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What is Wrong with Our Websites?

Department leadership and many faculty and staff are realizing that our college and departmental webpages are, in some cases, badly out of date. This is appropriately distressing since we use these sites to help attract future faculty, graduate students, and staff, and inform current students about our programs. The delay has occurred as we waited to align our web landscape with the release of a new design system the central communications team introduced recently. When we are done, our websites will be used for our external audiences and their outward-facing needs. For employee communication needs, we will have an intranet.

The new websites will be built on a WordPress platform, which is easier to update and maintain locally. In the meantime, our websites are currently in two platforms, and one (PHP) required security updates this summer that now makes it very time-consuming to update. We have a dozen departments as well as other websites in this format that must migrate to the WordPress site as soon as possible. (Click here to find out if your unit is in this group.) I am working with Amanda and her team, as well as college leadership, to put a plan in place that will help departments move from the old PHP platform as soon as possible.

Our Process: Content Audits

Kayla Lang, our college digital communications manager, has served on committees in the central design effort and worked hard to develop a strategic approach in the college for this massive digital transformation. We are lucky to have her at the helm. For nearly a year, our communications team has shared their process. The first step – meeting with Kayla to discus website needs at the department level and identifying someone in the department to be the web point-person. That individual can be a staff or faculty member. The next step is conducting an audit of department websites before moving to new WordPress sites.

Every unit must complete an audit of their website before anything else can happen. The college communications team cannot do this for you. You are the experts for your units and know what content needs to be kept, edited, or what needs to be deleted. Using the content audit workbook provided by Kayla, every department must conduct an audit before the college invests resources in rebuilding websites in WordPress. This process should only take 2-3 minutes per page. Units average 50 pages to be checked, therefore, this is a reasonable task to complete before the start of the spring semester. We will begin migrating the PHP sites as soon as they are audited.

Already in WordPress?

For those departments already in WordPress, I am asking you to conduct the audit AND find people in your unit to help with critical updates now, such as information about faculty, graduate students, or programs. At the college level we are working to invest in more resources to make the transition for all pages into the new university design on the WordPress platform as efficiently as possible.

The sooner we can get this done, the better we will be able to attract future faculty, staff, and students to our college. If you are reading this and are willing to help with a few hours of work over the next two months to get through the audit phase and updates for units already in WordPress, please let your department leadership know.

Thank you,
Theresa M. Lee
Herbert Family Dean
College of Arts and Sciences