Managing Higher Education Web Development: Traps and Tips
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Managing Higher Education Web Development: Traps and Tips. Towards the success of any higher education web project.

Managing Higher Education Web Development: Traps and Tips. Towards the success of any higher education web project.

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  • Note how this is relevant for everyone
  • Discuss why this high level view gives a great perspective
  • What do we do on a daily basis?
  • Ive surveyed my team for lessons learned. Should note that this works in tandem with our IT program management office
  • Much easier said then done
  • Some vendors will be happy b/c of bullet 3!Don’t have to sing the praises of inside vs. outside
  • All easier said then done
  • vs. Amazon, say
  • Through a combination of usability research and interviews
  • Open with, “what is the enterprise trap?”And close with, “This gets you in trouble"
  • As to the last bullet, be a web ambassador
  • More of a general tip
  • At GW but probably elsewhere too.A little doc goes a long way.
  • Accepting agility, rather than having to scramble when the waterfall is shattered, is better. Sooner you recognize it, the sooner you can capitalize on it
  • Our waterfall projects are usually over budget, past deadlines, miss requirements
  • If a group want to use joomla, and we traditionally use drupal, they can use joomla, given they understand we cannot help.
  • This screams web!
  • We have an email marketing system that allows tracking, saves money, conforms to standard ---- we, in a sense, compete with external services which, in our opinion, lower the standards for our departments
  • We’ve tapped in one sense or another. Not always as easy as it sounds.


  • 1. Managing Higher education web development: traps and tips
    Towards the success of any higher education web project
    Ryan dellolio
    Web program manager
    The george washington university
    Columbian college of arts and sciences
    Washington, dc
    Given At Eduweb 2010
    July 28 2010
    Chicago, IL
  • 2. The george washington university
  • 3. Web activity at gw
    Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
    500+ faculty &
    3000 students
    100+ staff
    University’s largest academic unit (Liberal Arts)
  • 4. Africana StudiesAmerican StudiesAnthropologyApplied Quantitative Risk AnalysisArt TherapyBiochemistryBiological SciencesBiomedical SciencesBiostatisticsChemistryClassical and Semitic Languages and
    LiteraturesClassical ActingCounselingEarly Modern European StudiesEast Asian Languages and LiteraturesEconomics
    EnglishEnvironmental StudiesEnvironmental Resource PolicyEpidemiologyFilm Studies
    Fine Arts and Art HistoryForensic Sciences
    GeographyGeological SciencesGenomics and BioinformaticsGlobal CommunicationsHistoryHominid PaleobiologyInterior DesignJudaic StudiesLinguisticsMathematicsMedia and Public AffairsMedicine, Society and CultureMuseum StudiesMusicOrganizational Sciences and CommunicationPhilosophyPhysicsPolitical ScienceProfessional Psychology
    PsychologyPublic Policy and Public AdministrationReligionRomance, German, Slavic Languages and LiteraturesSociologySpeech and Hearing SciencesStatisticsTheatre and DanceUniversity Writing ProgramWomen's Studies
    50+ Departments and Programs
  • 5. 52 informational sites, 1200+ pages at last audit
  • 6. Web properties
  • 7.
    • New development
    • 8. Redevelopment
    • 9. Information architecture
    • 10. Web marketing
    • 11. Social media
    • 12. Web strategy and consulting
    OUR pipeline
  • 13. higher education…
  • 14. higher education…
  • 15. Staffing
    Marketing and Communication
  • 16. Lessons learned: traps
  • 17. Trap #1
    “The web is a marketing tool.”
  • 18. User experience drives web success
    Marketing is just one component of a successful web strategy
  • 19. Instead…
  • 20. Trap #2
    “Everything must live in-house.”
  • 21. On Decisions
    • “This service must live in our data center”
    • 22. “We must place this behind our firewall”
    • 23. “The content management system must live here”
    • 24. “SaaS is not reliable”
    • 25. “Does that mean it will look different?”
  • The right location, a tale of two projects
    Center for the Advanced Study of
    Hominid Paleobiology
    Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (in development)
    • Large, multi-faceted prestigious research group
    • 26. Smithsonian, other University partnerships
    • 27. Advanced content management
    Planet Forward
    School of Media and Public Affairs
    Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
    • Innovative online community
    • 28. PBS partnership
    • 29. Basic content management plus online community needs
    Externally hosted managed
    CMS and online community
    Internal CMS implementation
  • 30. Evaluation criteria
  • Trap #3
    Fearing bureaucracy
  • 35. bureaucracy
    • Bureaucracy is a fact of University life
    • 36. “Strategy, not sparring”
    • 37. Educate upwards
    Bake people, process and technology into existing bureaucratic structures, establishing web governance.
  • 38. Trap #4
    Seizing all control
  • 39. Three big distinctions in higher ed
    • Structure completely hierarchical
    • 40. Web traditionally distant from the core mission (or is it? will revisit this point)
    • 41. Revenue/enrollment model complicates requirements
    Control is difficult in the academic community, and misguided
  • 42. Seizing control produces academic/corporate divide
    • “You must adhere to _________ .”
    • 43. “Our office must approve everything before it goes live”
    • 44. “Here are web content the requirements”
    • 45. “Our committee decided you cannot do it that way”
  • 46. Techniques
    • Guide, don’t require (Wording matters!)
    • 47. Advise, don’t insist
    • 48. Make compliance easy (e.g. Newsletter generator)
    • 49. Standard tools naturally standardize the end result (e.g. superior content management system bound to template will gain traction)
  • Trap #5
    “We know who we’re building for.”
  • 50. REDEFINING USE CASES; things we’ve seen
    • Current students browsing admissions sites
    • 51. Prospective students browsing information for current students
    • 52. Prospective partner institutions browsing information for current students
    • 53. Prospective students browsing internal department websites
    • 54. “Navigation-phobia” – the chronic Googlers
    • 55. Entrance paths that often defy logic
  • Trap #6
    The enterprise trap
  • 56. “We prefer large, expensive enterprise-class systems that have been in production in other Universities for at least 2 years”
  • 57. Open source on campus
    • The gap between open source and enterprise class web technologies is closing
    • 58. The web has its roots in academia, and open source has been there every step of the way
    • 59. Open source should be embraced, and evaluated along with other technologies
    • 60. Students are already there
  • Lessons learned: tips
  • 61. Tip #1
    Empowerment is key
  • 62. Empowering your constituency
    • Self-service over web service requests
    • 63. Collaborative issue tracking
    • 64. The illusion of control
    • 65. “If you build it, they will come”
    • 66. Full service consulting is a must
  • Tip #2
    Document, document, document
  • 67. Documentation
    • Establishes accountability
    • 68. Should be undertaken at every step of the process
    • 69. Is traditionally lacking from higher education web presences, which often grow from web talent within the academic community
    • 70. Is essential to sustainability of any system
  • Higher education web evolution
    Process artifacts are often created, and lost.
  • 71. Tip #3
    Break the waterfall, be agile
  • 72. Building the Web at the pace of research
    The traditional systems development lifecycle is not well suited to most higher education web projects
  • 73. Agility is often not an option
    • Continuous iteration
    • 74. Rapid prototyping
    • 75. Constant feedback
    • 76. Continual defect resolution and enhancement
    • 77. Reevaluate traditional production requirements
    • 78. Rapid Application Development
  • A comparison
    We’ve seen improvement in nearly every metric by adopting development agility.
  • 79. Tip #4
    Lose control
  • 80. Losing control
    • Rapid application development benefits all
    • 81. Guidelines, governance and buy-in are as powerful as programmatic control
    • 82. The web is organic
    • 83. Arbitrary control is counter productive
  • Tip #5
    Your competitors are not always who you think they are
  • 84. Where is the web in relation to a university's core mission?
  • 85. “The George Washington University, an independent academic institution chartered by the Congress of the United States in 1821, dedicates itself to furthering human well-being. The University values a dynamic, student-focused community stimulated by cultural and intellectual diversity and built upon a foundation of integrity, creativity, and openness to the exploration of new ideas. The George Washington University, centered in the national and international crossroads of Washington, D.C., commits itself to excellence in the creation, dissemination, and application of knowledge.”
  • 86. competition
    • Enrollment competition is only one piece of the puzzle
    • 87. Competition extends to:
    • 88. Student attention to university news and events
    • 89. Alumni participation and development
    • 90. Prestige, online and off line
    • 91. Academic attention on the web
    • 92. Use of in-house services vs. the wild west
  • Tip #6
    Do more than build websites
  • 93. The web is a means to an end
    • Build experiences
    • 94. Build communities
    • 95. Contributeto existing communities
    • 96. Embrace the semantic web
    • 97. Educate!
  • examples of On-campus expertise
  • 98. It is a privilege to work on the web.
  • 99. Contact information
    (202) 994-5497