You don’t need a redesign you need a web strategy (Part One)

September 27, 2008

Each year higher ed spends more money, creates more positions, buys more products and services for the web but does your institution have a strategy behind these actions? Even if there is a strategy are there benchmarks and metrics in place to assess the strategy?

Over the course of the last 8 years that I have worked in higher ed I have found through my time in athletics, admissions, and now the web that we “throw” money at problems and challenges dealing with technology. Institutions would be better served to take 6 months and create a true strategy for their web efforts and then put the people in place to execute that strategy.

The website and in broader terms your institutions web presence is no longer just a medium for the school to communicate like the alumni magazine and e-newsletter but instead it represents the very essence of your school just like the buildings on your campus or the people who work at the school.

What does a strategy mean? Or better yet what does a strategy not mean. Simply redesigning a website in house is not a web strategy but instead a stop gap measure that might not even solve the challenges that institutions face. If a building needs to be upgraded it isn’t just done on a whim by the facilities department instead it often gets looked at as part of a broader campus master plan that had input from the campus community and was designed to meet the needs of campus from a facilities standpoint for the next 10, 15, or 20 years Why don’t we do the same thing with our web strategy?

Some would argue that it is too tough to create a strategy with technology since the technology changes so rapidly. That’s why you need a strategy in place that does not focus solely on the “latest and greatest” technologies but instead – focuses on your ability to adapt and respond working collaboratively and within teams. A strategy with this focus allows you to enhance and change as technology moves forward without losing site of your institutions mission and brand.

to be continued….


How data can help you show value…

September 24, 2008

You collect data all year long. You have google analyitics running on your site, and you can tell everyone how many hits your homepage gets in a week. Now is the time to put that data to use and help you show value. It’s budget time and the data you have collected can be a valuable asset when you are advocating for additional resources in the web area.

You will have a strong case if you are able to pull together a complete picture. Here are some examples:

  • just how many users the web is marketing to in a year
  • how with limited resources (because lets face it we never admit that we have enough) you were able to engage visitors to stay longer on the site because of your enhanced content or technology
  • a direct correlation to online donations or enrollment
  • the number of requests for help you got across campus
  • the number of “webmaster” emails you answered

Data can be used for more than just reporting or “backing up” your web decisions. Use it to your advantage.


Taking advantage of students

September 14, 2008

It’s that time of the year on our campus – budget time. The fall brings the budget request process. I have been crafting my well thoughtout explanations for additional resources, carefully aligning each one with aspects of the strategic plan and wondering how could our senior leadership team possibly turn me down.

Part of our thinking this year has been “how to do more with what we got”. Of course we all hope to have additional resources but how do you stretch your ability to do more?

The answer time after time this semester is to give student internships a shot. Tapping into our talented student body for technical and marketing help might just be the answer. Of course students don’t replace a full time staff member or funds to outsource marketing efforts. But properly trained and supervised and motivated they can provide additional assistance with limited budgetary impact.


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