Email Newsletter Update

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.32.45 AMFor the last couple of years, the University’s news and events have been sent out via the “Campus Digest” email newsletter. In an effort to provide an more engaging experience for readers, University Advancement is making changes to improve this communication. Our first mailing of the semester went out this past Monday, and you may have noticed that we’ve changed the name of the Seton Hall newsletter to “Inside the Hall“. We’ve also added images back to the stories, and included an Instagram photo highlight.

Although the design is responsive, we have noticed the style of this newsletter looks different in different email clients, and seems to lose a heavy amount of formatting in the Office 365 view. We are continually working to make the design as consistent for everyone.

In the coming weeks and months, we will also be making changing to the sort order of news and events to insure we’re giving proper weight to our key communications, mission-based stories and most prominent events as well adding more unique features and engaging content. As always, we are open to your feedback; email me directly at

Analytics for “Inside the Hall” are available to Seton Hall community members upon request.

Blogs, Content Strategy and Content Goals

I am going to mention two of my favorite blogs that give advice about creating content for your website: Aha Media blog and Meet Content.  Both of these blogs remind us why thinking about and reviewing the content on our sites is so important.  I subscribe to both blogs and receive emails with the latest posts.

Ahava Leibtag, from the Aha Media Blog, wrote recently that most of us put off writing content and she offers excellent advice:

  1. Keep a list handy – write down ideas that you can flesh out later.
  2. Scan social media or the blogosphere – as I’ve mentioned before, there is a tremendous amount of good content out there.  Find what you need and use others to keep you up to date on your area.
  3. Ask those you know: if you need to keep a department website current, make sure people know to come to you for updates.
  4. Just do it.

You can read this and other articles here »

Every post on the Meet Content blog is filled with great pointers, especially if you are in the planning phase of content creation.  Their latest blog post focuses on the need for goal-driven content and provides examples of what those goals may be.  I thought this example was particularly helpful in writing about our academic programs: Describe the distinguishing characteristics of an academic program and how it can help students achieve their professional goals.

For the entire post and to dive into Meet Content’s excellent perspective on web content for institutions of higher learning, click here »

Organizing Your Communications

92419672There’s a lot of help “out there” for those of us who have responsibility for promoting our message.  I’ve run into a couple that might be of interest to our content contributors:

  •  The importance of an editorial calendar: I really liked the tagline for this article “don’t post everything on a whim.”  Keep reading and you’ll recognize those action verbs that are really important for any content contributor: “Coordinate” and “Repurpose”  and especially “think long-term.”  Definitely useful advice for those of us who are asked to “put it on the web.”
  • So what exactly IS meta-data?  Read this article to learn more about Meta Descriptions and how search engines (well, Google, anyway) use the meta tag description to find your content. There’s even a short video that explains how to decide which pages are important to tag correctly.


Undergraduate Admissions Redesign

admissionsAt the beginning the year, the web team successfully redesigned and relaunched, our Undergraduate Admissions webpage. This marks the first new “site” in our CommonSpot cloud environment to be launched as part of the web redesign project.

Built in collaboration with Vice President for Enrollment Management Alyssa McCloud, this site features code framework enhancements, updated rendering tools for our dynamic elements, accessibility conscious color palettes and responsive design features. The user experience is not only clean for prospective students, but also provides a new level of self-service for trained members of the Enrollment Services team. We welcome community feedback as we continuously work to improve our admissions pages.

Writing for the Web: What About Grammar Rules?

grammarJakob Nielsen, who has been documenting the user experience since the earliest days of the Internet, is telling us to focus less on grammar and more on clarity when communicating on the Web.  In his latest newsletter, Nielsen reminds us to take into consideration how users approach web content:

  • they scan rather than read closely;
  • they expect the formatting of content to reflect its importance;
  • they look for numbers when looking for facts.

Read Nielsen’s article to learn which grammar rules he suggests you could “break” in order to achieve maximum clarity and keep your users on your page.

Web Redesign Content Audit

The “Content Audit”
As part of the ongoing web redesign project, liaisons and account managers for our schools and colleges have been receiving documentation and recommendations on performing a content audit in anticipation of the their top-level updates. This documentation includes updated information architectures, analytics reports and template wireframes to help inspire our next steps.

We have talked extensively about the content audit in a series of web redesign meetings, and now is the time for communications liaisons to work with their account managers on eliminating unneeded content, identifying what content is missing from your site and preparing for an all new, modernized and technologically presentation.

While working through your content, use your information architectures, review your metrics reports and consider performing a detailed competitive analysis. Imagine how your target audiences might interact with your content in the grayscale’s we’re developing and refine your messages to core storytelling, value statements and resources. We will continue to work with you through this process, but your you immediate goals should include:

  • Insuring all content is current and accurate. Consider future-proofing language to support sustainability.
  • All content is simple and direct, in context of your communications goals as well as search engine optimization.
  • What supporting content (rich media, calls-to-actions and links) any one page should have.

Recommended Reading

A detailed review of past project milestones and upcoming goals will be available on this blog in the coming weeks. For the content audit, our goal is to have all development and revisions submitted by June. Marie Somers and I are available to help anyone working on their audit, or who have questions about the redesign project. We look forward to hearing from you.

Weekly Email Update

email-integration-2It’s been quiet here on the web blog so far in 2014, but it’s been a busy few months for web development and communications at Seton Hall. If indeed March roars in like a lion, I would like to join in and share a lot of news, notes and updates this month. In addition, instead of receiving an email every time a post is made on this blog, I’m electing to send out a weekly digest of everything that’s been posted, not unlike the Campus Digest from Seton Hall. Stayed tuned to your inbox for what’s new and happening next.

Blog Subscribers Update

email-integration-2Recently we experienced an issue with the WordPress plugin that supports our subscription list for the Web and Digital Communications blog. We suspect that during a recent update the email addresses were inadvertently purged from the database. As a result, we’ve had to manually recreate our subscriptions from our list of CommonSpot contributors, department colleagues… and memory.

We’ve taken steps to prevent this from happening in the future, but we may not have added everyone who was subscribed — or mistakingly added someone who hadn’t. Please subscribe again if we missed you, or accept our apology if we mistakingly added you to the list.

A New Home on Twitter and Global Template Updates

In an effort to make our social media presence more intuitive, the Web and Digital Communications team at Seton Hall has successfully migrated our Twitter address to @setonhall. This new address will allow for a more seamless interaction with past, present, and future Pirates as well as the Seton Hall community. We’re sharing this update across all Seton Hall digital outlets now. Please update any links you have to our Twitter account!
Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 10.30.46 AM
To reflect this, we’ve also updated out global footer across pages to include the new link. We’ve also elected to move around those icons, and switch out our Pinterest icon for a link to our LinkedIn university page.

Planners Update

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 1.28.03 AMIn an ongoing effort to provide the best digital communications support, our teams have been working to update and create new web, creative and marketing “planners” for the University Community. These planners provide an easy way to make marketing and creative requests as well as submit new digital communications for the Seton Hall website, email distribution, portals and social media channels.

Many of the older PDF forms are now replaced with updated Formstack forms. Here is the full list of available planners:

*Under development review and testing. Feedback welcome.

Most of these forms initiate a workflow in campus ticketing systems — you will receive a confirmation e-mail when requests are received by these systems, and/or direct communication from campus support teams as requests are processed. Updates to this list will be made available on the Web, Creative and Marketing Planners page.

New University Libraries Website

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 1.01.59 AMBeginning in the Fall 2013 semester, University Libraries has elected to transition from the University standard content management system CommonSpot to Springshare’s Libguides CMS to help provide useful resources to help patrons focus their library research.

Dr. John Buschman, Dean of University Libraries reflected:

“While of course we hope we have accomplished a clean, intuitive and useful research tool for our community, there is always room for improvement. We will seek to shape the web page – and other tools we offer – through reaching out to and listening in a systematic way to those that use them. Sometime later this Fall semester, we will begin the process of seeking that input and shaping our responses around it in order to have a more iterative and responsive process that meets the needs of Seton Hall. Meanwhile, I wanted to announce the changes we made and give some direction of where we will be heading. I of course am happy to answer any of your questions about this or the Libraries as well!”

The site is still available at Other related sites, including Archives and Special Collections as well the Walsh Gallery reside in the same environment for now.

Seton Hall Weekend Web Wrap Up

At the beginning of the month, a record number of parents, students, alumni and friends of Seton Hall came together to celebrate our community at Seton Hall University Weekend. From outdoor performances, arts and crafts, rides, and carnival games to theatre performances, campus tours and sporting events, there was something for everyone to enjoy. At this event, we also kicked off True Blue, a program that recognizes alumni who love Seton Hall and are active and engaged with the University each year.

This week we brought down the site promotion, which had changed three times and reflected all the stages of preparation, celebration and post-event communications this year. Aside from web promotions, our social media accounts were the hub for user generated content as well as video coverage of the weekend and the True Blue launch. #SHUWeekend and #SHUTrueBlue were the staples of these campaigns, featuring hundreds of community based tweets, photos and videos that we’re still sharing now.

My thanks to everyone on our web teams and groups who posted, reposted and shared everything about this exciting event. Aside from our regular social network and web promotions both paid and shared, nothing is more awesome than our grassroots campaigns and the content our communitiy gives back. Here’s some hightlights:

Shorter Authoring URL

It’s here and it’s easier to remember.  You can log in to the authoring server for Commonspot using an address that is easier to remember:

Internet1For the main website:

For the landing page site:

The first time you use these links, please add ‘login.cfm’ to insure you see the CommonSpot controls and aren’t redirected.

You can, of course, still use the previous URL ( or – but we think this one is so much easier to remember.

Let me know if you have any questions!