New EdWeb sites – data gathering and prioritisation
We’ve got a growing list of sites wanting to come into EdWeb, and we’re trying to make sure these sites are managed and brought in in a fair way.
We must be doing something right. We’re getting more requests all the time from business units around the university wanting to publish websites using EdWeb – either brand new sites or existing sites looking to move in and use the centrally-supported service.
This is great news, but our job now is to make sure sites are able to join the service in a sensible way, resulting in high-quality websites and editors to maintain them who feel well-supported by the CMS service. Unit staff need to be trained and we need to have enough support resource to help them create and build their site – this can take up a lot of our time.
We’ve piloted a couple of new sites to smooth out the kinks in this process, and we’re now at the stage of looking at our list of all the new sites that want to come in and working out where we go now.
Why do we need to plan?
Some (potential) site owners are keen to just attend training and get going. If that unit’s already in EdWeb, and is up and running with a good understanding of how it all works, then we can just give them a new homepage and let them get on with it. For brand new units, though, things get more complicated. Giving everyone free access once they’ve completed training could mean:
- Long delays getting a space on training.
- Insufficient support being available because so many people are building sites at once.
- Delays at the QA stage due to a backlog; sites being less likely to pass QA stage as they’ve not had the access to support. They eventually need to be updated because then something else has changed.
- Potential EdWeb issues caused by large-scale uploads, moving and creation going on at once.
- Redirect issues – IS Apps need to carefully manage what’s going on with URLs.
Is EdWeb the right tool?
It’s also really important to establish whether EdWeb is the right CMS. We’ve put a lot of work into creating something that works for many different use cases across the University, but there might be cases where EdWeb isn’t the right tool.
- Who needs to access the site?
- Are the site owners happy with the look and feel (University branding)?
- Are there collaboration needs?
- Who’s going to be responsible for maintaining the content?
So what’s the answer?
We’re looking at all the different factors involved in creating a new site
- Starting with high-profile sites seems sensible in many ways, but many of these sites are large and complex – they could take up a lot of time, during which several smaller sites could have been live.
- We don’t want to necessarily go with first-come-first-served, or site owners we (or more senior figures) have got chatting to – this means whoever shouts the loudest gets in first, which doesn’t seem fair
- For dedicated editorial support or site building, we may need to charge (this was the model we used getting sites into Polopoly), but we don’t want our editorial and support team too distracted creating sites for units with money, whilst other – potentially more urgent – sites struggle for support.
We’re trying to establish prioritisation metrics in a fair way. To this end, we’ll be sending out a survey to everyone who’s looking to get a new EdWeb site to establish what they need.
At August’s Web Publishing Community, we’ll be talking to the group about what they think makes one site more urgent than another. Come and join us to have your say.
What can we do in the meantime?
The space in EdWeb we give you to build your site is only a small part of the picture. If you need a new website, get busy! We can still help you with planning work.
Before you can build a website you must:
- establish what your website objectives are, and get them agreed by everyone in your unit.
- start pulling together content in line with these objectives
- Decide your site structure, based on your content and objectives.
- Edit your content so that it reads as great Writing for the Web practice.
You’ll probably want to start thinking about images for your site, too – do you need to take new photographs?
To do a really great job, you might also want to:
Talk to some of your key audiences about what they want from your site, and what they like or dislike about your current site, if you have one.
- Look at web stats, like Google Analytics
- Test, prototype (this can be done on paper or using a tool like Balsamiq), test some more.
We can help you with any of these things through firstname.lastname@example.org, even if it’ll be a while before you can build the final site.