The big benefits of using software like Clean Catalog to build your academic catalog — having an accessible web-based catalog, and a time-saving project-management system — are the main reasons most colleges digitize their catalog. But in our work with colleges, we’ve noticed a few secondary benefits that make life easier for everyone involved with the catalog.
1. Fewer consistency errors
Let’s say your ACCT 101 class changes from 3 credits to 4 credits. Sometimes it’s easy enough to find and replace in a Word document, but what if it’s already laid out in InDesign, and the layout prevents a find and replace? Making the change manually is tedious, and it’s easy to miss a few.
With Clean Catalog, there’s a single source of data for everything, so there’s one easy place to change the number of credits for a class — or any other piece of data — and that will change it anywhere it’s used throughout the catalog. This keeps everything consistent, and makes it quick and easy to make changes.
2. No math skills needed
One of the most tedious tasks in assembling a catalog is figuring out and checking the total number of credits for each degree and certificate. It’s easy enough to find the totals, but when you’re doing it for dozens or even hundreds of degrees and certificates it can be easy for addition mistakes to slip in. With Clean Catalog, all the math is done for you, so you can be sure that it’s always accurate, and you never have to punch the numbers into a calculator yourself.
3. Easy revision tracking and reversions
When you’re working with text documents, it can be easy to accidentally change something and not be able to undo it. With Clean Catalog, every change is saved, and revisions are easy to access, so you don’t have to ever worry about tracking down an old version of a file on a backup server somewhere.
4. Not having to say things like “see page 132, section 3”
No matter how well-structured your catalog is, you’ll likely have to refer readers to another section for more information — an academic policy might refer people to a degree, or a class might refer people to a related class not in the same section. Writing something like “see page 132 for more information” is easy enough at the time, but if it happens a few times, and then the document flow changes when another section is inserted, it can be a big hassle to check.
Linking from one page to another is obviously the sort of thing webpages were built for, and with Clean Catalog we have checks in place to make sure those links never break. And, even better, you can break your content into small enough chunks so that you don’t have to ask users to dig through a huge page to find what you’re referring to.
5. SEO Boost
Quality content is one of the biggest factors in getting your site to rank highly in search results — and catalog pages are about as quality as it gets. Unfortunately, if your content is buried in a PDF, it won’t get indexed by Google or other search engines. But if you move it all to webpages on your URL — e.g., catalog.yourcollege.edu — all that quality content will contribute to your search presence.
So, for example, when someone searches for “Accounting classes near me,” Google and other search engines won’t just consider the accounting page on your main website, but they’ll also now consider all the accounting pages on your catalog — your course descriptions, your degree descriptions, and so on. This isn’t always an SEO silver bullet, but it can be a key part of improving your college’s search presence.