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Website Bytes: A Firmer Focus on Financial Capability

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

Earlier this month, I told the story of how website content managers in Family Development worked hard reorganize the University of Minnesota Extension Farm to School website section. This week, the story I have for you is about the Financial Capability website section, formerly titled “Personal Finance.”

To recap, as website coordinator of the core FD web team, I had the pleasure of walking alongside content managers as they tackled these projects. These reorganizations had two things in common that helped guide their work to completion:
  • Dedicated and knowledgeable content managers. 
  • A goal to better serve users. 
To learn more about the twists and turns of the financial capability journey, read on.

The Winds of Change

An astute web user will notice that the “new” financial capability website has a familiar URL: The Personal Finance website section began its transformation when the end-user-focused Live Healthy, Live Well (LHLW) website section launched in 2014.

screenshot of 2014 version of the Live Healthy, Live Well home page
So fresh.

With the help of Sharon Powell, Extension educator in family resiliency, I began transitioning content such as Checking Your Credit Report and Cash-Based Payment Options: What's Right for You? to the Healthy Wallets section. The goal was to group like content together. Provider-focused content would remain on the Personal Finance website section and end user-focused content would move to Healthy Wallets.

screenshot of current Healthy Wallets website section
Rejected titles: "Healthy Finances," "Healthy Assets"

Meanwhile, Family Resiliency educators began talking about their work in a different way. “Financial capability” or “financial empowerment” was the focus of their efforts, and “personal finance” no longer fit the scope of the content on the same-named website section.

A Business Plan Drives Content Strategy

This summer, Mary Jo Katras, program leader in family resiliency, and Sharon developed a content strategy for a revised financial capability website section (UMN login required). For those of you who labored over business plans last winter, take note: This strategy flowed effortlessly from the Financial Empowerment/Financial Capability program business plan (FD staff login required).

screenshot of financial capability content strategy
Make my day and ask me how I put this map together.

“The development of the business plan provided our team of family resiliency educators an opportunity to take a step back and look at our collective body of work in the area of financial capability,” Mary Jo said. “It gave us a ‘map’ to help guide our decisions on how to make our work more accessible to Minnesota families and communities and our community partners.” As such, this map also helped guide decisions about making online content more accessible to Minnesota families and communities, as well as community partners.

This content strategy integrates decisions Mary Jo and Sharon had made about the main themes of financial capability content earlier that summer, as well as the website maintenance plan they’d written two years ago when they started their roles as content managers for the Personal Finance website section. The strategy also outlines key messages and audiences. With this strategy in hand, revising web pages for a consistent user experience was a snap.

Revising the approximately 100 web pages falling under the financial capability umbrella was one big change. The other big change was the organization of Family Resiliency's Financial Capability offerings into logical themes. Whereas the Personal Finance website section had nine links on the homepage titled by curriculum or workshop title, the Financial Capability section features four links that group offerings by theme.

screenshot of current financial capability homepage
See what we did there?

The website section’s size has remained about the same, but the organization now has a rhyme and reason.

And fun fact! One subsection is explicitly organized by the levels of the Spectrum of Prevention. See if you can find it.

Next Steps

Because these website sections are on Extension's public website, all the web pages therein are subject to rewriting and relinking as part of Extension’s larger website project. Whatever the outcome of the larger website project, however, reorganization of the Farm to School and Financial Capability web pages this past summer provides a solid foundation for future iterations of their now user-focused, neatly organized content.

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