University Web Developers

University Web Developers

We have the situation on our campus where each department has their own website.  Each department then is required to have a full-time staff member that has a responsibility to update their website with fresh content.  The problem is that those staff members can't/won't/choose not too do that.  We can't get them to buy-in to the importance of updating the content, showing events, news, etc.  

I was wondering if anyone else has that issue and how have you dealt with it? Are there incentives that have worked? Do you get rid of that model and put all content under the marketing department?  

Views: 167

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Everyone has this problem in some capacity, for the most part. The big problem here is one of a philosophical nature - you can lead a horse to water and all that. The trick is, you simply cannot assume every department has that one magical person that cares and will be awesome. To put it simply, I just do not believe in the long term viability of our decentralized models, especially as our sites and functionality get more complex, and user expectations become more refined. You have to have a web content editor-in-chief type person that overseas and coordinates content for the departments with a small team of centralized editors. The alternative is what you have now: inconsistent layout/voice/writing/information at best, unusable sites at worst.

Watch .eduGuru next week, I'm literally in the middle of an article on this exact subject. It will go on at some more length on my thoughts.

When it's centralized, how do you handle news within those departments then?  We've even had trouble where a faculty member changes departments and nothing gets noted, even the school directory.  If they don't care enough to note to someone that a faculty member has moved, if one of our writes asks "What's new?" I'm not confident they'll care/know.  

Regardless, that's not a problem solved by giving them content control of their site. If they don't take the time to tell whomever updates your directory that there are staffing changes, why would they go through the effort to maintain their sites - something substantially more detail oriented and labor intensive? This is all a workflow problem, and you have to address that first and foremost.

Here, we have two PR people each assigned to two colleges. Every month they sit in on the respective school's departmental chair meetings and just listen to whats being discussed, and keep an ear open for something that might be newsworthy. If they don't hear anything, then they engage the chairs and ask questions designed to dig up something. Journalism, and all that. In your example, you already don't have confidence that they know/care about that, so clearly giving them content control doesn't solve the problem.

It's our PR department's job to worry about the news, and communicate an open line between departments/colleges, and them. The academic folks, generally speaking, simply don't have the skill to write news for broad audiences. They write academically. Would you have them shoot their own commercials, too?

In cases where I get pushback on such models, my solution is simple. Flexibility. I challenge the department. I give them an opportunity to show me that they can truly write their stuff in a way that makes sense, honors the proper voice, and that they can maintain it, then I'm fine considering giving them that access. I lay out all the guidelines and expectations, and I push them. So far, the number of areas that have managed it: 0.

This is our single biggest issue at Southwestern, particularly with academic departments. We've had a decentralized content management strategy since 2008. The primary incentive we give our full-time web admin in each department (full-time in the sense that they are full-time employees, not that they spend all their time on the website) was to get our Provost to approve a committee release for each. So, in exchange for working on their department website, each faculty web admin. receives one less committee assignment for the year/s they serve. Secondly, our Provost now heads a "web presence committee" that studies best practices, reviews department websites with web administrators, and makes suggestions on how to improve their websites without directly critiquing the work of the web admins.

Now this is a new strategy that has only been in place since last summer, so we don't yet know how well it will work in the long term. But early reports from faculty on the committee suggest that peer review (led by the dean of our faculty) is the right approach. Our job, as administrators, was simply to convince the Provost that the web was important enough that there had to be a pro-active process in place to engage faculty. And frankly, to help them see the self-interest that is served by maintaining healthy web presences (recruiting students that help fill seats in their classrooms).

We'll see if it works in the long run, but I'm encouraged when faculty start to see the value in policing themselves.

We pretty well have the same situation, but with one addition: me. A big chunk of my job is to keep on top of the individual departments' web sites and ping the editors when I see something that needs attention. I review each departmental site annually and provide a report detailing broken links, out of date content and a summary of the site's use statistics. Throughout the year, I recommend news articles and events for them to borrow over from other sites (we're all in the same CMS which makes that easy), and point out other good practices for them to emulate. Note that  I do not change anything on any department site unless I have discussed it with the site editor and gotten their blessing.

I really think the attention helps. Just letting the editors know that folks are out there using the website, that someone cares what it looks like and what content is out there is a huge boost. We're trying to change the mindset and get departments to take ownership and have some sort of pride in that ownership. Change is slow, but most of our department sites are much better than they have been. 

RSS

Elsewhere

Latest Activity

Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Think it’s impossible to redesign an .edu site and make it responsive in just 6 months? University of Texas at Tyler did just that! Get the scoop on our blog. "
5 hours ago
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"The OmniUpdate family is growing yet again – welcome Austin Peay State University! "
Aug 19
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Whether you’re a brand-new or seasoned user in OU Campus, we’ve got tips to help you save time! Check out today's blog post. "
Aug 17
Sarah Gagne posted a discussion

Is anyone using Concrete5 as their CMS?

Hi,We're currently evaluating two content management systems - Drupal and Concrete5. We're very familiar with Drupal and also like the appeal of Concrete5, but know that Concrete5 isn't widely used. Is anyone here using Concrete5? I'd greatly appreciate any insight that can be shared.Thanks so much!Sarah GagneThe Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical PracticeSee More
Aug 17
Profile IconPaul Stokstad and Michael E Matzkin joined University Web Developers
Aug 15
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn about 3 key areas of SEO and how you can help increase your website’s visibility in today’s blog post! "
Aug 9
Rachel DeLauder posted a discussion

Researching web content governance in higher ed

NewCity (a web design agency that specializes in higher ed) is doing some research on how web teams at higher ed institutions manage their websites. We want to find out what works for real situations and real people. We’re asking our previous clients and contacts in higher ed to consider participating, and we'll share the results so that we can all (anonymously) learn from each other. Feedback could also end up in a presentation of…See More
Aug 9
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We’ve got another new customer in the house… Welcome Marquette University! "
Aug 5
Profile IconMichelle Hay, David White, Sarah Gagne and 1 more joined University Web Developers
Aug 5
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn about the Post-Op, Preventive Care, and Pre-Op phases of a website redesign in today’s blog post and avoid the “dreaded swoop and poop!” "
Aug 3
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Did you know your website’s user experience can impact your marketing efforts? Learn how to assess UX and make it a top priority in today's blog post! "
Jul 20
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We welcome our friends at Kentucky Community & Technical College System to the OmniUpdate family! "
Jul 19
Profile IconPaul Paire and Amy M Andrade joined University Web Developers
Jul 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Spelling errors, broken links, weak SEO, and accessibility issues can negatively affect your site visitors’ user experience. Learn how OU Insights continually monitors these areas and helps keep visitors on your site in today's blog post! "
Jul 13
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Giving a warm SoCal welcome to our newest family member, Chabot-Las Positas Community College District! "
Jul 12
Bryce Anderson is now a member of University Web Developers
Jul 12
Profile IconJeannette Modic and Lisa Jones joined University Web Developers
Jul 11
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Are you meeting the high expectations of your technologically savvy site visitors? Found out how to elevate their user experience by focusing on six key areas in today's blog post. "
Jul 7
Cathy Wooten is now a member of University Web Developers
Jul 6
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Train 300+ content contributors after not one, but two website redesigns? No problem! Discover University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s recipe for success in today's blog post. "
Jun 29

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic

About

© 2016   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service