Your goal statement will be the guiding principal on which your site is built. It will determine what you say and how you say it.
When your department discusses updating your site, you're probably talking about attention-getting features, or you're inspired by the cool digital functions you see on other university web pages. But those things can't be your starting point.
Among your first tasks is figuring out what you want your site to do. That means developing a goal statement.
If you think of your website as a tree, the goal statement is the root system. It's not something that will appear on the site, but it will be the foundation from which everything else grows.
A good goal statement is clear, concise, and as specific as possible. It should state what you want to accomplish, and those objectives should be actionable and measurable. In other words:
Mason's core site goal is to get more students to apply to and come to the university.
- Action users can take: Apply to Mason.
- Measure of success: An increase in applications/enrollment.
Some departments will have several objectives in their goal statements. Here's an example from the Research department:
"The Research website will connect Mason faculty, staff and students to university resources, connect potential and existing funding agencies and partners to Mason, and connect researchers to each other by highlighting research opportunities, research expertise, news, and events."
You'll probably want to work on your goal statement in conjunction with determining your primary and secondary audiences. Tailor your goals to make sure the site is effective in attracting the users you want, and inspiring them to act.
If you have trouble getting started, try a "Mad-Lib" exercise:
The goal of this site is to __________, __________, and _________, by doing __________, ________, and ________.