Politics or treason: Toeing the line or begging forgiveness in site adaptation #heweb11

View Session Details and Presenter’s Bio.

Photo by konjure, Flickr.

Anne Petersen (@apetersen) of the University of  Illinois at Chicago may have shared the most re-tweeted acronym of HighEdWeb this year: FAVEs. Or Faculty Against Virtually Everything.

So what do you do when a FAVE or a HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion; another good one) wants to take over your homepage or social media channel with content that is important to them, and not necessarily to your users? That was the topic of Anne’s presentation, in which she presented specific examples and advice on how to negotiate these situations with your dignity and homepage more or less in tact.

A favorite tactic of mine from Anne’s talk: develop standards. For example, if you want something on the homepage, you must provide a photo that is not a headshot. Or to be included on the homepage your site must serve the undergraduate student population and be updated weekly. Or something. Something you can point to and s say, “OK, here is what we’ve developed to keep the homepage consistently good and useful, and here is how you can meet those standard so we can add your content.”

Of course, that approach won’t always work. Or, to quote Mike Tyson, as Anne did: “everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.” Standards must be tested to see if they can be regularly met, and you will always run into the FAVE who insists on doing it his or her way. What then? As Anne suggests, “think like a hacker.” There has got to be a way to get this done so that we satisfy the request without disrupting the experience of the most important people of all.

No, not the HiPPOs. The users. As Anne so eloquently concluded: we matter. We are the ones who stand between a student and the information they need to make it through whatever point they are at in their academic lives. We can make it easier or harder for them to find a scholarship opportunity that will help them stay in school. Or a student service that will help them not flunk calculus. So as Anne’s hacker friends would say: Just fudgin’ DO IT!