University Web Developers

University Web Developers

So here's my situation- we've got over 230 web editors campus-wide who handle the day-to-day upkeep and maintenance of content on their sites. Basic stuff like spelling corrections, news/announcement postings, inserting new graphics etc. Some are fantastic. Some use the system rarely, and tend to need some coaching everytime the dive back in. And a minute handful just aren't getting it. We hold several monthly training sessions, and often hold one-on-one sessions for those folks who need a little extra hand-holding. Absolutely happy to do it- if they show that they want to make an effort to learn, we're happy to show them the way!

So my teams issue is, we've got a handful of web editors (well, at the moment, really just one) who just aren't getting it. This one in particular, really nice person, the training is just not sinking in. She's attended multiple group workshops, we've conducted literally DAYS (over the course of the year) of one-on-one time with her, and she's still not grasping basic web editing. She continues to edit her pages and muck things up with every edit/publish.

My question is- do any of you folks have policy covering incompetent web editors? Removing these individuals access to a site? Can you post/send me a link to anything you might have online or forward me any documents you might have?We're a brand new shop (just over a year now at this point) and are still in the process of encountering governance issues like this and I need something as a starting point to work something up, so that we can get someone to replace her. I can't spend any more of our limited time with this person, continually reteaching and correcting her mistakes.


Thank you in advance,


Dan Demmons

Director of Web Services
Providence College

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I would love to see policy examples, too, because I'm in the same boat.

I've run into this with a few people in the past. I ended up telling them to just submit their change requests to us through our Zendesk account, and we take care of it. I then removed their CMS access. They were okay with it because it meant less work for them.

As we move to a new CMS, I'm taking the opportunity to revamp our policies and training programs. No longer are we going to grant CMS access to anyone who wants it. They will have to go through our training program first, and we will assess their competency. If they just aren't tech savvy, I will likely make a recommendation to their supervisor or the owner of the website on who should be an editor.

Hopefully that will move most departments away from assigning these tasks to their admin assistants as just another miscellaneous responsibility. "Web editor" roles should be formally added to job descriptions and require certain skill sets.

Bottom line, I guess, is that you just have to be proactive and say look, this isn't working, can someone else in your dept take this on? But I'm not sure how to generalize that into policy language.


As you know, this issue falls into the realm of web governance. All roles and responsibilities need to be clearly articulated, and everyone needs to be held accountable. Have you talked to the supervisor of the web editor in question?  Are the editorial responsibilities in their job description?  Do their annual performance evaluations include how well they are editing the web? (And in a perfect world you would be part of the evaluation process.)

Ping me if you want to discuss further.


I'm the content manager and strategist at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia. We're a small private university - - with about 75 web editors on campus. Occasionally, we encounter editors who, even after a lengthy period of training, simply aren't a good fit for web work. (We offer beginner and intermediate training twice per year, during our campus-wide faculty/staff development, and we also offer 1:1 training for those who need a bit of hand-holding, as you say above)

When we encounter a staff member who just isn't a good fit, I usually have a 1:1 conversation with that person and his or her supervisor or department chair and encourage him or her to review information online regularly but pass the work to us in the marketing office. Often, these editors are an excellent resource for reviewing online info and keeping it current, but the technical and/or creative aspect of web work "just isn't there." I don't maintain a written policy on this, but after a number of years in this role - and since we are a smaller institution - I have a good idea of those for whom web work is a natural fit.

And thanks to our marketing director's work over the years, faculty and program directors are also now considering the importance of web work in the hiring process, and experience in the field or a natural affinity is a big plus for communications or coordinator positions.

We also have a standard content design and when editors step outside of the standard a number of times I will schedule a meeting with that editor and see if there's a better fit. Again, it comes down to 1:1 conversation at our university.

The way that I've handled this type of issue is to have all publishing go through an approval workflow.  (Short answer - no one can publish to the live site - they can only edit and submit changes for 'approval').

Most 'approvals' only take about 30 seconds - a quick spell check - link check - accessibility check - and publish.

It DOES create a bit of a bottleneck at times, but the time spent dealing with the workflow publishing approvals is far less than the alternative (fixing someone's messed up site/pages after they've gone live to the site).

We use OU Campus from OmniUpdate, and that workflow is built-in to the product.  A life saver, to say the least - we're in our 7th year using their product.

However, most (if not all) WCMS products have some form of workflow/approval process, and I would recommend placing this particular user in that flow immediately, until you can work out some other option for her (and your team).

How many change requests do you get a day on average, and how many people on the web team are assigned to review and publish the changes?

Owners of our departmental sites are the departments themselves - therefore the person ultimately responsible for what's on a department web site is the department chair. The department chair appoints the web editor, and I work with that person to make sure s/he gets at least basic CMS training and I provide technical support as questions arise. I also monitor sites and work with editors to correct issues. 

When I run into an editor that does not (or cannot) fulfill their web duties, I document the failures, report to my supervisor, who has a chat with the department chair. Most of the time, the chair will reappoint their editor.

Unfortunately, sometimes we're still stuck with the incompetent editor. If so, I continue to offer technical support. I'll walk him/her through image uploading for the 50th time - on the phone or in person. I'll continue to document site issues and report them to both the editor and chair. If there's something that *must* be changed, sometimes I will go in and fix it (with the chair and the editor's knowledge and approval), sometimes I'll stand over the editor and guide them through the process. 

But I will not take over maintenance of the site. It is important that the department continue to have ownership and responsibility for all content on their site, and they will not have that if we take over the day-to-day work. 

I feel really sorry for the editors who really aren't cut out for the work - most of the time, they know they're failing, and no one likes that. 



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