Web content editors… 500+ to train and learn from
Early in November I traveled to Denmark to the J.Boye Aarhus 2009 conference in Aarhus for a presentation on “Rating Higher Education Websites: The Student Experience” that’s posted now at my SlideShare site.
Rie Zimmer Rasmussen, web coordinator in the project office at University of Southern Denmark (17,000 students in 5 major academic areas), joined me to outline how that university works with more than 500 “web editors” throughout the university to achieve visitor-friendly web content. My first impression: this was a more organized program than any I’ve seen here in the United States.
Review the complete web management system
The university enjoys a well-structured web management system. Rie has sent a 6-page PDF that outlines it. You can read online or download a copy from SlideShare.
What first attracted me was the plan to improve the skills of the web editors and the recognition that doing this throughout the University was an essential part of building an effective website.
Web editors learning together
Web editors are not full time. Rie notes that “at least” 70 percent of their work time is spent on other tasks. Editors have access to the CMS, but not without training. The flexible program allows for different existing skills on the part of people about to become web editors.
- First step often is an introduction by a local “web coordinator” in the area where the web editor will work, including web content guidelines.
- An alternative option (sometimes combined with the coordinator’s intro) is a 6-hour basic course offered about 6 times a year for up to 10 people at a time. Content of the course is outlined near the end of the SlideShare document.
- A “web editor’s workshop” is offered as an advanced course for people who are already working with the CMS. Content is set with the participants and might include anything from stucture/navigation, graphics, text, search engine optimization and more.
Two key (and obvious?) lessons
First, it takes many people to keep a website up-to-date for the people who use it and they will benefit from a structured program that gives them the skills needed at the start.
Second, it makes great good sense to plan a way for people to share what they’ve learned and to identify new areas where additional training is needed. The advanced course can meet that need.
How about your university? What would it take to implement a web editors program like this? If you have something similar, let me know in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Next J.Boye Conference in Philadelphia
The next conference for those who work on websites is in Philadelphia, May 4-6. A higher education track is included and there is extra value is meeting people building better websites from areas outside the college and university sector. Check the program as it develops.
That’s all for now.