Students, Services, Silos, and Sanity: A Content Transformation Story

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All the cool kids seem to be doing it: bringing financial aid, tuition payments, registration, and other student services together under one virtual umbrella—the coveted “one-stop shop.” Not surprisingly, creating a web presence for previously siloed offices can prove challenging. There are limited resources, wide-ranging audiences, long histories of territorialism—and we haven’t even started digging into the content. Using the George Washington University’s recent undertaking as an example, this presentation will discuss the ups and downs of creating a single web presence for multiple organizations: gathering project support with user research and analytics, identifying where organizational challenges impact content, and keeping the peace—and your sanity—amid stakeholder tension. Delivered at Confab Higher Ed, November 12, 2013

Text of Students, Services, Silos, and Sanity: A Content Transformation Story


2. This is a story ABOUT CHANGE. 3. Changing /WEBSITES 4. Changing /CONTENT 5. Changing /MY ATTITUDE 6. I am a CS/IA/UX/OMG 7. I work at THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY / 8. Where we BUILD WEBSITES FOR GW SCHOOLS, OFFICES, & PROGRAMS 9. Like /STUDENT SERVICES 10. ENROLLMENT TUITION SCHOLARSHIPS BILLING COURSE REGISTRATION LOAN APPLICATIONS TRANSCRIPTS STUDENT ACCOUNTS VETERAN BENEFITS 11. The challenge: WE NEED A WEBSITE. 12. aka A ONE-STOP SHOP 13. Single PLATFORM 14. Multiple AUDIENCES 15. Multiple OFFICES 16. CONTENT ISscattered 17. CONTENT ISdisorganized 18. CONTENT ISduplicated 19. EVENcontradictory 20. Goal: A SEAMLESS, ON-BRAND WEB EXPERIENCE THAT EMPOWERS USERS 21. SO HOW DO YOU TACKLEthat? 22. Magic! 23. I mean research. 24. COMPETITIVEresearch 25. ANALYTICSresearch 26. USERresearch 27. Personas 28. Marcus NEWSTUDENT Major:UndecidedinColumbian CollegeofArts&Sciences Hometown:Albany,NY Goal:Signupfortherightclasses withoutanyhassle.I had no idea my loans could mess up my registration. 29. Lenore STAFF Oce:OceofStudentFinancial Assistance Hometown:Washington,DC Goal:Beaguidewhenstudents andparentsarelostinthesystem.You have to be patient. You have to remember that theyre just kids. 30. Gary PARENT Profession:Lawyer Hometown:Trumbull,CT Goal:HandletransacLonsas quicklyandecientlyaspossible.Why isnt this easier? Im paying enough money for it, after all. 31. Cardsorting 32. Brainstorming 33. UX problem solved, then, yeah? 34. WE CANT UPDATE THE CONTENT IF ITS ON THAT WEBSITE. 35. Content ownership concerns 36. BUT WE JUST REDID OUR WEBSITE. 37. Digital fatigue 38. WE CANT WORK ON THIS UNTIL THE SEMESTER ENDS. 39. Lack of time & resources 40. OUR OFFICE ISNT THE PROBLEM. 41. Silos 42. Oh. 43. THERE ARE people INVOLVED, TOO. 44. AND PEOPLE HAVEfeelings. 45. OUR JOB IS MOREthan our tactics. 46. Empathy IS ACTUALLY REALLY HARD. 47. A SHORT LIST OF THINGS I DO NOT HAVE:Patience 48. Be kind. 49. Listen: ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR CONCERNS 50. Include: MAKE THEM A PART OF THE PROCESS 51. Flex: TAKE CONSTRAINTS INTO ACCOUNT 52. WHAT IFit doesnt work? 53. KINDNESS IS ANattitude,NOT A TACTIC. 54. YOU CANT NECESSARILY EMOTE YOUR WAY THROUGH THIS. 55. STRESS IS THE AMOUNT THAT YOUargue with reality. - CY WAKEMAN 56. Recognize WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL. 57. Talk: GET PEOPLE TOGETHER. 58. Share: OVERCOMMUNICATE. 59. Test: BACK UP FEELINGS WITH NUMBERS. 60. Test: BACK UP NUMBERS WITH FEELINGS. 61. Celebrate: EMBRACE SMALL VICTORIES. 62. DID ITwork? 63. SO WEtransformed THE CONTENT 64. FROM SCATTERED TOorganized 65. FROM SUSPICIOUS TOtrustworthy 66. FROM SILOED TOconnected 67. BUT WE HAVE TO DO THE SAMEfor the people behind the content. 68. Content reects THE PEOPLE & PROCESSES THAT MAKE IT. 69. WHEN WE THINK ABOUTcontent owners 70. AS MUCH AS WE THINK ABOUTour users 71. BUILDING Abetter experience 72. Becomes A BETTER EXPERIENCE. 73. Thank you, Confab!LISA MARIA MARTIN@REDSESAME