, the Web CMS team will be happy to help you identify whether or not one of our features can be used in a certain way, so if you are unsure, please feel free to highlight the item. 

Case Study: Analyzing technical requirements

Here is a short excerpt from the Department of Game Development’s revised content inventory. For brevity, the French columns have been omitted. The first three columns would have been generated in Step 2 and the last three in Step 3. As you can see, it has been determined that the About the Department page is providing no useful content to the user and that the content for Why Study Game Development needs to be rewritten.

 

Feature

Notes

Example URL

Critical?

Drupal

New articles for the home page

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Yes

News App

Slideshow on the home page

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Yes

Slideshow Widget

Faculty login widget for students

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Yes

No

HTML5 animation presentation

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

No

No

Calendar widget with current events

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Yes

uoCal App

Design for an advertising block and button

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Yes

No

Course sequence for students

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Yes

Course Sequence App

Feedback form on new site

 

http://engineering.uottawa.ca/game-development/

Yes

Forms

Step 6 - Submitting your project brief

If you are part of the Drupal Migration Project, you are now ready to write a project brief for the Communications Directorate in order to start the process. Please consult the online template for this and submit it, along with your three pieces of documentation, in order for your project to be approved. If you are migrating independently, your communications plan, your full content inventory, and your technical requirements analysis will still be useful tools for your migrating team to draw upon. 

    Status: 
  • Accepted
    Topics: 
  • Getting Started
    Types: 
  • User Guide
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