University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Quick poll for those of you who have feature stories on your university's primary home page:

1) How often are the stories updated?
2) Who is responsible for writing the stories?
3) How many people in total are involved in the process from writing to designing to Web production to get these stories up/changed?

Can you include your URL in your response?

Thanks! :)

* Follow-up question: Can you describe your technical implementation of this feature?

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1. the spotlight story on the home page every Friday and smaller news items daily except for occasional slow times.

2. We have two news guys and they have an interface we built to add news to the home, prospective student, current student and fac/staff pages. One of them handles the news items and they tag team it.

3. One news guy and the photographer (photo guy for spotlight only). Id the database admin interface has problems, Web developer gets involved.
Great questions, Rachel.

University Home page (in OmniUpdate):
News Portal (in DNN):

1) We update the large center image/story/caption once per week, usually on Monday or Tuesday. We update the news headlines on our homepage (in the lower right and right sidebar) every 1-2 days.

2) Stories are written by the Public Relations director, two part-time writers, and several student PR interns. The stories are written for the for the News Portal, which then feeds the University Home page with headlines and a right-hand bar with major events and marketing stories (rankings, etc). Our rationale for emphasizing news content so prominently on the university homepage is that we want to tell people both on campus and off-campus what is happening right now, rather than make hard sell marketing-type content -- resulting in a homepage is refreshed regularly with content that is relevant to our campus community AND it tells what we feel is an honest, relevant, timely story for marketing purposes --> a snapshot of the campus at the moment.

3) We have 5-6 writers for the News Portal in DNN, and two of them also update the stories on the university homepage using OmniUpdate.

Follow-up Q on tech:
We use DotNetNuke framework for the news portal, which provides an RSS feed to the university homepage that is managed in OmniUpdate. The news RSS feed is parsed and rendered by an ASP script on the homepage.
1. Depends on what's happening on campus. Typically once or twice a week.
2. The Communications department, though on occasion something will come directly from the President or Provost.
3. Typically no more than 2, but for bigger announcements, in which more departments are involved, it may be 5-6.
Our CMS ( handles all of the news announcements. (with HEADLINES feeding from and IN THE NEWS articles feeding from

1) Feature stories (i.e., HEADLINES) are updated almost daily by a two-person writing staff in the PR / marketing / communications department, or which I am a member (but do not have to write stories [though I may make corrections, especially to special characters not understood by what is essentially a Word Press blog feeding the homepage via RSS). Blog entries are treated like sacred posts with "reply" or "comment" turned off.

2) Again, it's purely a marketing / PR staff of only a coulple of people, acting under the direction of a Vice President of Marketing and Communications. The IN THE NEWS section is handled by a Media Relations Director.

3) For those keeping count, that's 1 web person / staff (me) involved in the coding / design and RSS feed (with setup assistance and ocassional toubleshooting by colleagues in IT) and roughly 3 people to write copy. Fortunately, two of the three writers have been taught how to make posts to the blog, making my life easier and the feed to the homepage automatic.

Technical implementstion of this feature meant installing WordPress on the server and then hosting our own RSS feed. Javascript examples of how to accomplish this kind of feed abound. Goodle it or feel free to lift our code; important thing is that you need somewhere to host the feed. NOTE:We will be getting away from WordPress and using Sharepoint blogs in due time, but for now (fingers crossed) everyone is happy with the rapid delivery of news. How Sharepoint will work out is anyone's guess (any advice?)

My question is this: like others in this thread, I'm noticing a trend... very few "web" people and more content writers. In our case, that's great for speedy delivery of news, but a University site is more than news: do you find yourself understaffed when it comes to pure "web" designers and developers needed to evolve and upgrade in areas outside of news (admissions, etc.)?

May I ask why you are migrating FROM wordpress TO sharepoint?
We add a new link to a feature story in the "Norwich Today" scroll in the center of our primary homepage weekly. We try to add a higher-impact image/link to an emagazine-style article on that page every other month. Emagazine image/links are top right.

All stories are conceived by Web Communications in the Office of Communications and written by staff or freelancers.

For standard format stories, writer, senior web editor, photographer, second editor for proofing. For more complex layouts incorporating multimedia, same as above with tech help from director of web communications. For emagazine articles, full complement.

Because we're committed to publishing narratives (storytelling) rather than "straight news," press releases or calendar-item type articles on Norwich Today, weekly publication has proven a workable time frame. Future plans include creation of a media relations site/blog, which will allow us to syndicate more press release and "straight news" type articles in widgets on the primary home page, school home pages as appropriate, and in a widget on the Norwich Today home page.

Recent articles:
"And so it begins"
Class of 1959 bridge brings students to a new home on The Hill

Eric Hobart (ehobart) @
Feature stories on our home page are specific to our marketing and brand components, and are not related to our news stories (which are also displayed as timely on another part of our home page). Five stories for each key message are displayed, and the whole lot of them are updated quarterly. Stories are written in Communications. The process is led by our web designer, and will involve the five subjects being featured, a campus photographer (though we may use photos which were shot in a pre-existing production - newsletter, etc.), and some rewriting staff. Sign off is required from the Director of Communications and the VP External, with all of Executive being provided with the opportunity for feedback.

The photos are uploaded into our CMS (Luminis) and will appear as the opening banner photo on the page - one of five will appear randomly with an option to scroll through the others (this interaction is being updated to include thumbnails).
1) Our top rotating banner (image and story) is updated every two weeks

2) Marketing and Communications

3) 2-5 depending on who is available


* Follow-up question: Can you describe your technical implementation of this feature?

Manual process
1.) For the whole university, the home page feature is updated every week. (I know you didn't ask this, but I'll add that 90% of these stories are research features, since we're a research university. A couple cover major campus events, including a commencement feature profiling remarkable graduating students. We also do a recommended reading feature and a year-in-review)
2.) Public affairs reps from across campus write the stories. Every college has at least one rep working there fulltime, and we each submit story ideas to the central university public affairs VP, who says yea or nay.
3.) 4 people are involved - the writer; the university's web editor, who actually posts the content; a university photographer and a university web designer, who work together to create the visual that goes in the feature story banner.


*Follow-up: the web editor uses a Wordpress platform to manage all the stories and content.
1) 'a few times a week' - again somewhat dependent on what is happening that week
2) The PR team writes the stories
3) The web editor uploads the story to the site, crops images appropriately and (on occasion) has some editorial input if the copy is too long/not that web friendly (nb we have no cms atm, grrr so this is done manually via dreamweaver)

For us, the large promotional area on the home page is not necessarily for "feature stories" (though, they are a small part of it). Instead, we use it to promote various programs, events, important Web site items, urgent information, press releases, etc.

Ours is really only updated when we have something new to promote, but lately that's been two or three times each week. Ours is a random, rotating promotional area, so the items stay in the queue as long as they are relevant. Some will only be in the queue for a week, others will be in there for months.

Because there are no stories to be written to accompany our promos, the promo items themselves (which have to be less than 200 characters), are written by the person wanting to promote the item, then proofread by a handful of colleagues.

1. One story is added to the rotating bank of stories once a week EXCEPT if there is something really critical to celebrate or communicate. This is in addition to daily posting of news articles to our newsline

2+3. Our media unit and/or our internal communications unit generate the stories, our web product editor selects the story based on interest, and how it communicates the brand (for example we track all the types of stories we publish and try to balance diversity of topic, areas of focus and people) and creates the headline to position it. Our web production lead selects the imagery and drops it into our flash program. Most of the time we feature stories that are written for other purposes, occasionally we will repackage them. Because we have a standard process and repurpose our articles this takes no more than a 1 hour footprint a week.



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