University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Anybody have good links (or pithy statements) that I might share with some members of my institution's faculty & senior administration, to encourage them to add content, and tell their stories, via our CMS?  Despite having been able to access program pages and more for the past two years,  some people still think the only position worth having is home page,  very much undervaluing the user experience at the program-page level. External sources always sound more authoritative!



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I'm going to take the low road here. If you have to convince them to tell a story or use the CMS, they probably aren't the right person to begin with. Nothing good comes from that. You're better off doing as little as you can as awesome as you can, don't try to force a lot of half-hearted pages onto you site. You'll end up with a ton of training (that you'll end up doing over and over), content that doesn't read well and doesn't actually add value, and it won't end up being properly maintained.

I know that's a terribly unhelpful answer, but your best bet is really being the hammer yourself, not trying to teach others how to swing it. It's a challenge we've fought with for a decade, and the number of success stories are few and far between.

Thanks for this, Michael.

I have to agree with The Fienen - after years of trying to convince our faculty & staff to use the CMS, we have faced the reality that the tool is an obstacle rather than a help. Hiring a content professional was the biggest turning point, because we now have the human resources to manage site content centrally. So instead of wasting time training editors over and over, and then rewriting their pages for them if they do use the CMS, we are transitioning them off the CMS and getting information and content from them any & every other way. It saves us work in the long term if we are the ones who actually load the content on to the CMS. If they do it, they waste a lot of time struggling with the tool, and get distracted by trying to format things in ways that are inappropriate anyway. They simply don't have the knowledge/training to do web content right.


When we implemented the CMS, centralizing content management wasn't an option, because there were literally no writing/content resources dedicated to the web. The only source of content had to be the faculty and staff across campus. This made for an extremely inconsistent site in terms of quality and quantity. Much of our work at the moment is clean-up.


We're not a huge school - approx. 2,500 fte, with around 160 editors in the CMS, probably 10% of whom actually know how to use it.


As to how to get them to understand that ALL the pages are important, not just the home page... site statistics and the e-Expectations data might help. That lays out pretty flatly what prospective students want to see. They may or may not be convinced by it, but it's there :)

Hmm, both Michael and Kris have good points... But ... would an incentive contest of some kind be an option? Just a thought... Unfortunately, the fact remains that if they don't want to do it, they are not the right people - as unhelpful as that may be. Could you go right to the students and enlist some English majors or literary magazine people to contribute? Not student blogging, but just content in general, written from a fresh perspective? Maybe work with instructors to integrate into a class project? We find great success when we involve students - we both benefit. They get hands-on experience and we get what we need. Hope that helps.

I think that it is important that the departments have a sense of ownership over "their" site, and understand just how much traffic the program-level pages get. Periodic emails containing Google Analytics reports are helpful for this, and so are search results. What's the top link for a search on "School Name Program?"  I'll bet it's not the school's home page  - but if it isn't the program page a discussion of how content relates to search results is in order.

We have found that the CMS isn't as much of an issue as the actual writing is. Faculty may be very good at writing up their research for peer-review and may tell some great stories in the classroom, but they aren't very good at writing their own stories. Some of them just don't have a personally engaging writing style, some aren't comfortable with horn-tooting (yes, it does happen), and none of them have the time. It's difficult for programs to keep necessary facts up to date much less tell stories. We have a writer on staff to help overcome this obstacle, but it's still tough.



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