Higher Ed Web Redesign, Part 3: Conferencing, Drupalizing, Content Gather…izing

A quick update on our designs: still not in hand, but there’s a meeting set for June 1 between the agency, our developer and myself to review the code and make sure we’re all set. It pushes our project out a bit, but not an overly drastic amount.

At the end of April, we held two feedback exhibitions for our campus community to view the designs and share their thoughts. Reserving computer labs on either campus, we set up a Prezi to walk them through the designs (with the ability to click around and zoom as desired) while we (web redesign team) milled about and answered questions. Over forty people stopped by between the two sessions, and over twenty provided feedback via the link/form sent out afterwards. Some useful pieces, particularly regarding verbiage and information architecture; lots of the expected ‘where’s my page?’; and a lot of positive feedback. Which is great, obviously, but what I’ve since then is that people seem to feel more comfortable voicing negative opinions in other ways, making it more difficult to address as we move down the redesign path. More on that to come.

From a higher level perspective, it’s been a month of conferencing for me. A weekend spent at Information Architecture Summit 2015, a week at DrupalCon, and a single day at the MHTA Spring Conference (and I spent a day creeping on the Confab sessions…they were livestreamed! I couldn’t help myself). Having attended IAS, MHTA and Confab conferences previously, I was well-prepared for information overload, but was a little wary of DrupalCon. Being unfamiliar with the community and as a non-developer, I was a little nervous that sessions would be a little over my head. However, the immense number of tracks and sessions (business strategy! ux! content!) on top of a few low-level technical sessions kept me engaged but not overwhelmed. It’s a terrific conference to get acquainted with the Drupal community, who are a fervent, fervent bunch. I’m looking forward to our local DrupalCamp in June.

So, back from DrupalCon and done with conferences for a while, it’s time to dive back into the redesign while digesting a month of information consumption. My goal of outlining the entering student pathway via communication has hit a wall; student service departments have either consistently rerouted me or flat out said that it’s too much work. Eventually, it’s an important step toward consistent communication that ought to be completed…eventually. I’ll focus on my medium and tend my garden and all those kinds of euphemisms.

But GatherContent. The entire site structure is in place, and almost all the content managers onboarded. We’ve effectively dismantled several silos, but are still working on the buy in. The target date to have all content managers onboarded in GatherContent is June 3, and first drafts of content in by mid-end of June. Throughout July we’ll work on refining, and spend August on more in depth Drupal training and (fingers crossed) exporting directly out of GatherContent. September = user testing, October launch, and further testing after launch.


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