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Web Content Best Practices

A department website is an excellent resource for current and future students, their families, and the community. However, if these websites are badly formatted, difficult to understand, and have outdated information, users won’t get any value from the site, and may end up with a negative opinion of your department or of ACC.

The following best practices will help you and your team create a website that is useful, accurate, and attractive to the audience you want to reach.

Target your audience

The more you know your audience, the more focused your website will be.  The more targeted your website, the more effective your message will be. If a student is interested in taking classes or getting a degree in your program, what do they need to know to be excited about the opportunities you offer?

Develop content

Start with a list of everything you offer. Explain what students need to do to access your services, or apply for classes, or participate in events. The web team will help flesh out your content, and having this in place will make the process much easier.

Remember that the web page is for the user, whether that is a current student or a potential student. Make sure to focus on what visitors have come to the website for. An About Us section or mission statement is better placed on a secondary page rather than front and center on the main page. 

Static content vs. dynamic content

Websites go stale quickly. Links break all the time. Here are a few ways to make sure your website stays evergreen for as long as possible.

The main page should be static, with content that stays the same as much as possible. Avoid language like New! Or, coming up in 2024! You will be surprised at how quickly that goes out of date.

Events: Have a separate event page with a calendar. Confine your events to the calendar as much as possible.

If you are advertising an event on the main page of your site, make sure you set a date to take that notice down as soon as the event is over. The web team is looking into WordPress apps that can schedule this,  but just be aware that taking down an event notice is as important as putting it up.

The same goes with registration and application deadlines. If your program has unique application deadlines, put the notice on your website, but the day after the deadline, take down the notice or revise it to tell people that the deadline has passed.

News: As with events, have a dedicated news page for your timely content. And if you have a news page or a blog, it’s crucial to keep these pages up to date. Don’t commit to a blog, and have the last post be six months or a year old.

Make maintenance a regular occurrence, and check with the web team if you have any issues that you can’t handle.

Understanding SEO

Search engine optimization helps websites rank high in search results on Google and other search engines. Ranking on the first page means that Google thinks your website is useful to users and that it has accurate information.

You don’t need to know a lot about SEO to create content for a great website, but here are a few best practices that can help.


The web team can identify the top keyword search terms that users are asking when they reach your site. Then, we can write headlines and copy around those keywords and key phrases. The most important thing to remember is to use keywords sparingly and naturally. Overusing keywords can turn off readers.

Try to use the keyword in the main title of the page as that confirms to Google that the page is about what it claims to be about. 

Meta descriptions

WordPress lets you create meta descriptions of your site, which are those snippets of information that show up in search results. Google will sometimes use its own meta description, but you should always provide one. That way you can control the messaging. Use your keyword in the meta description, which is another way to attract users.

Site organization

Google looks are headlines and site structure to see if the page is easy to read. Organize content in short paragraphs, and use subheads, bullet points, and other visual elements to guide the eye down the page. 

Vocabulary, Style, and Grammar

Make sure that your language is clear and straightforward. Avoid passive voice. Keep sentences simple. Your audience probably doesn’t have a higher ed background, so avoid academic-speak as much as possible.


Images and video are a great way to liven up your website, making it more attractive to users. They can slow down load times, though, so it’s important to use the proper file type and format.

Make sure images and video are optimized for the web.

Use alt tags on images. Alt tags are descriptions that show up if for some reason the image link breaks. Google will reward websites with alt tags on images over sites that don’t use them. They are also an accessibility feature, making your website more user-friendly.

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