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

Lauren Zakich commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Jim Heiney from Lock Haven University shares his advice on how an editorial calendar can help keep your web content up to date and engaging in today’s blog post.  "
Thursday
Lauren Zakich commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We have a new addition to our OmniUpdate family. Welcome, Cerritos College! "
Wednesday
Lauren Zakich commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Emergency Alerts for OU Campus allows you to communicate with students, staff, and the community with custom website announcements. When time matters most, make sure your website is the go-to place for info."
Tuesday
Neil Joellenbeck replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"This is the first time I have been here in a long time. Selfishly, I would hope that you would be able to continue the site, but I understand realities. As I re-acquaint myself, I'm seeing a lot of value in what you have tirelessly built.…"
Sep 16
Gareth J M Saunders replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"Hi Mark, in line with many others who have posted, first a big thank you for providing this resource for so many years. I was a keen reader of it and occasional poster a good few years ago. And I loved my Website Hero mug until I dropped it and had…"
Sep 15
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Have you heard about our new UX Feedback Program? Your input can directly affect the future of OU Campus! Learn more in today's blog post. "
Sep 14
Lauren Zakich joined Lynn Zawie's group
Thumbnail

OmniUpdate

Share your experiences using OmniUpdate CMS
Sep 13
Genevieve Howard replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"I want to chime in along with the others in thanking you for being a leader in our niche group! I appreciate your effort. I lean toward LinkedIn. "
Sep 13
A. Watson replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"I was a recent addition and did not find too much activity here that I could leverage but LinkedIn does seem to be the logical destination.  Perhaps there is interest here and you can crowd source the migration. Migrating the content could…"
Sep 13
Eloine Chapman replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"I would be very sorry to see this resource go. I am just a one person shop at my college and feel quite a alone as far as anyone understanding the complexity of what I do. It's a wonderful thing to see people facing the same challenges I face…"
Sep 13
Christopher Spires replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"I wouldn't feel necessary to stick with Ning if the cost isn't a burden. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack are all satisfactory options in my opinion. Slack is a great option for more instant communication, and you'll probably find a lot…"
Sep 13
Mark Lawrence replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"Thank you Mark, this has been an invaluable resource - particularly for seeing how our cohorts at other institutions approach the problems we all face. But, as many people have said today, I haven't visited in a while. I think that's…"
Sep 13
Charlie Lindahl replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"Ah. Thank you. I've just sent a request to have TAMU.EDU added to the list."
Sep 13
Laurie Trow replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"Is this for the Slack? If so, you need to email leta@berkeley.edu to have your edu domain added."
Sep 13
Hugh Jarvis replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"Regardless of where this goes, Mark, thanks for setting it up and running it all these years! I find it quite useful myself, lurking mostly, but occasionally joining in where it might help us, or I might be able to provide value. I like having this…"
Sep 13
Charlie Lindahl replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"OK, I give up. I am at Texas A&M, and @tamu.edu is not listed among those allowed to create userids. Can someone either (1) add TAMU.EDU or (2) send me an invitation to uwebd slack? (clindahl@tamhsc.edu). Thanks, Charlie"
Sep 13
Jay Massey replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"Mark, I agree that the paid Ning site may have outlived its usefulness in light of other group media apps. Like many have stated, Slack and FaceBook / LinkedIn groups. are good options. Slack may not have as much adoption as FB or LI yet. Consider…"
Sep 13
David P. Dillard replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"If you decide to leave Ning, please consider as an additional place to have this discussion group at no cost, the GROUPS.IO discussion group network which is free and of a very high quality. It also provides a wiki to those who have discussion…"
Sep 13
Tiffany Broadbent replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"There is already a uwebd.slack.com Slack group that was created back in May so that is something that folks could transition to now if they'd like (http://cuwebd.ning.com/forum/topics/is-there-a-university-web-developers-slack-group). I…"
Sep 13
Sherrie Roberts replied to Mark Greenfield's discussion The Future of the UWEBD Social Network
"UWEBD is a site I come to ever so often but would hate for it to go away because it is a great place to meet and get input from other university web developers. Maybe move to a cheaper platform, Facebook group or LinkedIn group would be my choices.…"
Sep 13

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