At a presentation last week, someone asked me how we “know” which updates we should be making to our websites. They asked if there was a ‘gold standard’ higher education or corporate website to reference.
The truth is, no . . . there is no perfect website that we can model ourselves after. You might look at university A and see that they have a great homepage, but that their admissions website is not so good. Or that university B has a great giving/advancement website. Or that university C handles their news reporting well, but not their academic content.
We base our upgrade decisions on the latest industry standards and trends and rely on professional development to stay current. We follow not only higher ed trends, but also general web and technology trends. We supplement this approach with strategic benchmarking and user testing that focuses on the specific project that we are working on, such as a “forestry website” or an “online giving form”—to borrow the best parts of what others have done to blend in with a department’s goals and our own experiences and expertise.
With a small team and limited resources, we are not always on the cutting edge. Rather, we make sure that new techniques or technologies serve both our customer’s and the University’s strategic goals.
Being a webmaster has evolved into a highly skilled, complicated profession over the past few years as expectations for web design, function, and maintenance have grown. Below are some of the topics that are top-of-mind right now along with resources we use to stay sharp in an ever-changing environment.
We have outlined some of the hottest topics in the web industry. The Digital Services team has recently implemented or is in the process of implementing each of these technologies and concepts as a part of our new template and website rollout. Each topic is linked to an external overview website.
- Structured Data Markup
- AMP Articles
- Facebook Instant Articles
- Social Media Data Tagging
- ARIA (Accessibility) Tagging
- Apple News App
- Google Play Newsstand App
- Social Media to Push News
- Responsive Design
Professional Development Resources
The Digital Services team uses a number of resources to keep our skills sharp and learn new concepts, trends, and implementations. If you have a good resource that is not on this list, please share with us. We are always looking to expand our network!
We use 5% time to encourage continual professional development within the team. The last two hours of each Friday (5% of the work week) is dedicated to professional development. Additionally, we are firm believers in traveling to web conferences and with networking with other universities to learn and share new ideas.
Analytics and SEO
Web Design / UX / UI
- Higher Education Web Professionals
- E-Expectations Research Reports
- Inside HigherEd
- The Chronicle
- Bob Johnson
- Annual HighEdWeb Conference
- Web Accessibility Training
- UX Immersion: Interactions
- WPCampus Conference
- SMX East
- Content Marketing World
Digital Services Manager