Web Team Success in the Campus Environment

Jenny Johnson Wolf and Lee Staton, Indiana University Southeast

Define Success

  • Customer-centered process.
  • User-centered sites.
  • Branding-orientation.
  • Keeping sites “fresh.”
  • Team seen as established experts.
  • Adaptable, innovative, and collaborative.
  • On-time deliverables.
  • Meet expectations.
  • Helpful resource vs. controlling.
  • Improved site traffic.

How do we accomplish success? Teams and processes.

Team: It Takes A Village

  • Designer
  • Programmer
  • Account Manager
  • Copywriter/Editor
  • Researcher
  • Application Developer
  • Usability Expert
  • Information Architect
  • Accessibility

Build Your Team Based on Strengths

Recommended reading: Marcus Buckingham.

Do your employees get to do what they love every day?

Use Their Strengths

  • Know your team.
  • Know what can they do better than anyone.
  • WOO (winning others over).
  • Be willing to hire staff, then train them on the job.

Ensure Satisfaction

  • Keep your programmers engaged — let them stretch.
  • Keep your creatives happy.
  • Plan engaging meetings, lunches, and special functions.

Work Environment

  • Collaborative workspace: Interior decoration colors and designs.
  • Creative tools and virtual spaces.

Traps to Avoid

  • Being in the same space doesn’t mean communication will happen.
  • Encourage asking for help — make sure that questions move up the ladder.

Establish Team Members As Experts

  • Attend department meetings.
  • E-mail clients proactively.
  • Take the lead on projects.

Professional Development

  • Online training
  • Books
  • Software
  • Conferences
  • HR sessions
  • Customer-service training sessions
    • “Give ’em the Pickle” training: Extra level of service.
    • “Fish” training: Seattle Fish market that turns work into fun.


What Does Your Customer Look Like?

  • Harried.
  • Often not very tech savvy.
  • May never have looked at own site.
  • May like spinning, flashing stuff.
  • Feels pressure within own department, among peers.
  • Misinformed on what Web is and isn’t.
  • Doesn’t know about accessibility.
  • Afraid they will be left out of process.
  • Afraid there is something they won’t know.

Always focus on the goal: Web team success.

What Does Bad Team Collaboration Look Like?

  • “We know best” parental attitude.
  • Fake collaboration: Seeking input and not using it.
  • Don’t show clients the mockups until too late.
  • Leaves out key stakeholders.
  • Ignores relational issues.
  • Uses “one-size-fits-all” generic approach.
  • Leaving customer angry or frustrated.
  • Leaving a site customer who will not maintain site.

All aboard: We do want them to come along on the train.

Intelligent facilitation: Invest in a relationship with the client before it’s necessary for any project.

Initial Client Meeting

  • Meet the players.
  • Explain the process.
  • Focus on the stakeholders and relationships.
  • Discuss the look and feel: “What should the site say about you?”
  • Review the current site.
  • Guide expectations.
  • Admit to timeline limits.
  • Ask what other professional and personal sites they are using.
  • Introduce accessibility: Turn off the monitor and have the client use the site with a screen reader.
  • Be honest about the pipeline.

Traps to Avoid

  • Meeting only with Deans or department heads.
  • Meeting only with staff delegates.

Getting Started

  • Present and explain information architecture to client as bulleted outline.
  • Do usability testing, if possible.
  • Must content be provided by client?
  • Have a copy editor rewrite and edit pre-existing content.
  • Present design mockup or functional prototype.
  • Don’t get attached to results … it’s not art, it’s commerce.
  • Conduct usability testing on final prototype.

Client Approval and Pre-launch Testing

  • Go through pre-launch checklist.
  • A Web site is born!

Post-launch Cleanup and CMS Training

  • There are no perfect launches.
  • Your customer can (and should) help identify any problems.
  • If they won’t maintain it, it’s D.O.A.

Main Points

  • The human side is as important as the technical side.
  • For the team to succeed, you must have someone who can take the lead on the human side.
  • Momentum: Repeated success will carry you forward.
  • Both team and process are moving targets — iterate.

Signs of Success

  • Happy clients.
  • Bragging clients.
  • People keep asking you for your help.
  • Student workers don’t want to leave.
  • Work begets more work.
  • You present at HighEdWeb!