Higher Ed Web Redesign, Part 4: Forward Motion

Five months is a long time to go without an update, but there was a bit of a lag in development. ITS lost two developers over the summer as well as the Director for the area. With the workload spreading over fewer people, a couple things became abundantly clear:

  • October 1 was not a feasible launch date
  • Without expert, outside assistance, the site won’t be able to launch with the necessary functionality until spring semester

Armed with these intangibles, the Web Redesign Group plead our case to the Executive Cabinet and were allowed to contract with an outside agency for the site. After a brief break, we selected Electric Citizen as our partner for the project. They’re a local agency with a range of experience in developing higher ed and public websites. Our initial kick off meeting displayed the range of their knowledge and expertise, and we’re crazy excited to get back on track with the project.

Which isn’t to say we’ve been sitting on our laurels in the meantime. Our Web Content Editor has been taking the time to go through GatherContent to edit and organize for the future site; our target date for completion of this phase is October 20. Additionally, our content contributor structure is drastically changing. The Web Content Editor and myself ran some focus groups and informal research sessions to gain more insight into how they thought of their roles, how often they logged in, all those sorts of things.

What we found out is that they tended to log in, on average, maybe one time a month. As far as how often they reviewed their pages, in total, it was never. For all but one content contributor, these duties were not a part of their position description–they were randomly assigned to the web content under the ambiguous ‘other duties as assigned’–and were never really trained on how to write for the web or anything beyond how to use the CMS. The Web Redesign Committee saw this as an optimal time to restructure this.

Going forward, there will be six *power editors* or content coordinators who will have access to the new Drupal website. The previous 30 will retain roles as subject matter experts, forwarding their content to their respective power editor. Most importantly, though, these six editors will have their position description revised so that 10% of their position will include web content management, specifically

  • Maintaining & upholding web content & brand guidelines
  • Reviewing assigned web pages on a regular basis
  • Overseeing, coordinating, and following up with Subject Matter Experts
  • Reviewing & approving submitted web content
  • Utilizing Google Analytics for to review assigned pages
  • Attend monthly content management meetings

A kick off meeting was held last week to discuss meeting agendas, introduce everyone, and discuss ongoing communication methods and ways to share information. Overall, everyone seems invested and excited to be a part of the project, and we’ve all got our eyes set on December 19: the new launch date.

What do you think?

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