Website planning overview

1. Starting out your web project

The Messiah University website comprises over 100 smaller sites, referred to as "sub-sites," each owned and managed by various offices and departments across campus.

When undertaking the redesign, reorganization, or creation of a new sub-site, it is crucial to initiate the project strategically by considering the goals and overall strategy behind the web project.

Consider the following:

  • Who's your audience? Think about current students, prospective students, alumni, and others.
  • What do you want visitors to do on your site? Will they be filling out forms or finding information? 
  • How will your site be organized? How many pages will you need?
  • Do you need forms or other customized features?

Addressing these questions helps the Web Services team serve you better and establishes a clear scope of work before diving into the project.


2. Ownership and training

While Web Services offers help in setting up your site, ongoing day-to-day support for sub-sites is not provided. Before kicking off the project, it's crucial to determine the "owner" of the page and identify who will be responsible for updates in our content management system (CMS) post-launch. If no one is familiar with the CMS, someone will need to attend a "Jadu 101" training session before the sub-site launch. This ensures smooth management and updates for your page. For information on setting up a Jadu training, contact Jen Romanchak at  


3. Audience groups and information architecture

Colleges and universities need to carefully consider the diverse audience groups visiting their websites daily. Different members of these groups may have varying expectations for a sub-site. For instance, an academic department sub-site must acknowledge that prospective students may prioritize program overviews, while current students may be seeking faculty contact information and course schedules for advising.

Once the audience groups are determined, it’s important to prioritize what groups if any should have the most presence on your sub-site. This ensures that the content aligns with the specific needs and interests of the primary visitors.

Information architecture

Information architecture (IA) focuses on organizing, structuring, and labeling content in an effective and sustainable way. The goal is to help users find information and complete tasks. (

Information architecture is an important step when organizing your site. We use a web application called “Smartsheet” to help us organize the IA of new sites. In the example below, you can see that we have organized the top-level pages along with pages that should be nested under those top-level pages. Your site IA can be no more than 3 levels deep.

Download the IA example


User journeys

User journeys are a great way to think through the goals of your website. Ask yourself what people are looking for, how they entered the site and the tasks they need to complete. After determining this, makeup some “user journeys” that will help the web team better understand the functionality that would need to be included in your website. You DO NOT need to include user journeys for everything, just the important outcomes the visitor would need to achieve. Here are some examples of user journeys below.

  • An alumnus enters our site (The Development Office) after receiving an email from us. They should be able to quickly find a way to create a reoccurring donation to Messiah University in 1 click. *High priority
  • A prospective student enters “dual enrollment at messiah university” in a search engine and should see a link for our site (Dual Enrollment). After clicking on our website link they should be able to navigate through detailed information about how to apply for dual enrollment and find the application link in 2 or less clicks.  *High priority
  • A current student should be able enter our site (Dining Services) and easily locate this week’s menu for Lottie in less than 3 clicks. *High priority
  • A prospective or current student should be able to enter our website (Financial Aid) and be able to quickly find a link to “important dates” from our homepage. *Medium priority
  • After entering our site (Human Resources) an employee should be able to find a link to the employee handbook in less than 3 clicks  *Medium priority

4. Submit a web help ticket to initiate your project 

Once you have your project planned out, submit a web help ticket to initiate your project with web services. Depending on the size and scope of your project, we may request a meeting with the web services manager to be certain all project stakeholders are on the same page. 

Start my web project