University of Minnesota
University Relations
Our Brand: How to Convey It

Our Brand: How to Convey It.

New Data for the U's Home page traffic

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Many things have changed online over the last few years - including the U's audience. New data for the U's home page shows that browser diversity is expanding with Safari, Firefox, and Chrome accounting for larger portions of our audience, as well as large growth in mobile browser use.

Mobile devices and tablets are becoming more and more popular. iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) account for ¾ of the mobile visits to the U's homepage.

See the full list of data under the testing section on Our Brand.

Student video contest for $30K in scholarships

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As part of the current Driven to Discover student campaign, the University is hosting a student video contest with $30,000 in total scholarship awards. Students will be asked to submit 30 second videos describing what they are driven to discover. The videos will be posted to the University's official Facebook page and winners will be chosen based on "Likes." The top sixteen most liked videos will receive scholarships.

We're looking to promote the contest to students. Linked here you'll find a .zip file containing both web and print assets for the contest - an 11X17 print poster (PDF) and a 5X5 web graphic (JPEG) with accompanying text in a Word doc. If you'd like a poster sent directly to you, email me.

Here are the dates:
Video submission period: November 16 - December 28
Voting on Facebook: January 3 - 17
Winners officially announced: January 23

The full contest rules and online entry form are available at

New Discover Student campaign assets now available

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The next phase of Driven to Discover, the Driven to Discover Student Campaign, is now live and the communications assets for University units are available. You can find the guidelines here and the asset & template downloads here. Informally, we're calling the campaign Discover Student.

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You might have already seen some of the commercials on TV in recent weeks but, as the name says, the campaign focuses on the student experience. It shares how our students go about their own process of self-discovery during their collegiate years - whether it's a new field of study, an alternative student club, or an inspirational mentor.

The assets for the Discover Student campaign include the basics - print and web graphics and brochure and presentation templates. One new item you'll notice is a special color palette that contains the specific colors of the campaign.

It's important to note that Discover Student does not replace Driven to Discover. Driven to Discover is the University's official brand and Discover Student is an extension of it. If you're a unit still using the Because campaign, don't worry. You can continue to use it and eventually switch over to Discover Student if you'd like to do so.

If you have any questions about using the assets, contact me.

User-centered design kudos

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Last week, at the 10th annual Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) Summit, Avinash Kaushik, Google's analytics evangelist, threw out some kudos to the University of Minnesota homepage and its views.

If you're reading this, you're probably familiar with the views model we've been using on the homepage since May--you can self-select your audience and get more customized content, including navigation, appropriate to you. Students, future students, staff, faculty, and more all have views for that purpose. It's been an eye-opener for us in several ways, including providing more data on what our audiences are interested in, at least those willing to self-select.

Unfortunately, none of us were there to see Avinash's talk, but this writeup from Lisa Grimm at Communications Passionista covers it a bit. The short version seems to be: the U has been called out, in a good way, by a prominent figure in the analytics and wider web community for taking a user-centric approach to our design.

Big impact marketing without the big impact cost

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Last spring Tony Baisley was in a familiar position for communications directors across the University. He needed to come up with a communications campaign to share the amazing work of his faculty while operating on a tightened budget.


Tony and his staff worked with a small team from University Relations to develop five ads sculpted to the stories of his School of Nursing faculty, using the University's Because campaign. It proved to be a success. They built an affordable series, and the school has infused the creative theme throughout its communications.

After he first determined which School of Nursing stories to highlight, Tony turned to UR to help articulate the work and design a creative. He was able to leverage the University's brand and Because templates - saving his money and maximizing communications impact. "We would have had to try our own hand at this or hire an agency to tackle it were it not for their partnership," he says. Tony was also able to work with a team that was familiar with the University and its brand standards. There wasn't the learning curve that an outside designer would have faced.

Going forward, Tony is repurposing the ads throughout the School of Nursing. They hang as artwork in hallways, are part of notecards to donors, and are table tents at events. Next up? "We are now building off the original five ads," he says, "and creating new ones featuring strategic areas of opportunity for us!"

If you want to leverage Driven to Discover in your communications, contact me at

U of M Mobile Website

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As mentioned in a previous post, University Relations is working on a header and footer for mobile devices. This project is part of a larger project to create a U of M Mobile Website. The goal for the larger project will be to create a basic mobile website to launch by the end of the calendar year. Initial content that we intend to be available at launch are:

  • Maps

  • People Search

  • Events

  • Login Pages

  • Mobile site directory

We will be posting information on each of these areas throughout the fall. Check back regularly for updates.

Mobile Header and Footer

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University Relations has started working on a mobile-optimized home page that is accessible using most modern hand-held devices. As part of this project, we will be working on developing a header and footer to use on mobile websites along with standards and guidelines for designing mobile websites. Our plan is to have the new header and footer completed by the end of 2011.

If you have any suggestions/feedback on the header and footer as it relates to the mobile devices, please send an email to

Resources: UofM and Beyond

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A compilation of University websites, listservs, and wikis with a few outsiders thrown in for good measure. Add more resources by commenting on this entry.

U of M web-related listservs

CODE-PEOPLE: For application developers at the U.

WEB_TEMPLATES: Discuss U of M templates and standards.

WEB-PEOPLE: Web developer and designer discussion list.

WEBSTANDARDS: General discussion about web communications at the U.

WEBSTATS: Discussion of University-wide stats.

WEBDEV: News and information about Web design and development from UMD's Laura Carlson.

UMContent listservs

UMCONTENT-USERS: Support list for UMContent content management system users.

Discuss site building guidelines and best practices for CSS layouts and fragments in UMContent.

General web resources

A list apart--A blog "for people who make websites."

The Smashing network--A list of resource sites including Webdesigner Depot, Six Revisions, CSS Tricks, Smashing Magazine, and lots, lots more.

Web Standards Group--The Web Standards Group is a place where the web developers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus come together to network, learn from each other, and put into place the best methods to put together web sites and communicate with our varied audiences.

CSS resources

CSS_DEV Wiki--A wiki organized by the U's CSS Development and Education Workgroup.

The CSS Tutorial--Learn all about CSS at

CSS Tutorial--Another tutorial from

CSS Zen Garden—The power of CSS to change a page without changing the HTML.

The W3C on CSS—What's new with CSS, W3C core styles, authoring tools and more.

XHTML resources

If you use Dreamweaver 4 or above, this extension can automate your conversion from HTML to XHTML.

XHTML Tutorial—The 'how' and 'why' of using XHTML.

XHTML Reference—A best practice guide with descriptions and examples.


Firebug--Provides tools for inspection, analysis, and debugging of HTML, CSS, and Javascript using Firefox.

Firefox Web Developer--Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.

Web Standards Advisor--Combines coding checks with best practices and standards in a user-friendly report.

Grid System Generator--Build a custom grid using the (the same grid system that the U templates use). Tutorials for using the grid system are also available.

Mass email resources


Email Standards Project--Great information for what is and isn't supported in various email clients.

Campaign Monitor Articles & Tips

Constant Contact Learning Center marketing resources marketing strategy and education resources.

Lyris HQ Email Marketing and More--Articles, FAQs, and more on email marketing, integrated marketing, web analytics, and search engine optimization.

Mailer Mailer—Email Marketing Metrics Report includes some interesting data such as click rates based on the length of your subject line and level of personalization.

UMContent resources

UMContent support--The University's support site for UMContent includes recent announcements, FAQs, new site and account request forms.

UMContent Wiki--Review UMContent notes and download vendor and U documents.

Minnesota All Inauguration communications assets available

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As the University welcomes President Eric Kaler, a variety of communications assets are available to help announce his inauguration and its theme, "Minnesota All." Use the assets to promote related events you are hosting during the week (September 19th to 25th). As always, please follow the basic elements of the brand standards such as allowing for proper buffer space and not altering the graphics. If you have any questions about using the Minnesota All assets, please contact me or

Web Style Guide

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This spring, when the U's home site was redesigned, the University Parent website was also redesigned. The site was put into UMContent so that staff from the Parent Program could update their content instead of relying on web staff.

To help non-technical folks understand what they can do and how they should do it, I wrote a style guide for the Parent website. It began as a simple one page doc that explained different heading tags, image sizes and styles, list styles, and so on. Since this was actually my inauguration into using UMContent, I quickly determined that additional documentation was necessary to help staff understand how to maneuver through UMContent to make specific updates.

In order to enable staff to do as much as possible on their own, I wrote instructions for common things we do when making and editing pages in UMContent. Creating a new page, editing an existing page, making links, uploading images, and changing page layouts are some of the "lessons" I've posted along with the style guide.

Of course, this is a work in progress and I'm adding more pages almost daily as our documentation grows. My uber plan is to take this framework and make a style guide that is less site-specific; one that can be used by anyone in our office who works with pages in UMContent.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share what I've started. Your feedback is welcome. And if you have a style guide of your own that you'd like to share, please add a link to it in the comments section of this post.

Note that some of the links in the style guide will ask you for authentication. Sorry, you can't go there. ;)

University Parent Web Style Guide.