Web Redesign, Website Reviews and More at #econfpsu

In two weeks I will be making my annual trek down to State College for Elements: The Web Conference at Penn State.  I first presented at this conference 10 years ago and it has always been one of my favorite events. I will be giving a talk on Web Redesign Done Right – the First Time.  I have been involved with hundreds of redesign projects both in my work at the University at Buffalo and in my consulting work and my experience has been that most colleges redesign much too frequently, often for the wrong reasons, and don’t think beyond the launch. My talk will focus on the following three areas: How best to utilize the experiences with your current site to inform decisions about the new site. How to utilize user centered design methodologies throughout the redesign project. The importance of thinking post launch. The day your site launches is the day the real work begins. For those of you who will be attending the conference, I will be conducting free onsite website reviews.  These 15 minute “lightning audits” will provide an independent, objective, professional critique of your site and provide recommendations for improvement. Conference attendees can register for a review at http://go.siteimprove.com/web-audit-elements.  Space is limited so don’t wait. I hope to see you in Happy Valley.  ...

The 4th Annual HighEdWeb Leadership Academy

The importance of web leadership can not be understated.  The success of an organization’s web efforts are directly related to the leadership skills of the web team.  In addition to traditional leadership traits, web leaders have the ability to integrate the web and digital into the fabric of the organization and align web goals and objectives with institutional goals and objects. Good leadership skills result in getting appropriate resources and having campus leadership that fully understands and supports web efforts. I am excited about our 4th annual HighEdWeb Leadership Academy that will be held on October 3-4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which will run in conjunction with the 2015 HighEdWeb Annual Conference. The goal of this Academy is to develop Web leaders within higher education with an intensive program that offers interactive learning experiences in a small group setting. What differentiates this leadership academy from other organizations with leadership programs is a specific focus on the job of a Web director/manager that touches all facets of the job.  This academy will offer a holistic view of what goes into being a college Web leader. Participants in the academy will learn: What is leadership, the importance of leadership for web professionals and how to develop leadership skills How to communicate effectively with campus administrators and stakeholders How to articulate the value of the web to obtain the appropriate staff and resources An understanding of higher education organization and administration, and the implications for the web How to manage people, including the ideal composition of a web team and hiring practices How to implement a Web governance structure including a Web governance...

How Good is Good Enough?

As I work on my keynote speech for the 2015 eduWeb Digital  Summit in July, I keep coming back to the following philosophical question: When it comes to the web and digital in higher education, how good is good enough? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – most college websites are still mediocre at best. For the past two months I have reviewed hundreds of catalog sites and to say they are mediocre is being nice.  Most of them are awful.  Information about degree programs is arguably the most important information on the site yet these sites are doing disservice to the campus. I recently asked a group of conference attendees the following question: True or False: Most College Web Sites Are Bad?  The majority of the audience said this was false and that their websites are well done. But when I look at their sites I see plenty of areas for improvement.  As part of my consulting work I conduct website reviews on a regular basis and I have yet to see a site that didn’t have issues. Am I being too picky? Is it worth the money to produce the absolute best website? At one extreme is having your site created and maintained by students at $10 per hour.  At the other extreme is having a world renown digital agency do this work.  Where should higher ed sites fall on this continuum? How good is good enough? Discuss....

See You in Chicago for the eduWeb Digital Summit

I’m happy to announce that I will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2015 eduWeb Digital  Summit being held in Chicago on July 27-30, 2015. I will be debuting a new talk called “The .edu Manifesto; a call to action for higher ed to get digital right.”  The web is mission critical for colleges and universities, yet most college websites remain mediocre at best, underfunded and mismanaged.  Multiple missions, silos, consensus decision making, multiple audiences with disparate needs, corporate expectations on a not-for-profit budget, campus politics, and decentralized organizational structures all combine to create a very demanding environment. But we can, and must, get digital right. My talk will be part rant, part history lesson, part hope for the future, and a call to action for higher ed to get the web and digital right.  Stay tuned to the this site over the next few weeks as I share more information about the .edu manifesto. In addition to the keynote, I will be teaching a workshop on web governance. Completely updated for 2015, this workshop will provide practical advice and guidance on using digital governance and management to achieve a sustainable, efficient, and cost effective digital presence. Topics will include: How to educate senior leadership on the importance of digital The relationship between governance, strategy, policies and standards How to create a digital governance charter that balances autonomy with accountability A review of the pros and cons of various governance models, committee structures and reporting structures How to make digital governance work in a decentralized organizational model I hope to see you in Chicago in...

Sweet Briar the Latest College to Get Flattened

I have been talking about higher education getting flattened for several years. My use of the word “flattened” comes from Tom Friedman’s book The World is Flat and is defined as “When the impact of the Internet and globalization render and industry unrecognizable, and in many cases, obsolete.”  We can now add Sweet Briar College as the latest example of a college getting flattened. There has been considerable media attention paid to the announcement last week that Sweet Briar College is closing.  Many people questioned if this was the only option given Sweet Briar’s had $84 million in its endowment. Others said the closing was not a surprise. You can count me in the latter group. As Peter Drucker said almost 20 years ago: Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. … Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable. Higher education must adapt to the realities of the 21st century. We need to become more focused, more efficient, and provide better value.  Sweet Briar is not the first college to be flattened. They won’t be the last. Articles about Sweet Briar Sweet Briar: The Crack in the Faberge Egg MARK CUBAN: This is just the start of the college implosion Does Sweet Briar College Want To Survive? The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet Briar’s Professors College enrollment: Trouble signs Is Sweet Briar’s Closure a Warning Sign for Other Small Colleges? Shut Down Without a Fight  ...

A New Design and a New Approach

Over the past few days I have been in a soft launch of a new design to this website. It was long overdue.  The last time the site was redesigned was in 2009 and it had come to look very outdated. It also wasn’t optimized for mobile.  Mobile traffic on my site has reached 38%, and this is without a mobile friendly design. The new site is responsive, and the content has been updated to better reflect my work as a consultant and a speaker. And while making the site mobile friendly is important, the biggest difference you will see moving forward is a change in approach to the relationship of my website to my social media channels. To be perfectly honest, I have been doing it wrong over the past few years. I counsel my clients that their websites need to be the foundation for their web ecosystem.  Social media plays an important role, but at the end of the day the .edu website matters the most.  I was not heeding my own advice. I had slowly fallen into the habit of using social media as the primary way of sharing my thoughts and this was at the expense of this site, especially my blog. My hope is to write at least one blog post a week.  There is certainly plenty to write about. There is a lot going in higher education, and with the web and digital.  Many of the changes I have been talking about for the past several years are taking root.  The mobile web is here.  Higher education disruption is upon us. And the...