The Redesign Begins

Today was the first meeting of the University’s new Web Advisory Committee. It’s a great group of people. To a person, they are engaged in the conversation about how to make our public Web presence work better as a marketing tool and as a better-organized resource for information the University community needs.

For sure, there is an appetite to change the content management system we are now using. Contribute has run its course, the design is dated, and the servers are huffing and puffing. Jim Groom did an awesome job of extolling the virtues of WordPress, and I believe folks in the room were on board. Jim showed us how Lafayette College used WordPress to re-tool its Web site. We also talked, in earnest, about the possibilities of better use of UMW Blogs content as a tool to market all the cool things that UMW students and faculty are doing. The transparent university lives!

First on our plate is to answer, once and for all, the age old question of internal vs. external content. We’ve talked about portals in the past. What other tools are out there? With the lions share of total Web pages on our site targeting internal users, it seems that this issue needs some major attention if we are going to re-tool it with a focus on marketing. Folks on the committee were charged with finding out how their respective cohorts at other institutions handle this issue. It’s important to ask these questions at the functional area level since each area of the University has different business, regulatory, and communications needs. We may indeed find that one size does NOT fit all, but the only way to begin to tackle that question is to know what’s out there.

Our next meeting will be held on Friday, October 15. If you have feedback for the committee, or would like to know more about the process, please feel free to submit your comments on this blog.

Meanwhile, I’m attaching the Powerpoint that lays out our process for beginning this project, as well as some background information.