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Inside Out: How Campus Portals Influence Web Strategy. John Fritz, UMBC Charlie Melichar, Colgate University CASE Online Seminar February 10, 2005. In a nutshell . . . Higher ed portals grow out of user demand for more self-service functions they experience on the Web generally.

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Inside out how campus portals influence web strategy l.jpg

Inside Out: How Campus Portals Influence Web Strategy

John Fritz, UMBC

Charlie Melichar, Colgate University

CASE Online Seminar

February 10, 2005


In a nutshell l.jpg
In a nutshell . . .

  • Higher ed portals grow out of user demand for more self-service functions they experience on the Web generally.

  • What happens when current (internal) and prospective (external) audiences meet? Do we help them do so? Should we?

  • Few of us have technical resources (or mandates) to meet user expectations across their life cycle with us. Collaboration is key.

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Overview

  • How has the Web changed?

  • How has our strategy changed?

  • How do we get there from here?

  • Cool Stuff: Blogs, E-Newsletters, RSS

  • Links, Q & A, Contact Info.

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How has the Web changed?

From Presence to Experience


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From “Presence” to “Experience”

  • Past: Provide information

    • Content, navigation, infrequent updates

    • Focus is on designing a web “presence”

  • Present: Deliver services & functions

    • Online registration, pay online, online giving, etc.

    • Focus is on programming & technical engineering

  • Future: Build community & experience

    • Online Learning, SIGs, CMS, BLOGS

    • Focus is on community and the user “experience”

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Evolution of a Site

Community

(End users connect)

Interaction

(self-service, functions)

Information

(info., facts, directions, etc.)

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Markets are Conversations

  • “As soon as I stopped seeing journalists as a source of free advertising for my employer, I started having genuine conversations with genuinely interesting people. . . .

  • Then something even more amazing happened. The company started "getting ink." Lots of it. And not in the lowly trade rags it had been used to, but in places like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and Business Week.

  • Christopher Locke, www.cluetrain.com (1999)

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Q & A

How has the Web changed?


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Watcha doin’ over there?

  • The PR office is gaining ground on control of the web – but what about the portal?

    • Internal audience is a key constituency

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Mission of the www site

  • A powerful, usable portal allows for focus on the external audience for the www site

  • More opportunities for targeted communication with internal audiences via the portal

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Integrated Communications

  • Content should bleed through from portal to www and vice-versa

  • You are dealing with different audiences, but don’t re-create the wheel – syndicate your content

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Portal impact on www

  • Customization features in a portal allow for a streamlined user experience on www

  • Key is seamless integration of portal functionality into the www site

    • Get to know your users AS they browse through your site – drill-down opportunities

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How has our strategy changed?

New Tools

Collaboration


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New Tools

  • Portal Software

  • Web Content Management Systems (CMS)

  • Decision point: build or buy?

  • Tip: Involve a core team on both the portal and CMS strategy & implementation.

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Polling Question

What’s Your Portal Like?

  • My school operates a portal.

  • I actually use it.

  • I’m involved in running it.

  • What’s a portal?

    Pick best answer

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Portal Definition

  • A portal provides personalized information & functions in return for a user identifying himself or herself through a login.

  • Value proposition:

    • You tell us who you are, and we'll provide information tailored to your needs, as you define them in your user profile.

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What I Want . . . (John)

  • Portal content that entices a user to join

  • Sense of community that isn’t “scrubbed”

  • Hyperlinks to

    • Course descriptions & pre-reqs

    • Faculty bios (re-use media experts list)

    • Available seats

    • Progress-toward-degree check

    • Student AND teacher evaluations of past classes

    • Guest access to course Web site, if available.

  • Login prompt ONLY for personal info.

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Role-based Configuration

Role-based Polling and Surveys

Content Management and Distribution

Online Directory

Access to External Applications

Secure Distribution

Employment Listings and Applications

Training Registration

Bookmarks and Web Notes

Instant Messaging

Alumni Mentoring Program

Calendaring

Student Elections

News & Entertainment

Desirable Portal Features

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Benchmarking: Research

  • Articles & Sites About Portals

    • “The Power of Portals,” Chronicle of Higher Education

      • http://chronicle.com/free/v48/i48/48a03201.htm

    • uPortal by JA-SIG

      • http://mis105.mis.udel.edu/ja-sig/uportal

    • “Charting a Smooth Course for Portal Development,” Educause Quarterly

      • http://www.educause.edu/asp/doclib/abstract.asp?ID=EQM0134

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Polling Question

How do you manage your content?

  • Roll our own HTML: FrontPage, DreamWeaver, text editor.

  • Homegrown CMS

  • Commercial, Vendor CMS

  • What’s a CMS?

    Pick best answer

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Definition: A CMS Analogy

  • CMS = similar to mail merge programs for the Web

    • Build a letter shell (site/page template)

    • Store names (content) in text (data) file

    • Merge (publish) the two as seamless documents (web pages)

    • A CMS can help (but not decide) who merges what, when, where, and why (workflow).

    • Good Resources:

      • www.cmswatch.com

      • www.contentmanager.eu.com/choosing.htm

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Issues

  • “Sixty percent of businesses that purchase a CMS go back to doing it themselves.”

    • Hilary Marsh, President, Content Company, at 2003 Ragan Web Content Management Conference.

  • Why?

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Opportunities

  • Integration/syndication of content.

    • University of Buffalo (http://www.buffalo.edu)

    • Hamilton College (http://www.hamilton.edu)

    • Colgate (http://www.colgate.edu)

  • CMS hunches, not suggestions:

    • Macromedia Contribute (http://www.macromedia.com/contribute)

    • Reddot.com (http://www.reddot.com)

    • Paperthin (http://www.commonspot.com)

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Collaboration

Working with IT Staff


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Polling Question

How’s your IT & PR relationship?

  • IT controls our site

  • PR controls our site

  • We have a team approach

  • Don’t ask

    Pick best answer

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Issues

  • Control of the Site is not the cause of the problem.

  • The Web makes strange bedfellows of IT and Advancement because of mission (internal vs. external) and focus (deep vs. broad).

  • How to serve both with limited resources and no precedent or mandate for collaboration?

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Getting involved

  • Work with IT: Get involved in conversations about the portal.

  • Focus on design, usability: These areas aren’t always at the front of the conversation – provide some input

  • Cost: can’t afford to duplicate effort.

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Start a Collaborative Forum

  • eMedia (UMBC)

  • CWIC (Colgate)

  • Georgetown’s GUIde Committee

    • http://guide.georgetown.edu

  • University of Georgia Web Group

    • http://www.uga.edu/design/gwg.html

  • Univ. of Buffalo Web Team

    • http://buffalo.edu/webteam

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Opportunities for PR People

  • “Most technologists do a poor job designing applications because they simply don’t understand how [people] use or learn technology. Where writers and communications professionals can help is by bringing an eye that is more akin to the user’s, asking questions, and putting technology into the context of the business process.”

    • Jack Suess, UMBC’s CIO, in CASE Currents, April 2004.

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Q & A

How has our Strategy Changed?


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Blogs Defined

  • Technical:

    • A Blog (aka Web Log) is an online, form-based method of publishing that does not require an author to know HTML.

    • A CMS without workflow & approval

  • Functional:

    • Typically, a blog consists of short, frequent, diary-like entries or “posts” that reflect an author’s personal perspective. It’s quick, easy and cheap.

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Blogs: Issues

  • Site-wide integration of content may be challenging with Blogs.

  • Hosting: in-house or outsource?

  • Sustaining momentum.

  • Little, if any, workflow approval.

  • Management may not be comfortable with “free form” communication.

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Psst… Guess what? You’ve already lost control

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Blogs: Opportunities

  • Cheap, easy, publishing

  • May be an interim step that leads to organizational need of a CMS.

  • Excellent Blog Presentation: (http://www.37signals.com/blogprez)

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E-Newsletters: Issues

  • Build, don’t buy

    • Use addresses of those who have expressed interest and ALWAYS give them the opportunity to unsubscribe or change their preferences

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E-Newsletters: Opportunities

  • CMS or blogs could re-purpose targeted content to subscribers.

  • Email-to-a-friend functionality is powerful.

  • Substance more important than style.

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Keep in mind…

  • Push-Pull

    • Use the newsletter to bring users back to your website – think strategically

      • Links to the application, visit days, key programs

  • Flexibility of format

    • Not everyone can see HTML email

    • Text email needs to be short and sweet

      • Direct them to a webpage, where possible

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Collect feedback

  • Use links to provide opportunities for feedback

  • Track your stats!

    • Use analytics to see what users are looking at, and make decisions based on their preferences not your biases

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RSS: The next generation

  • RSS is coming (actually, it’s already here), so be ready

  • Drive content directly to your audience, in real time, on their terms

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Value of News Sites

  • Whether displayed inside the portal or on the external site, news keeps your site fresh.

  • Syndicating content usually means repurposing your news along the curiosity trails users will follow on your site.

  • Issue: do your portal and www site talk to each other technically?

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Links

  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld, (http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/infotecture2)

  • Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug, (http://www.sensible.com)

  • Educause “Consumer Guide to IT on Campus” (http://www.educause.edu/consumerguide)

  • University Web Developers (http://www.usask.ca/web_project/uwebd)

  • New Media Centers “Horizon Report” (http://www.nmc.org/horizon)

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Thanks & Follow Up

  • Thanks for participating. For any unanswered questions, please send e-mail to [email protected] by February 17, 2005.

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