Homepage Survival Guide: How to Raise Content from the Dead #heweb11
Photo by Maccio Capatonda, Flickr.
Breath life into your site using content that’s already out there. Missouri State’s website features embedded streams which gather feeds from multiple outlets (social media, RSS, etc). Instead of asking users to visit different presences across the web, the streams allow users to keep their finger on the pulse of Missiouri State-related content in one unified place.
Non social media-savvy people, or those who aren’t engaging with multiple channels, can still see what’s happening with the University. It also allows campus stakeholders to be “on the homepage” — as long as they are engaging with their own social media outlets. The streams, however, are customized based on audience: current students get a different stream on the current student page highlighting items that are different from the homepage stream.
The programming underlying Missouri State’s stream, which was developed in-house, prioritizes certain feeds over others to highlight the most instituionally important content.
The streams have proved so popular that other divisions (residence life, public affairs, the University President) have implemented streams relevant to their areas on their sites, for which they are responsible for curating.
Key Components to the Missouri State Homepage Stream
- RSS feeds
Problems and Solutions
- Duplicate items. Code was added to pick up and remove multiple postings of links, so users aren’t inundated with repetititve content
- Lengthy URLs in posts. Content creators frequently posted lengthy URLs; these are converted to the easy-on-the-eyes, call to action language “Visit Link.”
- Fast vs. Slow content creation. Some content creators post multiple items in fast succession, while others post once every three months. To balance the flow of the stream, posts from a single account are limited to one per every half-hour. Institutional feeds are exempt from this time restriction
- Inappropriate content. Any sources which post content deemed inappropriate are removed from the stream.
- Capacity issues. Too many feeds into the stream will slow down the updates. Missouri State, which currently has approximately 90 feeds, evaluates potential new feeds carefully. Feeds must address at least two institutional audiences (e.g. prospective students and current students) to be considered for the homepage stream