38: Web Governance at DePaul University w/ Zoe Jacobs

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Zoe Jacobs, Web Content Manager at DePaul University discusses the pros and cons of different website governance and ownership scenarios in higher ed.

I would imagine would be really hardto establish a new governance kind of out of nowhere, so I think itneeds to be tied to something. You're listening to enrollment growth university from HelixEducation, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollmentat their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's getinto the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member ofthe connect e Tou podcast network. I'm Eric Olson, AVP of marketing atHelix Education, and we're here today with Zoe Jacobs, web content manager atto Paul University. Zoe, welcome to the show. Thanks so much forhaving here. Thanks much for being here. Super excited to talk with you todayabout the pros and the cons of different website governance and ownership scenarios andhigher read before we dig into that, Zoe, can you give the listenersa little bit better understanding of both to Paul University and your role there?Sure thing. Yeah, so de Paul University is a large university in thecity of Chicago. We have around twenty three thou students and I work inthe Web Communications Department, which is part of the University Marketing Communications Department,which is within the division of Enrolling Management Marketing, and so we're a groupof about ten people, or a mix of front end developers, content strategistslike myself, content producers and designers, and we actually use a custom buildof share point for our cms that's developed and supported by our it department.And then we're sort of the collaborative owners and we consult on, of course, content. You axui design all that good stuff. Awesome, Zoe.Let's get started right of the bat with a really hard one. Who shouldown an institutions website, it or marketing? So that's a really good question tostart off with. I think it's sort of an overacting question. I'msure a lot of people deal with this at their institutions. So I thinkreally it depends on the organizational structure both...

...of the institution and of the CMS. So if your institution is using a cms that's in house, like weare, we have a we have the custom built version of of share point. It's all self supported. I think it should be a collaborative effort withmarketing owning the content, the design and the messaging and it supporting it froma system standpoint. But if you're CMS is vended and supported externally by athird party, and I think it should be owned entirely by marketing. Thecontent should always be owned by marketing because of the importance of a consistent brand, voice, tone and overall content strategy. The web is your institution's biggest marketingopportunity and should be treated as such. I think so it should be acollaborative effort, but the value of content and the consistency of the contentand the design strategy should be owned by a marketing department because of, youknow, enrollment goals and brand stewardship. Keeping that in mind, I think, is ideal. I think it's important in a team to have people thatkind of span both. I see a marketing though, we're really lucky thatwe have a lot of people who sort of straddle both of those lines,you know, understanding the technical aspect and how it how it connects to theend result, the marketing. End Result, I think, you know, dependson the institution, but overall I think it should be definitely collaborative.If not marketing, having most of the ownership. There's a fantastic answer andI'm super excited to dig a little deeper into some of those little offshoots.Institutions who use a content management system like you mentioned inherently have a somewhat decentralizedweb content governance in that it gives stakeholders throughout campus some sort of empowerment tocreate, to edit to publish. What are the critical things to consider froma governance standpoint when working with the CMS? So I think this is a reallyhuge balance. I think it's something that every institution probably has a differentapproach for. I think it's important to give stakeholders and subject matter experts theempowerment to create content and I think it's important that they have their input andyou know, these are people who really...

...understand their programs and really know whatthe INS and outs of what they offer is. But letting it be thewild west would be a huge problem. So I think balance is really crucial. One of the critical things to consider would be, aside from functional trainingfor the CMS, I think when it comes to content, is communicating yourcontent strategy and establishing structures for approval, which is, if you have alarge institution can be. We do it at the college level or department levelor whatever level is like a step up from the content creators. So wehave a sort of hierarchical system where we have power users in each area whoapprove content and oversee a larger pool of editors as a way to handle this. So I think it's important to consider the relationship that you, as likeYour Marketing Department or Web Department, have with these areas, and communicating yourmarketing strategy out to the power users as well as to the content creators isreally important. But this can be tough because, as much as you know, academics, professors, whoever these people are, are all about learning,there are some who think that they already know everything there is to know abouthow to describe their program and that, you know, that might be true, but they don't know how to do it. Maybe for the online audience, especially from mobile audience, people who are used to scanning people whose attentionspans are audience. Their attention spans are really short, and so I thinkcommunicating that strategy web why best practices. That's important for for maintaining consistent voice, but also for reining in that long overwritten content so I think good tieredapproval structure, especially if you're cms allows. It is a great way to managethis without micromanaging everything. We're a really large institution, so it wouldbe nearly impossible for us to like oversee every single bit of content that needsto be approved across all of our properties, and so we really look to thosepower users and to sort of rain in all of the people who aresubject matter experts but not maybe web experts. Yeah, that power user concept isreally interesting. So in those cases where the power user has that kindof last past editorial control, is there...

...anything that you're marketing team is doingto empower those power users to understand your brand standards to, you know,stay consistent with your overall voice? Yeah, so we have a resources website thatwe use to sort of give a like a style guide and best practicesoverview, and that really that was a really great way for us to getsort of our own basis out there, but then also just regularly communicating withthem. I think meeting with them regularly facetoface has really helped, especially whenunique situations have come up with content that we haven't thought of and we needtime to sort of work through them, with with those people to make surethat the end result will be optimal. But yeah, I think I thinkjust general communication with those with those users, with the with the power users andwith the content creators is really helpful, whether that's a resources site or aworkshops or on de band training or anything like that. What do youdo, if I'm trying to think of you know, do you believe institutionshould kind of create a governance model based on the fact that they do ordon't have people that they trust to be, you know, power users are not? For example, if there are certain faculty and programmed actors who areexcellent writers, who have a great enrollman mindset, you might inherently trust themto write their program page content, where in another department it's hard for youto find a power user. Is it important to create a governance system thathas flexibility based on the talents that you find within departments, or are youtrying to create a government system that that works no matter what telling you havein place? I think in a dream world would be great to have standardized, Evergreen governance model, but I think a lot of us have those morecustom models, especially when dealing with periods of time where resources are limited orwhen there's high turnover, that's when you'll start to see the holes in thein those custom models. But ideally a governance model that works no matter whatthe resources of the skills of the users would be the most sustainable and Ithink and hired. Especially today. We're...

...resilient and I think for a longtime there was this joke that was like, but that's the way we've always donethings, and that's really changed in the last few years. At leastI've seen it during my career over the last five years. It's seen itchange and I've talked with other people at other institutions at conferences and I thinkthat we're all sort of seeing that we've become more flexible and we adjust,we implement solutions that work across the enterprise more and more rather than those piecemealsolutions because we've seen the value in them, and I think that's something that Iwant to overtime see more of my own institution where we're not customizing governancemodels for each college based on what they have right now. We're looking atit in a bigger picture and making sure that there are, you know,fail safes and backups in place so that when people leave or, you know, people's job descriptions just change, because sometimes it's, you know, sometimesa power user will be a dedicated person who's like a marketing professional from acollege or a department and that person's whole job is like everything digital marketing forthat unit. But sometimes it's just a professor who like, happens to havea knack for the web or, like you said, is a really goodwriter, and maybe that person, you know, either gets promoted to chairand they just don't have enough time to devote to the web anymore or,you know, they had get an offer at another university. You know,you never know when people are going to leave. You need to make sureyou have at least a process in place too on board new, quote unquote, power users, if not a tiered system where there's more than one approverfor every unit, there's more than one power user, so that you knowif that person's out sick or if they leave, there's there's that backup.Awesome, awesome, Zoe. I think you've given us a couple clues alongthe way, but can you give us just a high level understanding of whatWeb Governance, what web content governance looks like at de Paul from a bird'seye view and what's working and what's not with that specific kind of governance.Yeah, so we have sort of a model. It's like a mix.So we serve as the central knowledge base of experts for Web content. Weown the information architecture and site structure for...

...all of our sites, which issomething that is built into our cms where we control, you know top allthe navigation, all that good stuff, and we own and manage, ofcourse, all of the content on the main Depaul University site to all theDou and we serve, of course, some partnership with our it department,as the source of support when they have questions or they need help or something's not working, we're the people that they turn to. But each collegein office has, of course, a group of site editors who can editand create content, and then those couple of approvers that are, you know, like power users, site owners that oversee those those at it's before theygo live. They're the ones who approve pages for publishing. And so it'ssort of a sort of a mix because we own, you know, regularto Paul that Edu content. And then there's also these college and office sitesthat have maybe a mix of of set maybe it's just one person, maybeit's a whole group of people, maybe it's a committee, you know.So it's sort of a mix. But we're recently we've tried to sort oftake really close look at the content that has an enrollment goal tied to it, so that's program pages and your degree description pages, and so we've recentlyactually taken on a project where we're enforcing a new government structure where we,as the marketing department, are writing and owning that content, but we're reallypartnering very closely with the units, the colleges and the departments to make surethat we're getting information that we need about the program so that we can organizeit and structure it the best way possible. So it's been it's been sort ofa collaborative effort throughout the university to partner with them and make sure that, even though we're going to be owning the content, that they still feellike it's accurate. And so we're using them, as you know, subjectmatter experts to help us really form the structure of the content make sure we'rehitting all the good points about what makes our programs unique. But then we'realso coming at it from marketing branding and...

...had that strategy perspective to make surethat's going to work best on the web, and it's been working out really wellfor us. Just recently we've we're still getting through all the colleges thatwe've been doing this and it's really working. So anything outside of those program pageswere allowing the Department or the college to own anything that's non recruitment focused. It's a really interesting and in really clever line to draw. Zoe,I can't thank you enough for coming on and and sharing your thoughts in thevery thoughtful approach that you've taken to Paul. Web Governance such a landmine at somany institutions and kind of this third rail in higher that never gets talkedabout and there are so many opportunities left in the table because of that.So super appreciate you helping to spread the good news of Web Governance. Anynext steps, advice you have for institutions who are listening to this and saying, boy, we got it, we got to establish some sort of webgovernments at our institution? Any pitfalls they should try to avoid? Sure,hang yeah, so I mean it's a really big left and I think especiallyestablishing governance outside of like either migrating to a new cms or starting like areally big project like us with this big enrollment based project, I would imaginebe really hard to establish new governance kind of out of nowhere. So Ithink it needs to be tied to something and I think it's really important tobe really transparent about why you're introducing a new governance structure. I think it'sreally important to make sure that the timing works really well for everyone. Ifyou're trying to, you know, implement a new governance structure and like themiddle of a time when most of the people who edit the website, especiallyif their faculty, are super busy, either like the end of the quarteror the beginning of the quarter or semester, that could be really difficult to tiping. I think is really important. But also just you getting getting peopleon board, getting by in from stakeholders, subject and our experts and making surethat you know when you're establishing governance, it's not police officer versus civilian,it's not like it's a collaborative effort and it should be transparent. Itshould be, I don't know how to...

...describe what we did, but Ithink the best thing to say is to be transparent about it and also haveit, have it be something that's part tied to a goal or tied toa project, and whether that's like, oh, we're gonna, you know, revamp the Seo of all of our sites. Hey, marketing is goingto come in and, you know, help you with all of your contentto make sure that you're hitting really good keywords. But we're doing all thebest practices for SEO and here's our dates and just sort of making that likethe the beginning point of why you need to establish the governance. So,Hey, we're going to help you with this. And I just wanted togive a quick shout out to something that I thought was incredible that I heardat those that confab eat you and two thousand and sixteen, rest in peace. Have Bett you, two thousand and sixteen. Shelley Keith had this presentationabout using on demand training as a means to establish governance. And so whatshe did was when they moved into and I think I think it was whenthey moved into a new cms, but she provides on demand training for peoplewho want to be able to edit the website. So they have to gothrough this online training that she's set up then take a test at the endof it and if they passed the test, then they can get permissions to thewebsite. And I think that's a really cool way to do it becauseit's sort of like a reward at the end of it and you make surethat you're getting through that only the how to use the cms part of atraining, but also she can put the best practices stuff in there and thequisite end can really give her insight into that person's strength without having to belike they're all the time for in person training. So I think if youcan establish sort of a reward like that, if you are going to implement governancethat is like cms structure, like editing structure oriented, that's a reallygreat way to do it. I just love that idea. I think it'sso cool and I want to do that. Reason had here. We move intoa cms, we upgrade or something. I really want to do that becauseI think it's brilliant. It's a brilliant way to, you know,get people to understand like why I've not only why you're implementing this governance,exture wire changing things, but also like teach them, make it like aknowledge sharing experience and then reward them with...

...the permissions at the end of thatexperience. Such good stuff. Zoe, thanks so much for joining us today. What is the best place for listeners to connect to you they have anyFolo up questions? Yeah, sure so. My personal twitter is Zoe i Barker, but then you can also follow us at Depaul Webcom with two MSand then you can also ejem me and Zee Barker at de Paul. Thated you awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today, Zoe.Thank you so much. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollmentstrategies. Kelix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquelyhelping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has justpublished the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new contenton how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges, downloaded today forfree at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth universityfrom Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe tothe show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much forlistening. Until next time,.

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