University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Different perspective on the question "How many are in your department? "

I've enjoyed watching the "How many are in your department topic?" the last few days, but after giving it sometime and reading through the responses - I wonder if one of the things that's missing might be "What is the title and spectrum of "your department"? :)

Sometimes we are compared to other institutions and asked "Why can't we do that?" only to find out when we call those schools that they may only have a few (5 or less) folks in their "Web Services" department, but after probing a little deeper and ask what sort of services they offer to support the web.  Sometimes I find that they may write code, but don't maintain the servers.  They may edit and approve content for the site, but they don't have a training program for users. 

I see a lot of one person / very small "departments", but what are those departments called and what are they expected to do?  Do they purchase, install, and maintain the hardware for the servers?  Do they manage, patch and upgrade a CMS?  Do they enter all the content for the entire www.XXX.edu site(s)?  How many sites do they support?  Do they edit and approve all the content for the entire site(s)?  Do they train folks how to write for the web and how to use the system(s)?  Do they survey users and do regular usability testing with students, faculty, and others?  Do they handle all the emails that come in with "web issues"?  Do they test and install new systems for the web?  Do all web systems within the institution go through the "department"?  One of the biggest questions is "Are all the people who support the web at different institutions within the same "department"/organizational unit or are they spread out in other areas too?"

Just something to think about and something I'd be very interested in learning as well.  We are trying to do that sort of consolidation at our school so we can most efficiently utilize all the resources across the school.  That way we can also find out how many additional folks we really need to have the best web presence possible.




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Our server admin is in the IT department, as is our one PT app development support person (Administration and Finance Division) and I am in the University Relations (PR) department (Executive Division). The person who helps with writing for the Web is in the Academic Affairs division. As you can imagine, this sometimes causes a disconnect and takes more time for me to get things done since the other two report to other supervisors. To overcome this, I have opened lines of communication with those folks. It would be easier if at least one less upper administrator was involved in the process, but with 3, it really slows things down sometimes. The server admin strictly works with server maintenance, including software updates. The app developer creates applications that run outside the CMS (maybe that is customary in most case, not sure), the academic marketing coordinator assists academic units with writing content, and I deal with site maintenance, additions, training, usability testing, accessibility features, emails about web issues and pretty much everything else.

It would be easier if everything went through one department, but I only know of one or two universities where that is the case.
Thanks Suzanne - how big is your school as far as number of students go?
I am a one person department. I manage every aspect you mentioned above. Manage CMS, maintain server, support all sites on our domain, train users to use our software, run annual usability evaluations, handle all web support. So, needless to say I am a very busy guy, never a dull moment. I work in IT and am also our Advancement technology liason, and sometimes write custom programs for our Alumni reports.

We are small though, only 2500 students.
Thanks very much - I guess the number of students is another question we should ask to make sure we are comparing apples to apples. :) Sounds like you're very busy. :)
That's a big order. Even with the details of particular offices, I think you'll find it hard to distill a good baseline of offering vs workload.

As a one man office (Office of Web Marketing) at a school of 7000+, I:
- Maintain our CMS
- Do all front end development (HTML/CSS/most graphics/Velocity)
- Maintain social media
- Maintain our search appliance
- Support all campus offices' development needs
- Support the college instructional support consultants (middlemen between us and the departments with respect to technology needs)
- Process all analytics
- Some writing
- Information architecture
- Front end interactive tool planning and development (course search, forms, program listings, calendar, etc)
- Monitor accessibility
- Assist with deployment/support of other third party web tools (ie visitor chat support, etc..)

We have about 100 people total contributing in some way to the web site. I am involved in some way with nearly all of them, regardless of where they are. Unfortunately, training suffers as a result. Our IT staff handles the necessary OS updates on our server, but I handle everything else related to the CMS on the box. I do nothing with respect to our student portal system, which is exclusively the domain of IT. Otherwise, if it is web related, I almost certainly have something to do with it.

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