No News is Better Than Old News

According to Hitwise, the Advocate Health System web site was the sixth most visited hospital web site in November 2004.

With such large and popular site, you'd think they'd have a lot to talk about every month - apparently not.

On their Careers page (which, from my own experience, is probably one of the most visited parts of the site), the most recent news "article" dates back to April 2003, and (even worse) that entry is just a test one!

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What impression does this provide in terms of the quality of the organization, commitment to excellence, etc?

Don't Add News Lightly

A news section is often something that stakeholders ask for without a having a clear idea of what's going to go in there and who's going to maintain it.

Consequently, it becomes overly burdensome to keep it up to date with content (let alone content that is interesting to read), and so the frequency of update becomes less and less until, as in this case, it can stop altogether.

When this starts to happen, it is the responsibility of the web team to go back to the stakeholder and tell them that unless the news section starts getting updated regularly its going to be cut entirely.

Or, if their feeling particularly brave, to cut the news section and see if anyone notices - when it comes to making the right decision for managing web content, it's often a lot easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Develop a Maintenance Plan

A good way to avoid this problem arising is to develop a maintenance plan, whereby you agree with the business owners for a section of a web site as to how often content will be reviewed and updated and by whom.

The business owner actually signs off on the agreement, and then, if they're not holding up their end of the agreement, it is a lot easier to be empowered to make decisions about cutting content.

As a side note, try clicking on the company logo or the "Home" link in the top navigation to get back to the main Advocate home page. No luck? For some reason, both take you back the Careers home page and it is the little "Advocate" in the bread crumb trail that takes you to the main home page. As to why have they chosen to disregard this navigation rule of thumb, I have no idea.

Update: I noticed that the News section on the Careers page has now been updated. However, I would have expected that the News would be about Careers-related things, not just general news.

Why someone who is looking for a job would suddenly want to go off and read some unrelated content is beyond me.

Anyway, I'm going to shut up now as I generally don't like being so negative (even in a - hopefully - constructive way); and I'm well aware of the pressures on web teams from elsewhere in the organization that can lead to less-than-ideal things happening to the web site.

Posted on: March 23, 2005 | No comments

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