Maintaining a Consistent Voice on Your Site
by Jim Heiney, Web/Exchange Administrator at Lock Haven University
on May 02, 2017
You've most likely spent time establishing your website's voice. It helps to drive your brand and deliver a consistent experience across your site. Once it's established, maintaining it can be quite the task as well. Multiple authors can make it hard when you're striving for consistency, so how can you control it?
The easiest option would be to assign all content generation to a person that "gets" your site's voice. This wouldn't be a bad idea if your site amounts to 20 pages or less. Most of our sites don't fall into that category though, so if you don't have a person who is superhuman or is already careless with their sanity, that isn't an option.
One way to manage it is via a style guide. Generally, these define more tangible things like acceptable fonts, picture sizes, official colors, logo use, and so forth. As long as you're standardizing things though, you might as well toss in voice as well. You can describe the feel that you are going for, but it might also be a good idea to have a sample paragraph or two that reflects the style. Also, don't forget that occasionally different parts of your site may have a slightly different voice. Student sections might be much less formal in voice than the rest of your site, so include samples and descriptions as well.
Establishing your style at least gets your contributors in the same ballpark, but there is no denying that some people are better at getting your voice right than others. While you don't want these rare gems to produce all the content, they can at least take a look at incoming pages and make sure inconsistencies are addressed. That’s where OU Campus comes into play.
Workflow in OU Campus gives those in control of your brand a chance to review and approve pages before they hit the production server. It can be set up at three levels, depending on your preference or need. Under the Access settings (hover over the page or folder, then Edit, and finally select Access) for both the folder and page level, you can set a person who will approve pages before publication. If you have a specific person (or multiple persons) who enters content for many pages or folders across your site, you can also set an approver in the user setup (select Users from the Setup menu.)
Voice is a valuable thing and keeping it consistent can make a big difference in how people view your site and, by proxy, your institution. The combination of having a style guide for reference and using the workflow approval process will hopefully help to keep your voice and your brand intact.
About the Blogger
Jim Heiney is the web/exchange administrator for Lock Haven University (LHU). He’s been at LHU for more than 15 years and is still amazed at how much more there is to learn (and he willingly accepts that fact) for those who work with technology. His philosophy of “never stop learning” has led him from English teacher to IT guy with a few other odd stops along the way. When not at work, he can usually be found at home with his family. In his spare time, he can be found writing, drawing, or playing the occasional computer game.
Check out some more of Jim's posts: