University Web Developers

University Web Developers

I'll invite you to check out www.warnerpacific.edu
to see how dated and un-impressive our website is - don't worry,
though, we know we need some change and fast. We've been trying to hire a
web developer but had a lack of exciting candidates. Feel free to
ridicule all you want, as I know I am not responsible for it's lack of
bells and whistles. All on campus are aware of our dire needs.

So here's where you come in - any ideas on how to make our job enticing
to interesting and worthy web professionals like all of you? And ideas
on where to post the job?

Also, we are currently using Ektron CMS but are considering a switch in
the near future. I've seen Cascade Server being discussed, but are there
other great products we should take a look at?

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Well, you can post the job (as a freelance gig) at www.higheredexperts.com/work if you want to reach web professionals working in higher education.

The posting are displayed on this site, have their own twitter feed and are included in a weekly email newsletter sent to more than 1,500 individuals.
I can sympathize with you, having, on more than one occasion, inherited a website designed by IT folks but targeting a visually sophisticated and demanding audience of teens and parents looking at colleges and universities that might interest them. You've gotta have a CMS that can be used by members of the faculty and staff who are experts and care about their content, and it has to somehow be really, really easy to post new web 2.0 content along with all the other stuff a good website needs. We are just now working with a new system that is really different than anything I've ever seen. I think (hope) this may be the magic bullet I've been looking for the past 15 years.

I have been involved in a number of CMS implementations. After auditing our needs and the state of the current CMS, we realized that we needed to do something different. We are in the process of implementing ContentM (http://higheredcms.info) which seems really revolutionary in its approach to CMS. We are very excited and if you are interested I can share more information with you. I have also been very impressed with their approach to client relationships. They are an R&D firm that is selective about their projects so I am not sure is it will be the best fit for you. Hope this helps.

The kind of CMS you end up with will also give determine if you need to hire super tech geeks or go with really organized and creative web folks.
I'm surprised that up in Portland you haven't had better luck with applications.

For the job, be sure to try and balance pay and benefits with the market. One of the main problems is that good web designers can make a lot more in the private sector normally, but you have ways of balancing that if you get them to look past the base salary number. Make it clear that you're offering awesome benefits (and hold to that). If you tell people it's no big deal to take a couple days off here and there, or they can work from home a day a week, that will really sell the position to people.

Next, check your requirements. Are you asking for someone that can code HTML/CSS, javascript, do Flash development, XSLT, graphic design, accessibility, and writing? You might be asking too much then. A good web professional isn't always a master of all web technologies, and frequently many web technologies though necessary, will have nothing to do with each other (i.e. graphic design and XSLT). That doesn't mean lower your standards, just be aware of what your asking for and make sure it's both logical and reasonable. Be open to the idea that you might be able to get a smart person and train them in the areas they aren't yet proficient in.

Lastly, don't be afraid to think outside the box. Maybe you can hire a telecommuter from some random town in Iowa. Or maybe you can just contract someone for X hours a month to provide service and maintenance.

CMS wise, I would give hard, close looks at both dotCMS and OmniUpdate. dotCMS if you need flexibility and free, OmniUpdate if you're willing to pay some money for a well supported, client targeted system (i.e. they have built their system specifically for higher ed).
Thanks you guys. I'll bring up your suggestions at our "State of the Web" address/discussion this week. Michael, you're surprise is echoed here that we have this trouble in Portland. Aren't we a hub of this kind of potential employee? Hmmm.
One more thing I would point out is the importance to truly understand what you need at your institution. Are you looking for a Web developer or a Web designer? If you are trying to advertise a position that requires the applicant to be really good at both, you're probably going to find yourself extremely disappointed in the quality of applicants. Either the person will be a phenomenal designer with little talent for actually developing advanced Web-based applications (or, possibly one that relies on Flash for all of his/her "development" work) or you're going to find a really talented developer with really poor design skills. It's extremely rare that you'll find someone that can knock both out of the ballpark (though, you'll probably find a lot that say they can).

If you already have a graphic designer on staff at your institution, you will most likely want to invest in someone whose responsibilities center around development and utilize the design staff you already have for the actual Web design work. If you don't have a graphic designer on staff, you might need to advertise two separate positions.
I am a big user of ExpressionEngine - this site I made is using it http://herkimer.edu - w/ EE - it is very flexible and you can bend it to almost anything you need a CMS to do.

Use this for inspiration: http://edushowcase.com/ - I came across it a week ago, I wish I knew about it 18 months ago.
I know they're required, but I'd bet those Employment Standards and Lifestyle Agreements significantly decrease your applicant pool.
Ahha, I didn't even notice it was a religious college. That will absolutely impact applicants in a huge way.

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