Monday, 21 September 2009

10 harsh truths about university websites

Paul Boag speaks at the 2009 CASE conference about the problems faced by all universities in the management of their websites. It's an excellent presentation (the related articles are worth reading too).

If you've not encountered at least some of these either you're very lucky or you have your head in the sand.

My quick summary of his 10 points:
  1. Politics is killing your site
  2. Course finders suck
    • You sell courses
    • Stop copying and pasting the prospectus
  3. A lack of direction and focus
  4. Great content needs central control
  5. Too many techies and marketers
    • Techies driven by tech solutions, users want transparency and honesty, not broadcast marketese
    • Techies and marketers rarely work in harmony
  6. Your site is bloated and out of date
  7. If you try to appeal to everybody, you appeal to nobody
  8. Users don’t care about your organisational structure
  9. Social media is hard
    • Twitter, Facebook, YouTube are just tools for engagement – not the goal in themselves
  10. A CMS is not a silver bullet
    • Everybody hates their CMS. Why?
Full presentation audio and slides:

10 harsh truths about institututional websites - presentation by Paul Boag

Harsh truths in articles
And a couple of articles by Paul which were probably the basis for his presentation:

10 harsh truths about corporate websites - article by Paul Boag for Smashing Magazine
10 ways to battle site bureaucracy - article by Paul Boag

If you haven't got time for the presentation, read the first one on corporate websites.

Most of the clients I work with are large organizations: universities, large charities, public sector institutions and large companies. Over the last 7 years, I have noticed certain recurring misconceptions among these organizations. This post aims to dispel these illusions and encourage people to face the harsh reality.

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