Director, Creative Web Services, Western Kentucky University
Web Application Developer, Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University found themselves tasked with a complete website recreation using a CMS a few years ago. Today, they shared with us how they managed to undertake this giant task and how they were able to get their community onboard. In a time of such change it is common for there to be naysayers, and those that do not want to put in the extra time and effort a project like this takes, especially if they do not believe it is part of their job. So how did they make this daunting task a reality?
Before they began the project, they had several questions to ask themselves. How many sites do you anticipate? How many users? User levels? What is your timeline? Who will manage your project? Who will facilitate training? Who will you ask for help? By asking these questions, they were able to get a deeper understanding, and better grasp on what it would entail before beginning. They also made it a goal to make sure that both marketing, and IT, came together and kept in constant communication with one another. They may speak different languages, but the end-goal is the same on both ends.
Once these questions were answered, training programs and implementation steps were developed. It is easy to let websites go for long periods of time without updates and fresh content. In order to make sure this would not be the case, extensive training programs were offered often, to make sure users understood how to use the new CMS. Training was offered in several different ways, from self-service sites, to video tutorials, and hands-on training. If people are informed in what they are doing, it is much more likely for them to actually do it. They also created a website that gave users a place to view templates and see various options in action. This allowed users to to envision their content in the new space.
There was a lot to take away from this presentation, especially for anyone that is about to undertake such a large scale overhaul. It is very important to establish a strong team with constant communication and a good relationship. The more resources you are able to offer for your users, the better off you will be. After all, once someone understands something, change will be a lot less scary. Finally, try and implement at least one change suggested by your naysayers. Everyone wants to be heard, and it shows respect and understanding to listen to their voices. Large projects can be scary, stressful, and time consuming. But if you’re willing to put in the time for planning and communication with your campus community, everyone can come together to make for a successful launch.