Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Recently in Web Content Editors Category

Web content writer and more... Will you do this for $45,000 per year?

Here's another entry to my collection of job descriptions (and sometimes salary) for positions like this.


This individual will:

This position requires:

  • the ability to write and present information in a clear and compelling manner for the school's target audiences
  • strong attention to detail to ensure accurate application of policies and practices
  • proficiency in using content management systems
  • strong collaborative skills

This person will also collaborate closely with University Communications on projects that communicate and promote our brand.


  • Write and edit compelling, accurate and information-rich content in our content management system for our websites and email campaigns.
  • Work closely with the school's 26 academic departments to research, develop and write content for their web presences.
  • Write compelling, timely stories that resonate with the prioritized audiences identified in our business case and that advance the reputation of the school.
  • Coordinate the inclusion of dynamic multimedia content across the school's web presence, with emphasis on the homepage.
  • Edit the school's websites to ensure consistency, accuracy, readability and appropriateness of style.
  • Work closely with our faculty to write and edit faculty professional summaries.
  • Identify opportunities to leverage non-text media (audio, photo, video, interactive media) in school websites.
  • Maintain the master editorial content calendar.



  • Thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of grammar, syntax, style and punctuation; meticulous copyediting and proofreading skills.
  • Demonstrated skills in writing, editing and effective communication with a variety of constituencies.
  • Writing for the web.
  • User-centered web content development and a strong instinct for usability and effective content organization.
  • HTML markup language for formatting and styling web content.


  • Mastery of at least one content management system.
  • Basic image editing skills.


  • Outstanding web writing, editing and proofreading skills, with meticulous attention to detail.
  • Strong interpersonal communication, diplomacy and relationship-building skills to establish and maintain effective working partnerships with internal clients and other staff members.
  • Ability be flexible and to work both independently and collaboratively on multiple projects as part of a tightly-knit team that includes a content strategist, information architect, other writers, a photographer and a user experience expert.
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills: demonstrated ability to effectively organize, prioritize and manage a high volume of assignments, with frequent interruptions, to complete tasks in a timely manner.
  • Ability to organize multiple layers of copy and maintain consistency in voice, brand and site architecture.
  • Ability to think creatively and strategically.
  • Ability to produce consistently, learn rapidly and keep pace with other team members.
  • Ability to make good judgment calls in a complex environment.

Education and Experience

  • Bachelor's degree in marketing, communications, creative writing, public relations or similar field.
  • Three or more years' experience in writing and editing web content.
  • Work experience in a higher education environment a plus.

Reporting Relationship

This position will report to the Director for Strategic Digital Communications.

Functional Relationships

This individual will work cooperatively and creatively with the rest of the Office of Communications professionals in order to produce high-quality and targeted web content. This individual will work frequently with staff in affiliated hospitals and staff and faculty within the medical school.

Appointment, Salary and Benefits

This is a full-time (40 hours/week) salaried position. The salary is $45,000 annually.

Detailed benefit information is available on the UB Foundation website.


Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Submit your resume, cover letter and links to three examples of online content you have produced to the SMBS Office of Communications.

Web content creation... centralize or decentralize?

Last month I was working with a university to review their web management policies and practices and recommend changes consistent with their resources, both human and fiscal. A key question was whether or not to move back to a more centralized content system for content creation and publishing. 

Searching for background information at the start of the project, I visited several university sites to see what was available online. The answer: not much. A strong exception turned up at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, where there is a very clear website presentation of their "Web Content Management" policies and practices.

Last year we did a Customer Carewords survey for Sacred Heart to find out how well people (current and future students, alumni, and faculty and staff) using the website liked the experience. The response was unusually positive for the accuracy and completeness of the content and the clarity of the language used to present it.

Learning from Nancy Boudreau at Sacred Heart University

I asked Nancy Boudreau, director of web content management at Sacred Heart, to share her thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of centralized vs. decentralized content management in the four questions below. 

A very big "thank you" to Nancy for taking the time to do this.

Q. When universities first started to adopt Content Management Systems (CMS), one goal was to move to decentralized content publishing. Today, there is more talk about the value of centralized content creation. Have you been following that discussion? What's your own experience been?

Yes, I've been following the centralized vs. decentralized discussions with much interest. 

We went from centralized to decentralized about 7 years ago with some success. We had just redesigned the website and implemented a new content management system. With limited web staffing and resources, it seemed like a good time to give it a try. It definitely has its pros - no bottleneck to get things posted, ability to make minor edits on your own quickly. It also had its cons - pages published with typos, grammatical errors, duplicate information, content just copied and pasted from print materials without being "webified'.

Q. What lessons have you learned from your first effort to decentralize content creation?

With our last CMS rollout, we assigned a web liaison for each department allowing them to publish edits/additions to their web pages. We provided group training on the CMS, gave everyone a user guide, provided refresher courses and one-on-one training as necessary. We also provide telephone and email support. In addition, we hosted some "writing right for the web" webinars.

With our upcoming redesign and new CMS implementation, we're seeking a more balanced approached. While we will continue to train departments on the CMS to make their own basic edits and offer web writing instruction, we need to have some sort of review process and systems in place to remind web editors to review and edit their content at regular intervals. How are we going to do this? Well, we're still working out the details but our CMS will be able to help automate some of that process.

Q. What's the major obstacle to an effective decentralized publishing system?

The pendulum is swinging back in the direction of centralized content editing but not because universities don't have a CMS or that the CMS isn't being used to its fullest potential. 

The biggest obstacle to decentralized publishing is ensuring the quality of content. Web content isn't just about updating some event dates, adding course descriptions or editing program pages. It's about marketing your university's academics and culture and creating a unified brand and message. It requires writing engaging, search engine optimized content, and that takes time and practice. And thanks to people like you, the message is getting out that a website isn't just about pretty pictures and typography - it's about THE CONTENT.

Q. I loved the idea of 2-hour website boot camps described on your website. How have those worked?

As far as our website boot camps, yes they have been very successful. We get departments to focus on their processes, procedures and top user tasks. Then we look at their web pages to see if those process and tasks are represented in the most user friendly way. There are a lot of "ah ha" moments as we look through sites and rearrange or edit content to make it more user friendly. 

The downside to these boot camps is they do take lot of time so they're not always practical. We do a lot of pre-work before we meet with the department, such as reviewing the current site as well as similar sites for best practices so that we arrive at the meeting with some actionable items. During the 2 hour boot camp, we make edits on the spot and create an action plan for content that is more involved and needs to be developed. By the end of the meeting, everyone leaves feeling like they've accomplished something. 

That's all for now. 

Join me on Twitter at

Subscribe to "Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter" and "Link of the Week" selections at

New "Writing Right for the Web" Conference in May

My second 2-day "Writing Right for the Web" conference is happening May 24-25 in Atlanta. We'll explore in depth not only "writing right" on traditional websites, but for social media and mobile sites as well. 

People are coming from as far away as Hawaii and Egypt.

Check the conference details and register to join us in May.

Web Content Editor... do you have a position like this on your campus?

Web content editor positions continue to spread throughout higher education, but many schools have not yet been able to add one. At others, the position is not yet higher in the employment hierarchy. Online higher education marketing will benefit as these positions develop in responsibility and seniority. 

This latest posting from Radford University in Virginia illustrates the wide range of talent that is often included in searches like this. In reality, the final choice of an applicant will give priority to some of these skills more than others. But in the initial posting, it isn't unusual to dream.

If you'd like to apply for the position (full title: Web Content Editor and New Media Specialist) start at the "jobs.radford" website and click on the red link for administrative and professional positions.

Alas, the position listing does not include a salary range but only the vague and unsatisfactory "commensurate with experience" phrase. From what you'll read here, you'll likely agree that this is not an entry level position.

Job Experience

"Work closely with content creators, functional area representatives, and other clients to identify web communications opportunities and develop appropriate strategies to reach targeted audiences. Develop and produce web content, including editorial content and graphic design elements that may be used on the website or on social media outlets. Work with clients to ensure online communication channels are engaging, current, interactive and consistent. Write, proofread, and edit text for websites. Provide training and guidance for web content authors. Ensure that all documents and images meet established content standards; work with developers to assess and meet any technical challenges in displaying content. Design and maintain site information architecture, navigational structure, user interface, visual design and graphics."

Required Qualifications

"The successful candidate must possess experience writing/editing web content or equivalent; experience with graphic or web design, proficiency with web development tools and technology; experience/skill in handling large-scale projects; understanding of the broad skill areas that support Web site development such as editorial, art, technical, QA, and integration; strong organizational skills and attention to detail; excellent verbal and written communication skills; ability to work well in a high-performance team environment under deadline pressure; and experience with the Adobe Creative Suite, particularly Adobe Photoshop."

Preferred Qualifications

Experience developing and maintaining web content for complex websites in a higher education environment is preferred.

Experience working in or designing for a content management system is preferred.

Experience working in social media is preferred.

Basic HTML tagging experience is preferred.

Proficiency with Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator preferred.

Knowledge of search engine optimization principles preferred.


"A master's degree in Journalism, English, Communications, marketing or related field or Bachelor's degree with strong editorial skills with some combination of equivalent relevant experience is required."

New "Writing Right for the Web" Conference in May

The second 2-day "Writing Right for the Web" conference is happening May 24-25 in Atlanta. We'll explore in depth not only "writing right" on traditional websites, but for social media and mobile sites as well.

People are registered from Hawaii to Long Island. Join us from wherever you are in the world.

That's all for now. 

Join me on Twitter at

Subscribe to "Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter" and "Link of the Week" emails at

Content challenges for both traditional and mobile websites

Just finished updating the second "Writing Right for the Web" webinar next week, focusing on social media and mobile content. That had me back reading the questions sent along a few weeks ago by people already signed up for the sessions. Two of those were content related; the answers apply to both traditional and mobile websites.

If you missed the earlier post on these questions, here is the question people answered:
  • "What is your most pressing challenge or area of concern when writing for and presenting content on" a traditional website and for social media and mobile sites?
Two of the challenges reported were related to content:
  • "Understanding how best to develop content pertinent to all audiences and optimize for search."
  • "Translating messaging from offline publications and communications to a style that is optimal for online readers."
And here are some notes on how to best deal with these related issues. Which ones will be of most help on various campuses will vary, based in part on local talent and understanding of what works online, politics, and available staff time.

Developing the best content
  • Start by asking each audience to identify the top tasks that are most important to them. Then let the answers to that search be your guide to priority content placement on first and second level web pages. That means surrendering considerable control of your website to your key audiences. Not many are yet willing to do that.
  • How to find out what your audiences want from your website? Hire Customer Carewords research or read a guide from the U.S. Government and do it yourself. 
  • The most important point: do this research before your next major website revision begins. Don't rely on usability tests after you have the initial design in place. Usability testing and top task research are not the same thing. Start with the right information in hand. Planning a mobile site? Identify top tasks before you do anything else. Those are the links that people should see first when your mobile home page opens.
  • Beware of marketers. It pains me to write this, but I have to agree with my Carewords partner from Sweden, Fredrik Wacka, that the marketing impulse can hinder and even destroy the effectiveness of your website. Very few people come to a higher education website (or most any website) to read marketing content. Too often that content takes precedence over top task content and creates a barrier to top task completion. When that happens, people will leave your site. 
  • The imperative to reduce marketing content is more important on your mobile site, where you have even less time to connect with your audience. Best way to boost your brand at your website: make top task completion easy.
Translating from offline publications
  • Resist the impulse to slap content on your website as a PDF or "flip tech" copy of your printed publications. The more important the content, the more important it is to take the time to prepare a "web friendly" version that people might actually read online. That's true for admissions view books, alumni magazines, transfer guides, academic program brochures and just about anything else I can think of.
  • Next, make sure the web content conforms to usability tested guidelines for content presentation.
    • Use subhead that people can immediately scan when a page opens. Long, dense blocks of text are deadly.
    • No paragraph longer than 5 lines. 
    • Use short sentences. If you find yourself using a semi-colon your sentence is likely getting too long.
    • Use short words used by normal human beings as often as possible. Yes, if you're writing about research in a discipline for others trained in the discipline you can take liberties.
    • Don't be afraid of the "you" word. The web is an informal place. Get bureaucratic writing filled with imperatives that "students must do" out of the content. Check this "Admission Requirements" page at St. Edward's University where you find "you" or "your" used 12 times. Also note the short paragraphs and white space between them.
Alertbox reports on web writing

Jakob Nielsen has 15+ years of experience testing how people use websites. Take advantage of this by subscribing (for free) to his of Alertbox newsletters. Be sure to read the series on web writing. Send these to everyone on campus you think might pay attention to them.

Writing Right for the Web next week... solving more challenges

Join us on December 6 & December 8 for "Writing Right for the Web"
  • Review what we'll cover for traditional websites as well as the social media and mobile worlds in the Academic Impressions webinar outline.
  • Register and invite everyone who might be interested.
That's all for now.

Mobile Marketing in Higher Education: notes from summer conferences

Mobile marketing is still on my brain after my flight back from San Antonio and eduWeb11 yesterday. Before various random thoughts disappear, several things come to mind after mobile sessions at ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, Carol Aslanian's graduate recruitment conference, and eduWeb.

Mobile apps vs. mobile websites: no longer the first question asked
  • Mobile apps or mobiles websites: when I started doing mobile marketing workshops in 2010, this was the most common question. Today, it doesn't rank nearly as high. In my pre-conference workshop and in several mobile presentations at eduWeb this year, the emphasis is on the benefits of investing in a mobile website.
  • The rapid and continuing rise of Android phones has played a major role in this. Apple's advertising bombardment re "There's an app for that..." fueled the first wave of interest in "we've got to have one of those or the cool kids won't think we're cool" mania. Apps still have a role in online marketing, but the need to do at least two separate apps for Androids and iPhones brought some new reality into the cost of it all. 
QR codes: expanding use but beware of taking people to a regular website page
  • More people already are using these than expected, from advertisements to view books to signs on the front of campus buildings. As expected, use rate is low. Here in the U.S. most people don't yet have smartphones (about 35 percent according to Pew Internet) and most of those don't yet have QR code readers. So this is a great time to start exploring. Use of QR code readers will increase. But how fast it will increase isn't clear. Watch to see if QR readers are included on the iPhone5 this fall.
  • If you do add QR codes to advertising, for heaven's sake make sure that people who do use them don't end up on a regular website page where no engagement point is immediately visible. If you force people to "finger flick" to see what's on your landing page, your conversion will decrease. Guaranteed.
Content Migration, Top Tasks and Mobile: Potential Huge Management Issue
  • Be honest: at least 50 percent of the content on the website of any large organization including higher education isn't needed. Website content is often added, seldom removed. 
  • The holy grail for "mobile" is creation of a single website that people can use equally well from a smartphone or a laptop or desktop computer. Is that really possible? Maybe, but not if you try to stuff everything from your "regular" website into a mobile environment. "Mobile" is a great reason to kill content that's been around for far too long and adopt a new focus on the "top tasks" that people using sites actually want to do. 
Writing Right for the Web: Even More Important Now
  • Jakob Nielsen got it right in a recent Alertbox: for mobile, "short is too long."
  • Mobile will increase the value of web content editors. Not only do we have to focus on top tasks, we also have to reduce how much we say about them and do an even better job of using subheads and bullet points to break up dense blocks of text.
Presentations on Mobile Marketing
That's all for now.

Bob Johnson
Blog Contents
Recent Entries Categories Monthly Archives