How web teams work, content strategy, and personas

Duncan Stephen
Wednesday 11 December 2013

Great web teams are highly collaborative

A couple of weeks ago this newsletter featured some of the lessons learned by the Norwegian Cancer Society about how important user-centred design is for increasing their donations (rather than relying on unsubtle banner adverts that get ignored by the users).

This article looks at how the same organisation moved away from the devolved content model. This is exactly the direction we are moving in with the new Study at St Andrews website, and I would highly recommend reading this article to get an idea of the reasons why, and some more techniques that we might like to adopt in the future.

The departments no longer own the content. They’re sources. For many years, distributed publishing has been the preferred model for website management. Give control to the department / author, the thinking went. They know their own content better than anyone. Distributed publishing was also cheaper because you didn’t need a central team. In other words, you didn’t need to hire professionals.

However, distributed publishing has major weaknesses:

It can result in silo-based publishing and thinking. There is no overview of everything that is being published and this leads to organization-centric writing and duplication as different silos create the same content.

Many content authors like to publish their own content. This can result in a content explosion that causes confusing navigation and search. Also, as the site grows bigger it becomes harder to manage and review.

Content strategy for higher ed: tips from Confab

The Web Editors blog reports from a higher education content strategy conference that took place in the US.

There is a good recap on empathy, a major theme on the conference. Many people often tend to think that the challenge of the web is mainly a technology problem. But those of us that work in the web know that it is really more of a people problem. We need to be able to understand the business and what our content owners want. Simultaneously, we must also be able to remove ourselves from our bubble and be able to put ourselves in the users’ shoes.

But perhaps even more interesting are the statistics about mobile usage in the US. 35% of Americans have no internet access at home, but 91% have a mobile phone. Food for thought, and yet another reminder of how important it is for our websites to be compatible with mobile devices.

Higher education personas

Neil Allison from the University of Edinburgh has collected some resources from other universities about how best to use personas.

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