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

Our Brand: How to Convey It.

April 2010 Archives

Brand Sites Redesign Update

| No Comments

The process to combine the eCommunication Standards, Graphic Standards, Images Library, and Style Manual sites is moving along on schedule. We've just completed information architecture and will move on to storyboards next week. Design will follow.

The goal in combining these sites is to make it easier for our users to find everything they need in one place. Based on survey responses, we will make navigation less cumbersome, improve the organization of downloads for templates and for logos, provide more instruction for commonly used items, and show more real-world examples of how logos and templates are being used by campus units.

We're still on track for a fall launch. In the mean time, our current sites will continue to be updated as new information becomes available. It just won't be organized very well or look too pretty... ;)

Recent changes to U search pages

| No Comments

You might have noticed that, the TC people search pages, and some of the Google Search Appliance results pages have recently been updated to use the new template headers and footers.

You might be interested in the Google Search Appliance (GSA) changes. GSA uses XSLT for the results rendering. Out of the box their XSLT (as of GSAv6.2) is still behind the times. Hint: you'll still see <br> tags, as in not resembling XHTML. This makes validation pretty ugly.

We took the XSLT from the gsa-xhtml-stylesheet project, which produces much, MUCH cleaner code. Note that gsa-xhtml-stylesheet notes compatibility with an older GSA version, so something may well be broken or additional functionality found in v6.2 not already in the sheet.

We updated it to use the standard UMN template header and footer, but generally left the results styling alone. We make no claim that the XSLT code is pretty, but it works, has browser tested OK in common browsers (including IE6), and only had eight validation errors last time we looked, as opposed to hundreds.

Want a copy? Shoot us a note at

"Fan us" is deadicus

| No Comments

As many of you know, on April 21, Facebook announced several changes to its system. One of the most glaring changes was swapping the "Become a Fan" buttons for "like" buttons on brand pages.

This means that for all of us who chose to use the phrase "Fan us on Facebook," it is not gonna work anymore. University Relations is now adopting a more general term --"Join us on Facebook" -- and will be removing any "fan us" phrases on the websites it maintains. The "join us" phrase is generic enough so when Facebook either reverts back to "fan us" because of the swell of complaints it is receiving or decides to change "like" to "love" in the future, rework will not need to happen.

In addition, I just want you to know the "like" widget is being investigated as far as how easy it would be to embed into University web pages, any legal ramifications, and the potential need to update the University's privacy statement as the implications re: collecting personal data have just been amplified by the Facebook changes.

The electronic communications team has devoted significant time/resources on this issue since Facebook announced the changes. I want to assure you, the team is doing its best at being nimble and flexible and will keep you updated.

The decline of the homepage

| No Comments

Below is a reprint of an article by Gerry McGovern which is worth taking the time to read. Visit Gerry's site at:

More and more customers are going straight to specific pages on your website, rather than the homepage.

In 2003, 39 percent of the page views for a large research website were for the homepage. By 2009, it was down to 19 percent. In one month in 2008, of the 70,000 page views a technology site received, 22,000 were for the homepage. For the same month in 2010, of the 120,000 page views the site received, only 2,500 were for the homepage.

Another technology website had roughly 10 percent of page views for the homepage in 2008, and by 2010 it was down to 5 percent. One of the largest websites in the world had 25 percent of visitors come to the homepage in 2005, but in 2010 only has 10

People don't vaguely browse on the Web. When was the last time you arrived at Google and said to yourself: "I just don't know what to search for. Someone give me a word." As Web usage matures, it becomes more specific.

Years ago people might have thought about getting to the homepage and then figuring out where to go on the site. Now they will use search or external links to get closer to the place they really want to get to. So, for example, people are becoming less likely to simply type "Toyota" into a search and more likely to type "Toyota recall".

Many marketers and communicators think their homepage is a giant billboard or megaphone. They become obsessed with its redesign and with placing lots of happy talk and smiling faces on it. That's part of the reason customers are avoiding the homepage.
They don't see it as useful.

Have you ever bought a book from Amazon because of an ad you saw on its homepage? Have you ever bought a book from Amazon because of the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" feature? Both are marketing techniques. The first is megaphone old school print and TV marketing. The second is web marketing.

Marketers and communicators have got to let go of the idea that they control the message or the customer. Not on the Web you don't. What customers love most about the Web is the fact that it puts them in control. That's why the Web is so popular. Search is not a passive activity; it is an active, directed activity. Clicking on a link is like following a sign post. You have a destination in mind. And people are looking for the shortest way to get to that destination.

Your customers don't want to get to your homepage. At best, the homepage is merely a series of signposts that will help them head in the right direction. Unfortunately, too many marketers and communicators are destroying whatever credibility their homepages have left with customers by filling them with useless graphics and meaningless words.

Too often marketing and communication behave like needy children. Or like the tailors telling the CEO Emperor about how beautiful his new clothes look. On the Web, content may be king but remember that the customer is dictator.