Spotlights are promotional features that web content managers create to showcase and guide users toward pieces of related content. The related content may live on web pages on your website. It may also be content that lives on other websites. Spotlights don’t necessarily have to direct users to content within your website, but it is recommended to encourage visitors to explore deeper layers and commit visitors to staying longer on the site. Loyola University New Orleans offers several ways to spotlight your content through video, features, news stories, fast facts, quotes, photos with captions, and link lists.

Using spotlights effectively

Spotlights are made to be updated and changed frequently and easily. Users won’t keep coming back for information unless they see information that’s up to date and regularly changed out. The Office of Web Communications built spotlights with web content managers in mind, so that content managers could easily add graphics onto a web page without the need to request work from the Office of Web Communications each and every time.

Spotlights are a good way to “fill out” a page that may otherwise be graphically sparse or unexciting. Incorporating pictures, video, and other graphical elements into your content gives visitors various ways to dig deeper into your content. Using spotlights on your page is an easy way to do that. Find out more about each individual type of spotlight in the list below:

1. Video Spotlight: This type of spotlight allows small videos to be played in the right column of your web page. Videos are hosted on Loyola’s Vimeo channel (www.vimeo.com/loyno), but can be played on your page, without requiring the user to go anywhere else to view the video. Users can double-click on the video to view full-screen on their monitor. The ideal use for the video spotlight is for small testimonials or other videos containing quick snippets of information. Loyola does not supply video production for departments or offices. So any videos posted on the Loyola Vimeo channel must be produced by a member of the department/office or a third-party contractor. Video spotlights are small (at 220 pixels wide), so the videos featured here should be completely legible and comprehensible at a smaller size. Longer videos or those that would best be viewed at a larger size should be embedded into the content of the page and not as a video feature spotlight.

2. Feature Spotlight: Ideal use of this spotlight is to promote programs, events, deadlines for applications, and website content that may have a time element attached. The feature spotlight is used to promote new or important web content, and direct users to web pages about the item. The feature spotlight’s headline is limited to 28 characters, and the description is limited to 80 characters. The photo is limited to 192 x 175 pixels.

3. News Story Spotlight: Used to promote new or important items throughout your site, particularly student, faculty, or alumni successes; press releases found in the University Newsroom about your department or office; or a web page on your website that features additional information about content included in your spotlight. The news story spotlight’s headline is limited to 28 characters, and the description is limited to 200 characters. The photo is limited to 75 x 75 pixels.

4. Fast Facts: Used to display short facts or blurbs about your department or office. The web team recommends using numerical figures for impact. The fast facts use “slider” functionality, which allows the user to slide between panes of facts by clicking on the next circle at the top of the pane. Each pane has five-six facts. There is a maximum of 20 fast facts displaying at any one time.

5. Quote: Gathering quotes from students, faculty, or alumni of your department or office can help tell the story of the services you or your department offer, providing users a tangible face and name to the story. Quotes may be displayed with or without a photo of the person. We recommend quotes be no longer than two brief sentences. If a photo is used, we recommend a close-up shot of the individual quoted. Photographs should be professional quality, meaning they should be in color and in focus. Quotes always should be from real people, preferably someone who has directly benefited from your department or offices’ services or programs. The photo is limited to 220 x 220 pixels.

6. Generic Photo: Can be displayed with or without captions. Generic photos can be used to display anything from general facilities/campus shots to photos of top administrators and successful events. When a caption is used, the subject of the photo should be adequately described to provide context to the photo. The photo is limited to 220 x 220 pixels.

7. Link List/Contact Information: The link list/contact spotlight can be used to list pertinent links, display contact information, or just highlight important notes that are relevant to the page where it’s displayed. What is the difference between link lists and link blocks on a page? Link lists are displayed in the right column of your webpage and are thus less directly related to the content in the main body of your webpage. Therefore, link lists should refer to links found in outside resources and will take you to web pages not hosted on the Loyola server. On the other hand, because link blocks are displayed in the main body of your web page, they should refer to links directly related to content in the main body of your website with deeper links within your own website or links to other Loyola resources.

How are spotlights different from other content on my website?

Web sites are made up of a collection of web pages. Spotlights are just one piece of content that can go on any page on your website. Spotlights act independently from the pages in which they appear. The spotlight only has to be created once. After a spotlight is created, a website’s content manager can edit any page on the website and select the spotlight to appear on that single page without it being forced to appear on the entire website.

How many spotlights can I add to my website?

You can add as many spotlights to your website as you feel necessary, but only one of each type to a page. The Office of Web Communications recommends that the number of spotlights on one page not exceed the length of content on the page. For example, if you have two paragraphs of content on a page, you should probably not have six spotlights on the page because the list of spotlights on the page will be much longer than the content and force the user to continue scrolling down the page simply to look at the spotlights. Always keep in mind that the user is visiting your web page to read the content in body of the page, not necessarily expecting to find the additional information referred to in your spotlights so you don’t want to overwhelm them. A good rule of thumb here is “less is more.”

How do spotlights know where to appear on the web page?

Your website has been pre-programmed to know where each piece of content you create should go. Official Loyola university websites have seven primary types of spotlights a content manager can add to any web page on your website. Earlier in this post, I described each type of spotlight and its primary use. The list is ordered in the hierarchy that is applied to spotlights on your web site. An example might be, if you have a video, a feature, and a fast facts spotlight all promoted on the same web page, the website will tell the video spotlight to always show up above the feature spotlight and the fast facts spotlight to appear below the feature spotlight.

How long should I keep a spotlight on my website?

It’s a good habit to update content on your website at least once a week, if not every day if you have the time. Spotlights are no different. When the information is no longer timely or relevant, you should change it out. We also recommend for web content managers to regularly log into your website, click “View All Content” and sort the list by spotlight and deleting any spotlights that you don’t plan on using again in the future. By doing this, you will clean up the files your website’s directory and allow for more available space on Loyola University New Orleans’ servers.

I hope this explanation provides more clarity on what spotlights are and how they should be used. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Office of Web Communications at webteam@loyno.edu or download our complete guide to spotlights.

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