WashU Sites is Washington University’s self-service web publishing platform, built and supported by University Marketing and Communications and WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications.
This platform gives you a fast and easy way to create and manage your own website at no cost. Right out of the box, your website is feature-rich, mobile-friendly and WashU-branded. All you have to do is add your content.
We know: All of these built-in features make it tempting to dive into a new site right now. We get it, and we’re not going to get in the way if you’re ready to get started. In the long run, though, you will pave the way for a smoother launch if you follow the process below.
1. Define your goals and requirements
Identify the audiences, goals and key features of the site you’re planning. Think about the kinds of content it will include, who will update it, and how frequently. Identify functional requirements, such as the need for a calendar, web form or a filterable list of items.
2. Get to know the WashU Web Theme
Compare your goals and requirements to the key features of the WashU Web theme, which includes custom post types, a page builder and other features to help you organize and enhance your content.
The theme may not suit your needs if your website:
- Requires the publication or collection of sensitive or protected information, including information subject to HIPAA and FERPA restrictions
- Includes e-commerce/payment transactions
- Shares data with external services or databases
- Requires functionality and design elements outside of the theme
- Must be password protected
3. Identify your project team
Think about the roles and responsibilities of your own team members.
- Who are the key decision-makers?
- Who will serve as the main point of contact?
- Who will write and approve page content?
- Who will load content into your site and maintain it after the site has launched?
4. Request a site
Signing up is easy! Fill out the form, and your site will be created almost instantly. You’ll receive an email letting you know it’s ready, then simply log in and begin adding your content.
5. Make it your own
Once you can log in, it’s time to share your story by writing your message, adding photos and customizing features. You can also add more editors to your site, as long as they have a WUSTL Key. Our guides and tutorials will help you make the most of your website.
6. Make it public
By default, your website is hidden from search engines so you have time to prepare it before your big debut. When your key decision-makers have signed off and the site is ready to go public, you’ll toggle a setting to alert search engines of its existence. Before you toggle the switch to “go live,” walk through the launch guide to make sure there are no surprises.
7. Keep it current
After your site launches, your team will continue with maintenance and oversight of its content. Keep updating photos and pages, adding news and events, building out new sections, and adjusting the structure based on feedback from your users. A wonderful though risky thing about the web is that it’s always evolving, and you can update your site daily – so visitors expect it to be current.
Take good care of your content: Identify who is responsible for what pages and updates, and set recurring reminders in your calendars. The marketing and IT offices will manage all technical updates.