Students, Services, Silos, and Sanity: A Content Transformation Story

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All the cool kids seem to be doing it: bringing financial aid, tuition payments, registration, and other student services together under one virtual umbrella—the coveted “one-stop shop.”

Not surprisingly, creating a web presence for previously siloed offices can prove challenging. There are limited resources, wide-ranging audiences, long histories of territorialism—and we haven’t even started digging into the content.

Using the George Washington University’s recent undertaking as an example, this presentation will discuss the ups and downs of creating a single web presence for multiple organizations: gathering project support with user research and analytics, identifying where organizational challenges impact content, and keeping the peace—and your sanity—amid stakeholder tension.

Delivered at Confab Higher Ed, November 12, 2013

Published in: Technology, Economy & Finance

Students, Services, Silos, and Sanity: A Content Transformation Story

  1. 1. STUDENTS, SERVICES, SILOS, &SANITY: a content transformation story LISA MARIA MARTIN @REDSESAME CONFAB HIGHER ED 2013
  2. 2. This is a story ABOUT CHANGE.
  3. 3. Changing /   WEBSITES
  4. 4. Changing /   CONTENT
  5. 5. Changing /   MY ATTITUDE
  6. 6. I am a CS/IA/UX/OMG
  7. 7. I work at THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY /  
  8. 8. Where we BUILD WEBSITES FOR GW SCHOOLS, OFFICES, & PROGRAMS
  9. 9. Like /   STUDENT SERVICES
  10. 10. ENROLLMENT TUITION SCHOLARSHIPS BILLING COURSE REGISTRATION LOAN APPLICATIONS TRANSCRIPTS STUDENT ACCOUNTS VETERAN BENEFITS
  11. 11. The challenge: “WE NEED A WEBSITE.”
  12. 12. aka “A ONE-STOP SHOP”
  13. 13. Single PLATFORM
  14. 14. Multiple AUDIENCES
  15. 15. Multiple OFFICES
  16. 16. CONTENT IS scattered
  17. 17. CONTENT IS disorganized
  18. 18. CONTENT IS duplicated
  19. 19. EVEN contradictory
  20. 20. Goal: A SEAMLESS, ON-BRAND WEB EXPERIENCE THAT EMPOWERS USERS
  21. 21. SO HOW DO YOU TACKLE that?
  22. 22. Magic!
  23. 23. I mean research.
  24. 24. COMPETITIVE research
  25. 25. ANALYTICS research
  26. 26. USER research
  27. 27. Personas
  28. 28. Marcus NEW  STUDENT   Major:  Undecided  in  Columbian   College  of  Arts  &  Sciences   Hometown:  Albany,  NY   Goal:  Sign  up  for  the  right  classes   without  any  hassle.   “ I had no idea my loans could mess up my registration. ”
  29. 29. Lenore STAFF   Office:  Office  of  Student  Financial   Assistance   Hometown:  Washington,  DC   Goal:  Be  a  guide  when  students   and  parents  are  lost  in  the  system.   “ You have to be patient. You have to remember that they’re just kids. ”
  30. 30. Gary PARENT   Profession:  Lawyer   Hometown:  Trumbull,  CT   Goal:  Handle  transacLons  as   quickly  and  efficiently  as  possible.   “ Why isn’t this easier? I’m paying enough money for it, after all. ”
  31. 31. Cardsorting
  32. 32. Brainstorming
  33. 33. UX problem solved, then, yeah?
  34. 34. “WE CAN’T UPDATE THE CONTENT IF IT’S ON THAT WEBSITE.”
  35. 35. Content ownership concerns
  36. 36. “BUT WE JUST REDID OUR WEBSITE.”
  37. 37. Digital fatigue
  38. 38. “WE CAN’T WORK ON THIS UNTIL THE SEMESTER ENDS.”
  39. 39. Lack of time & resources
  40. 40. “OUR OFFICE ISN’T THE PROBLEM.”
  41. 41. Silos
  42. 42. Oh.
  43. 43. THERE ARE people INVOLVED, TOO.
  44. 44. AND PEOPLE HAVE feelings.
  45. 45. OUR JOB IS MORE than our tactics.
  46. 46. Empathy IS ACTUALLY REALLY HARD.
  47. 47. A SHORT LIST OF THINGS I DO NOT HAVE: Patience
  48. 48. Be kind.
  49. 49. Listen: ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR CONCERNS
  50. 50. Include: MAKE THEM A PART OF THE PROCESS
  51. 51. Flex: TAKE CONSTRAINTS INTO ACCOUNT
  52. 52. WHAT IF it doesn’t work?
  53. 53. KINDNESS IS AN attitude,   NOT A TACTIC.
  54. 54. YOU CAN’T NECESSARILY EMOTE YOUR WAY THROUGH THIS.
  55. 55. STRESS IS THE AMOUNT THAT YOU argue with reality.   - CY WAKEMAN
  56. 56. Recognize WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL.
  57. 57. Talk: GET PEOPLE TOGETHER.
  58. 58. Share: OVERCOMMUNICATE.
  59. 59. Test: BACK UP FEELINGS WITH NUMBERS.
  60. 60. Test: BACK UP NUMBERS WITH FEELINGS.
  61. 61. Celebrate: EMBRACE SMALL VICTORIES.
  62. 62. DID IT work?
  63. 63. SO WE transformed THE CONTENT
  64. 64. FROM SCATTERED TO organized
  65. 65. FROM SUSPICIOUS TO trustworthy
  66. 66. FROM SILOED TO connected
  67. 67. BUT WE HAVE TO DO THE SAME for the people behind the content.
  68. 68. Content reflects THE PEOPLE & PROCESSES THAT MAKE IT.
  69. 69. WHEN WE THINK ABOUT content owners
  70. 70. AS MUCH AS WE THINK ABOUT our users
  71. 71. BUILDING A better experience
  72. 72. Becomes A BETTER EXPERIENCE.
  73. 73. Thank you, Confab! LISA MARIA MARTIN @REDSESAME

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