University Web Developers

University Web Developers

I am the lone web developer here overseeing a designated person from each department that updates the content on their department's webpage. 99% of them don't know HTML and use a WYSIWYG editor to do their updates. I find a lot of my time is being a  support center for them and fixing their pages and setting this up for them. As a result I have a hard time developing an overall strategy for the website, and don't have a clear and well defined process for my website.

So my question for all of you is, what strategies do you have for your website? what is your process to accomplish them? and how does that fit in with the day to day troubleshooting and maintenance?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Views: 251

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I think one of the most important things to consider here is evaluating a robust and easy-to-use content management system (you probably are already using one) - choose one that users with very little knowledge of HTML would learn easily to publish content without your assistance.  The infrastructure is also important: have a development environment where people have the chance to "stage" their updates and make their revisions until they're ready. If they need to work with a designer or have the need to make their pages look good before they go live, this will give you a chance to do so. Take the time in advance to develop CMS templates that are flexible and work well.  What types of fixes do you usually do? formatting? 

I worked before in an environment where the CMS was flexible enough to create specific css style classes - this helped a lot to maintain consistency of look and feel and branding. It is also helpful to create a self-help wiki of some sort and provide them with instruction on using the CMS features effectively. 





Being a MS shop we are using SharePoint to service our website. We have it set up on a development server where (hopefully) all of the changes and updates are done, then published to the live server. I have set up a template, some styles, and defined a content area for them using Dreamweaver. Unfortunately for me, when things are done in SharePoint "design view" it really puts a lot of bloated crappy code in there. So it feels like I am fighting a losing battle when I go through pages, fixing the code only to find them messed up again later. (maybe it's just the perfectionist in me)

As far as updates goes, fixing code, fixing horrible designs, formatting pictures, fixing links, designing pages, setting up sites, setting up strategy for sites and pages...

I think a big part of the problem is that the "department developers" don't really think about the website at all. They don't really view it as part of their job. I'm not certain it's in their job description. More of something that just got tacked on to their list of responsibilities, so they don't think about it often. I hear "I haven't looked at the website in a long time" sooo many times. Really validates what I do for sure!

I love Erik response, yes web governance is one of the biggest challenges in higher ed, I think. So, SP is this much of pain to manage?  I will be migrating our dept. intranet to SP, I hope it isn't too painful.

If you hand code things it isn't too bad. Although it has been prone to crash a bit. If you use it as a WYSIWYG then it's pretty bad. a lot of bloated, poorly formatted code. Also if you have a few layers of sites, then it's seems problematic in recognizing files (say CSS) outside of the local site in the WYSIWYG mode. Also there really isn't a good way to sort though them as well.

Let me know if you have better luck than me. Maybe there is something I could set up differently.

I've been wrestling with these questions for the past several months. As you say, it feels like we have two very different in-house roles: a creative design firm, and an IT support group. The bigger the site gets, the more the IT support role eats into project development time (fixing pages and errors, minor content changes, CMS training and account management, etc.)

One one level, a solid CMS is a must and should help with the day to day stuff. Something that allows people to easily create pages, paste in content, and format it in a way that adheres to your templates and style guidelines. I don't know if there's a product out there that will completely prevent someone from messing up a page, but that's where training comes in.

But on a higher level, there are questions of overall web strategy, governance and structure, and execution processes and standards. My small team has outgrown the ad-hoc type of development we've done for years, and have been outpaced by the workload. It feels like a turning point where we really need to develop a strategic vision for the web presence, and then make the case to senior management for appropriate human and financial resources.

These articles have really helped that bigger picture start to take shape in my mind:

Lisa Welchman has a lot of good things to say on this topic.

Thanks for the links. Time to do some reading and research!
I agree - CMS is the key.  Ours it set up very carefully so the departments only have to fill in the text boxes, so to speak.  We still maintain overall design control.  I'm also not from a tech background, so I don't know HTML, although my assistant does.  But we also handle all publications, various events, etc., etc., etc.  Making web content easy for the depts is crucial.  That said, there will always be some users who are intimidated by it or just don't want to do it.  We do have to step in then for the overall good of the school.

I'll join the chorus and echo that a good web CMS will free you up to focus on strategy and progress. We implemented the Reason content management system 3 years ago for departmental websites and it has made all the difference.




Latest Activity

Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Web governance should not be an afterthought; when it’s done right, it can actually enhance your workflow and make your job easier."
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Exciting news... OmniUpdate has merged with Destiny Solutions! Learn more on our blog."
Oct 30
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Switching to a new CMS? Join our next webcast with Briana Johnson from @OSUIT to learn how to convince decentralized web content authors to tolerate the switch, actively participate, and enjoy it!"
Oct 29
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Your website is the front door to your college or university. Your website design has to accommodate for the way that students interact with and use the information your institution provides."
Oct 24
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn how a new website design and CMS helped Florida Gulf Coast University increase new visits to the school’s website with improved SEO."
Oct 21
Profile IconJames Pollard and Michael Clarke joined University Web Developers
Oct 21
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join our next webcast with Kelly Rushing from @uofsouthalabama to learn how to create accessible PDFs for your website by starting with your source documents."
Oct 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn why your college or university should choose SaaS across the board, especially for your next CMS."
Oct 8
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join us for our next webcast with OmniUpdate CEO Lance Merker, who will delve into key insights about Generation Z’s online search behaviors to help you refine your school's web marketing strategy."
Oct 3
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Our newest guide will help you learn what it means to be accessible, how to implement accessibility best practices, quick fixes to try as well as a long-term plan, plus tools to help you in your website accessibility efforts. Download it now!"
Oct 1
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Are online forms more efficient? Learn how El Camino College used Formstack to create online forms that expedited processing, improved communications, increased transparency, and promoted accountability across campus."
Sep 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"It's important to understand the science behind your web pages to better engage and ultimately attract prospective students to your site."
Sep 12
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"If you’re struggling with web challenges such as accessibility, SEO, design consistency, workflow, content governance, or how to start a website redesign, you’re not alone. Join our next webcast to learn how other higher ed institutions…"
Sep 5
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"eQAfy confirms that OU Campus is still the #1 commercial CMS for colleges and universities in the United States."
Aug 28
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Here’s an outline of everything you need to know about OCR compliance, including what it is, what your college or university can do to stay compliant, and resources for OCR compliance. #accessibility"
Aug 23
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join us for our next webcast with April Buscher from Montana State University Billings to learn how blind readers and people with hearing impairment view and read your website and how you can make it accessible to them."
Aug 14
Amanda Lawson joined Lynn Zawie's group


Share your experiences using OmniUpdate CMS
Aug 9
Amanda Lawson posted a photo

Amanda Lawson

Amanda Lawson, Web Content ManagerCommunity College of Allgheny County
Aug 9
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"High schoolers spend more time on their digital devices than they do sleeping, doing homework, or participating in extracurricular activities. So how do you make your message stand out to them? #eexpect"
Aug 8
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Want to increase digital engagement with high school juniors and seniors? Join our next webcast with Stephanie Geyer from Ruffalo Noel Levitz as she shares new data from the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report on email, paid media, and social media…"
Jul 31

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


© 2019   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service