MMP8: Herding Cats: Web Governance in Higher Education

Mark Greenfield 
Director of Web Services, University at Buffalo

The audio for this podcast can be downloaded at

Announcer: This is one in a series of podcasts from the HighEdWeb Conference in Austin 2011.

Mark Greenfield: I've been giving lots of presentations over the years and this is the one I think that is the least exciting, but probably the most important. I'm going to talk a little bit about governance.

Before I get started, a couple of things about myself if you don't know me. Here's where you can connect with me. I'm going to give a little shout-out to the UWEBD social network. How many people are not on the UWEBD social network? I am hoping I'm going to find nine hands, actually. A couple. We are nine people short from being at the 4,000-member mark. We have people from 75 countries on that site. We're looking at a way to leverage that and we're going to continue to grow that as we go.

You will find the slides, all of the articles and things I reference, at this URL. If you go there right now, you're going to get a 'Page not found', intentionally. I like to tell stories, and if I share my slides ahead of time, I'm going to spoil all of my stories. Hopefully, wireless connectivity permitting, I will have that up there later this afternoon. Again, it's Go get the slide deck and everything else.


I want to give out my usual disclaimer. I've been working at UB for 25 years. I've done a lot of consulting work. I don't want anybody to think that when I'm talking about the good, the bad, the ugly of web governance that I'm talking about my home institution or any of the other clients that I have worked with. We are going to protect the names of the guilty and not-so-guilty. Actually, big bonus points if anybody can tell me where that comes from. Don't Google it. Anybody know where that comes from?

Audience: It's in the novel.

Mark Greenfield: Which novel? This is specific language from a particular author. This is from Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions". Big Kurt Vonnegut fan.


Anyway, moving on.

True or false? Most college websites are bad. I'm going to ask for a show of hands. We did this in a presentation yesterday where, 'Show of hands, how many of you think that your institutional website is good?' Not too bad. How about, let me rephrase: how many think your website is great? OK, we've got a couple. Two out of probably 100-some people in here.

I wrote a blog post earlier this year where, in my opinion, I still think that most college websites are mediocre at best and certainly can be improved. Now I'm a very difficult grader. I want to see valid code, I want to see it accessible, which knocks 999 out of 1,000 right out of that category. I think there is a lot of room for improvement.

But what has changed over the last 15 years is that the reason why websites aren't as good as they could be has changed. I'm going to touch on that in a couple of minutes.


Most everybody has seen this cartoon. 'University website', 'things that people want' and 'things that we're providing', with the only thing in common is the 'full name of the school'. This was inside higher ed. I love the title of this article because it says "No Laughing Matter". Even though that cartoon is funny to us, to me this is actually serious business now. We really have to be doing a better job of improving college websites.

I was actually quoted in this article, and it was a little bit frustrating because one of the things I talked about was, why do we have mission statements and 'welcome from the dean' kinds of things when nobody wants to see that. And even though I do my usual disclaimer, Kunt Vonnegut, 'I'm not talking about UB' or any of that kind of stuff, I got called into our provost's office when this came out asking why I was questioning the provost's idea to have his mission statement on his website.

Anyway, this has gotten to the point now where it really is becoming more serious business, and we have to give this all due diligence.

What has changed in my experience is that most of the time, the reason why college websites are not as good as they could be is not the expertise of the kinds of people in this room. By and large, we've gotten pretty good at how we do our jobs. The challenge is that in a lot of cases we are not allowed to do our jobs to the best of our ability. And at the heart of that is the idea of web governance.


One of the presentations I've been doing over the last couple of years is called "Higher Education: The Toughest Gig in All the Web". I have been doing this not at higher ed conferences but at general technology conferences, and most people walk into this session saying there's no way that higher ed can be more of a challenge than somebody in the private sector. But after they walk out and understand some of the unique challenges within higher ed, I have changed their minds.

I'm not going to share this full presentation with you, but I want to touch on a couple of bullets that I'm sure will resonate with everybody.

First is the idea of silos. Nowhere else do you find the entrenched silos that you see in higher education. It is absolutely amazing and frustrating and fascinating all at the same time.


I work at a large research university where we have 13 separate schools and colleges along with a huge research arm. We were founded as a medical school, little trivia, back in 1846. Our first chancellor was Millard Fillmore, President Millard Fillmore. That was where we came from.

So even to this day, the dean of our medical school carries more power than the president of the institution. There's so much research money coming, he actually makes more money than the president. And that's just higher ed. He's got his own little silo there, so it really can be a challenge.

If I had to describe where my core skill set is, it comes from information architecture. I was an adjunct faculty in our former school of informatics, so I take information architecture very seriously.


At the University at Buffalo, we don't know how many pages we have on our website because we have dozens of web servers. My guess is it's about 1.5 million web pages at my institution.

Talk about an information architecture challenge; how do you organize that much information? Now, one of the things I say all the time is that, do we need 1.5 million web pages? You can move that decimal point over 1 and we probably still have too many web pages.

How many in this room have a plan for removing content from your website? A couple of people? Good. That's much better than I usually see.

Content has a life cycle. All because you can put it up on the Web doesn't mean you should put it up on the Web and doesn't mean you can't take it off when it shouldn't be there anymore. In higher ed, we have these huge information spaces and we really do have diverse audiences.

I have seen Steve Krug speak. He was here last year at the conference. I've had an opportunity to talk with him a couple of times and one of things he says is that higher ed is really the only sector where audience base navigation makes sense, where you have a section for current students, prospective students, alumni because their information needs are so different.


So it really is a challenge in higher ed when it comes to information architecture and how you organize all of this.

Red tape. It's interesting working not only the large research university but working for the State of New York and getting approval to purchase pencils sometimes. I get so frustrated I just go buy a lot of stuff myself.

In higher ed, there is so much bureaucracy, so much red tape, I used to joke that only in higher ed are there committees you go to to form committees. Only to find out, and I will not name the school, only to find out that there is a very prestigious institution where there actually is a committee you go to to propose forming a new committee.

One of my favorite quotes, I'm not sure where this came from, talking about how long it takes things to happen on a college campus: "Progress on college campuses is measured in geologic time."


The challenge for us in the Web, where things are changing so fast, is how do we keep up with innovation when it takes this long to do the most basic kinds of work?

Henry Kissinger. Our former president was a friend of mine, mainly through sports more than my job, and he gave me this quote on a plaque that to this day I pull out when I'm having a very frustrating day at the office. The quote from Henry Kissinger goes like this: "University politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." And he said that when he was working at Harvard.

Anytime I'm having a really bad political day, I pull that quote out, put it up on my desk, and just remind myself that this is the business of working in higher education.


Now I showed you that pretty picture of kitty cats at the beginning, but the reality on college campuses is more like this.


Mark Greenfield: People are out to get you. Campus politics are vicious. And we need to understand what the implications are of all of that.

As a result, us poor web people get very, very frustrated. But I think it's important to understand this is what it's like working in higher ed. I think everybody working for me now, I'm just thinking quick, came from the private sector. As I was interviewing people, I tried to explain to the best of my ability this different environment you're moving into, and they just weren't ready. It's taken me 25 years, I think, to fully appreciate what life on campus is like.

Quick aside. If you want to read the most hilarious novel I have ever read, it's called "Straight Man". I will send a link out to that again. It's not a book about higher ed, but it is a book talking about how a department chair, he's trying to become the dean and all that kind of things, so the internal workings of campus politics. This is one of the funniest books I have ever read. I'll send a link out about it later called "Straight Man".


I'm of the opinion...actually let me have a raise of hands. How many of you here think you do a good job with web governance? We've got one. I'm going to want to talk to you. Actually, there's a couple of hands in the back. I'm going to talk to you in the back.

My experience has been, most of us don't do a very good job with web governance, and let me show you what happens because of this. Without web governance, the entire institutional website is thought of as a group of micro-sites. It's a collection of disparate micro-sites. Go to any large university and look at the look and feel. With only a few exceptions, do you see any kind of consistency there?

And the mindset is that economic departments and administrative units think that it's their website and they can do anything that they want. That comes from the idea of academic freedom, especially in the academic departments, that we can't tell them what to do. But this is a problem, especially from the view of a user.


One thing to remember is that the entire site matters. I have seen a great deal of improvement on university homepages, on admissions sites, those recruitment-focused, but dig deep into the site, and that's usually one of the first things I will do. I was an economics major back in the day, and one of the first things I do is go and look at a college's economics department's website, and I don't think it's unique to them, but they're usually pretty awful.

The problem is that, and I'll use our institution as example, we have spent a lot of time and effort improving our admissions website. We have a lot of information there in our undergraduate catalog about the economics department. Site's presented well, it's coded well, good content there. The problem is that when somebody goes to our university homepage, one of the first things they're going to do is type in the word 'economics' into our search engine, they're going to end up on the economics web page, and let me tell you, that's not where I want them starting.


So the entire site does matter, and I think that's something we need to keep in the back of our minds and why governance really matters.

Secondly is the idea of usability. Students don't understand the politics and the organization of higher ed, and neither should they, so they get a very bad user experience when they're confronted with a number of different looks and feel, a number of different navigation. It just really becomes very confusing to them, especially when content is duplicated and they don't know which to believe. So this becomes a huge, huge issue.

Another problem as we start moving up the food chain a little bit is that because there are no articulated measurable goals, when you talk to the people higher up the food chain, they have trouble understanding whether we have a good website or not. I've talked to a lot of senior leaders and asked them, 'How good do you think your website is?' and I get this puzzled look on their face because they don't begin to think about how they should be measuring the success of this.


Finally, with everybody doing their own thing, there are definitely resource inefficiencies resulting in wasted time and effort. One of the things to think about now, and as you go forward with all of this, is how much your institution spends on the Web.

Even if you are a one-person shop, you are probably spending way more money than you think you are. I'll use my department as an example. I am a small group. There are hundreds of people on my campus who do web development. I have five full-time staff. I will just say we make an average of $60,000 a year.

We're not spending $300,000 a year in my group on the Web, because you have to factor in benefits, you have to factor in the cost of getting phone lines and computer access and parking spaces, on and on and on. That number actually approaches $1 million when you start factoring all of that in.


A place the size of UB is spending tens of millions of dollars a year in direct and indirect cost on their website, yet there is no model to manage that in an efficient manner.

So I think in the year 2011, we are hitting a tipping point where this is all going to need to change. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the Web is now mission critical.

I've been doing this since Day 1. I still remember my first Touch Mosaic 20 years ago, and the Web really has changed since then. It really now is mission critical to everything we're trying to do with the institution. And that's only going to grow.

One of the things I think that's going to happen over the next few years is most of us don't deal much with what happens on the academic side of the house in terms of the Web. I think that's going to change because higher ed is changing, and more of what we do traditionally in the classroom is going to be going online.

And that gets to my second point about higher education getting flattened.


For those of you not familiar with how I use the word 'flattened', this is the definition: "When the impact of the internet and globalization render an industry unrecognizable and, in many cases, obsolete." That comes from Tom Friedman's book, "The World is Flat".

So think about the record industry and how much that has been changed. Think about the newspaper industry. I lived out in Colorado for a while and Rocky Mountain News does not exist anymore, which was just amazing that that could happen. Their business model is broken.

My tennis partner is the vice-president of operations at the Buffalo News. His job is to print the paper. The problem is, the revenue usually comes from classified ads. That's the biggest source of revenue for newspapers. I remember talking to him in probably '05 or '06 about this little site called Craigslist. He had never heard of it, didn't think it was an issue, but guess what, Craigslist is in Buffalo now, and they have lost almost 70% of their classified ad revenue.


I give him credit because he doesn't look at his job now as printing the Buffalo News. His job is to print newspapers. So USA Today, if you are buying USA Today in Buffalo, New York, it is being printed at the Buffalo News press. If you buy a couple of the Rochester papers, that is being printed in Buffalo. So he's actually thinking forward that he can't think about himself as printing the Buffalo News. He's got to be doing something above and beyond that. So that's the definition of the word 'flattened'.

There are a lot of books out there. If you follow me at all online, I'm talking a lot about higher education is changing. This is my favorite quote from all of those books. "Most institutions can no longer afford to be what they've become." This is a book called "Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services".

This is an exercise, if you are not aware,  that a lot of campuses are going through right now, which is evaluating all of their academic programs and all of their services from an ROI perspective.


Big news in SUNY last year was that SUNY Albany cut some of their modern languages programs, I don't know how many of you heard about that, including letting go tenured faculty. That is just the tip of the iceberg. We're going to see a lot more of that. Higher ed is going through this huge change.

This is a survey from college parents. Forty-four percent said they believe that waste and mismanagement significantly factor into increasing college costs. There is going to be a big push for us to become what I call 'ruthlessly efficient' as we go forward, both at the campus level, department level, and even system level.

In New York right now, we are starting to combine campus presidencies. In upstate New York, up near where Potsdam and Canton are a four-year school and a two-year school, and they are proposing that a single president manages both of those schools.


Where I am, University at Buffalo, they are looking at partnering with Buffalo State, another SUNY school, on a lot of our administrative functions. So I think you're going to see this flattening as we go forward, and we really need to be thinking about efficiencies and doing things as best possible.

How do we deal with all of this moving forward?

When you talk to senior administrators, and most of the time that I'm talking on this subject, I am talking to people at the cabinet level of an institution, or at least at a director level, to really get on their radar screen. I've done a lot of work, just a lot of learning from people outside of higher ed about how you sell the idea of web governance, and it really comes down to these two things.


The first is money. If you can talk in a language, especially in this flattening of higher education, about how to make things more efficient and the value of the Web, you're off on the right foot.

And that's one of the things I do as I look at the work that my office does, we've tried to be ruthlessly efficient for the university. We stopped printing our class schedule back in 2003. It was out-of-date by the time it came back off the presses because we're adding and deleting dozens of courses everyday as we're starting into that registration period. We stopped printing our undergraduate catalog, I think, in '07.

Between the two of those, we saved several hundred thousand dollars a year in printing cost. So I'm able to make that argument, 'Give me a little bit of money so I can hire some staff to do this and I can save you a lot of money.' So thinking about the money piece.

The second is the idea of risk. I don't know how many of you have thought about what the consequences are of a, quote, "bad website". Let me share with you a few.


And a lot of us might think just reputational risk. That certainly is a risk, but there are a lot of things way beyond just reputation if you're not doing this right.

For example, if you want to check your website, especially the larger institutions, do a search on tuition and see if you find different versions of what it costs to go to your institution.

SUNY changed its tuition about six years ago for the first time, and that was like the first change in 10 years. I'm responsible for the Bursar's Office site so that was immediately updated. I did a search on the word 'tuition' on our website right after that happened and found hundreds of pages that had the official UB logo on it saying the tuition was still the old tuition.

We had lots of students walking into the Bursar's Office with a printed web page saying, "This is what you told me tuition was. How can it be more than that?" That's a big risk. And in the days of social media, those kinds of mistakes are going to get a lot more publicity than they did a few years ago.


Again, I'm not going to name the campus where this happened. There was an international student from China came over, a Master's student, came over to study a particular Master's program. When this person showed up on campus, they found out that program had been discontinued two years earlier. They came over from China to study a particular program that no longer existed because that webpage hadn't been updated.

Other risks. Think about what would happen if your website went down for a prolonged period of time. That usually will get people's attention.

Another thing, and I have used this as an argument in terms of staffing, what would happen if tomorrow you walked out the door, especially if you were a one-person shop? What kind of backup and redundancy do you have in terms of skill sets and those kinds of things?


So for all the one-person shops out there, if you're looking for more people, you can start with that argument, because that gets people's attention. What if you walked out the door tomorrow? Think about what would happen to your campus.

Let me just see if I'm missing anything else I want to talk about.

One other one. Again, I'm not going to name the campus. This happened about five, six years ago. They invested about $400,000 in an enterprise-wide content management system. Six months later, they dropped it.

I am writing a blog post. I will have this available by the end of the year. The blog post goes like this: 'If you implement a CMS without web governance, you are building a bridge to nowhere.' All right? Think about that.

Most CMSs fail not because of technology but because we haven't done due diligence in understanding the needs of the people who are going to use it, the needs of the institution. We need to do that, and web governance gets us there. So there's a lot of risk in terms of not doing this right.


My definition of web governance, very simple definition, is deciding who gets to decide. And a lot of campuses have not done that.

Heard the phrase in other presentations about HiPPOs. Highest-Paid Person's Opinion. Let me tell you a few things about HiPPOs. First of all, I am friends with a lot of HiPPOs. They are very intelligent people. You do not get to be a campus administrator unless you are extremely smart. The problem is that they don't necessarily understand the Web. And I think that's an important distinction.

One of my favorite quotes from Clint Eastwood, comes from the old "Dirty Harry" movies, is that "A man's got to know his limitations." I think it is very important for everyone to know what they don't know.


I'm going to talk about web committees at the end of this, but this is where web committees come into play. We do web committees all wrong. I'll get into that at the end.

Here's your one takeaway from the presentation. If you want your one tweetable moment, the one thing you need to take away from this, the mindset that you need to have about web governance, it is this: Decisions must be based on expertise, not power.

Think about how decisions on anything web-related happen on your campus. It is usually that HiPPO making that decision, not necessarily the expert. You need to make yourself be seen as that expert. That's my little bit of career advice for you is you've got to become that go-to person. You have got to become the web evangelist as you go forward.

Let me explain what I mean by 'true web governance'. We saw a few hands go up who said they did web governance well on their campuses. Let me share with you some of my definitions of this and see if your hands are still up.


The first is that it establishes authority and accountability. It gives people the authority to make decisions. This is not about consensus decision-making in a committee where we all get around and decide, 'Should we add this link to the homepage?' and talk about it for six months, and by the time you make that decision the link doesn't even apply anymore. So it really establishes authority.

The accountability piece of that is important as well. That has always been my argument as I talk to people about letting me have more of a say in what the website looks like. I consider myself fairly good at what I do. I've been doing this a long time. I've worked hard to really understand what makes a good website. Let me decide what the navigation should be. If it doesn't work, hold me accountable. But let me decide.

Second thing, and again this is where a lot of campuses don't do a good job, it defines the role of all campus units as it relates to the Web. So even though your main website may be governed right and done right, go out to all places on the Web and see if this still applies. It really does apply to all campus units.


Third, it involves senior leadership. It doesn't necessarily have to be the president or chancellor of your institution, but somebody at the cabinet level has a vested interest in what is going on on the Web.

Fourth thing is that it involves line management. If you have not heard that term before, those are the people who make decisions about how money gets spent on your campus, whether it's your Chief Financial Officer or anybody right down the line who can make decisions about how money gets spent.

Working with a fairly large research university, they have two administrative units that are about the same size. One of those units has invested seven full-time staff and a huge budget to support their web efforts. The other one has decided to hire one single person. Needless to say, their web presences are very, very different, but the place where that decision gets made is at the line management level in each of those units.


So even though they have fairly comprehensive web policies and web standards and those kinds of things, it's disconnected from line management, so the people making the financial decisions aren't part of that process. So it's really important to involve line management.

Finally, this is not a one-off process. This is not, 'Let's decide if the Web's important. Here's our strategy and here's how we're going to do it,' and call it a day. That just does not work. This is not a one-off process.

In my humble opinion, the Web is not a project. I have gotten in heated debates with my IT friends about this statement, and let me just give you a little bit of background.


I went through 80 hours of project management training about 10 years ago with a guy who designed, I think, the transportation system in Los Angeles. Talk about a big project. He started out and spent the first morning saying that projects by definition have an end. If it doesn't have an end, it is not a project.

I will submit to you that the Web does not have an end, so therefore it is not a project. Yes, there are lots of projects that go into as you go forward, but thinking of the Web itself as a project is not the right approach.

I have been, over the last 18 months or so, doing a lot of research into higher education web policies, web standards, web governance structures. I'll be sharing a lot of this research over the next few months. One thing that I have found is that a lot of the web policies I'm seeing on campus were written back in the early 2000s, and it looks like they were never touched.


And here is what happens. Going back to the idea of enforcement, there is no benefit in following a policy if there are no consequences for violating it. It becomes nothing more than an institutional artifact. And I think that's what a lot of web policies are.

Here is the history of how we thought about the Web in 2002. We threw it up on the Web, but you know what? Nothing's changed. It's not being enforced. And the guy will say policies, by definition, get enforced. I'll touch on that in a minute.

When we talk about web governance, here are the artifacts. Here are the things that you need to have in place when you're doing web governance.

The first is the formalization of authority. That is the 'deciding who gets to decide' piece.

Another big piece of this is web strategy, and web strategy that everybody understands and has been promulgated throughout the campus.

Web standards, and this is not the W3C version or the user-centered design of web standards. That's a piece of it. Web standards imply that, but also the graphic design, the editorial content, lots of things going to the web standards.


Fourth one is resource allocation. You have a model in terms of how resources are going to be allocated to the Web and a prioritization process in terms of what projects should be done first.

Another piece of that are web projects that should not be done at all. I have a process within my office where if you want to have something done by office, it's not who yells the loudest or who's high enough up the food chain. You have to submit a proposal along with the ROI of that proposal, and it gets reviewed by a committee to decide whether this is worth the time and expense to do it or not. So project prioritization is a big piece.

Then the web metrics piece, which I'm glad we are finally seeing. Google Analytics to me has been a great thing because it's a free tool, people now understand the importance of analytics. Let me just say that you need to tie your web analytics, your web key performance indicators, into the institution's goals and objectives. That's the next step for a lot of people with this.


Senior management does not care how many people visited your website. If you are working in an admissions office, what they care about is, did that increase enrollment? So you've got to tie those metrics back to the business objectives of the institution.

I was presenting at an executive forum last Fall. We had about 100 senior executives in the room, provosts, a couple of presidents, everybody at least at the vice-president level. I asked for a show of hands, 'Why do you have a website?' Not one person raised their hand.

Finally, one guy did and said, 'Because everybody else does.' That's not a good enough reason, and to me that tells a lot about why our websites aren't better than they are. You really need to think about that strategic piece.

The way that I look at web strategy and how it relates to everything else is that it's got to start with institutional strategy and is related to but different than things like IT strategy, social media strategy, content strategy, communications strategy.


There's been a lot of talk online about the importance of content strategy, which I think is very, very important, but that is not the same as web strategy. That's just a component of web strategy. So again, the main point I'm trying to make with this slide is tying all of this back to institutional strategy.

This is a sample web governance structure for a larger institution. I wouldn't recommend this kind of approach at a small school. This is for a larger institution. But the key things to remember here.

This web forum piece is what most people call their web committee, so this is the web people on campus talking with a couple of senior leaders about what's going on. What's missing is this high-level web steering committee.


The way I recommend this work is that there is one person representing the Web on this committee, but this is senior-level people who are making those strategic decisions and project prioritization decisions at a very high level, and the important piece of this is that they are connected to line management.

The decisions being made by this committee are being articulated to the people who are making the funding decisions. That is the key piece that is always missing. You've got to get the people spending the money understanding that this committee feels Project X, Y, or Z is important and funded appropriately.

I'll be happy to talk with you during the rest of the conference about this, but the best governance structure is going to vary from campus to campus. If you're familiar with the Carnegie Classifications, there is a big difference between a two-year public school and an elite private research university in terms of how governance should work. So I can't give you the perfect fit, but I'd be happy to talk with you about that later.

All right. Let's talk a little bit about web committees, or committees in general. One of my favorite quotes: "Campus committees are akin to legal hostage situations."



Mark Greenfield: We do web committee work all wrong. How many of you have gone through a redesign process, taken this to the web committee, The Powers That Be, and asked the question, "Do you like this?"

That is the absolute wrong approach, unless these people are experts in what a website should look like. Unless you're working at an art college, they're probably not real expert about graphic design, information architecture, and those kinds of things.

So what you want to do is change your mindset to be not 'What do you think of this?' but the purpose of the committee is really to do fact-finding. Find out the business problems of the units you're supporting and then use your expertise to build that out.

Don't ask them about colors. That's my biggest pet peeve when I share a new design with somebody. They comment on the colors. And I always ask, 'Where did you get your graphic design degree? How much do you know about typography?' Unless you know something about that, know what you don't know.


Another question I get asked all the time, "Where should the Web report, IT or Marketing?" My answer is none of the above.

I have worked in the IT shop, I was a web development manager for a central computing unit, I have worked in the marketing organization. As I speak, I work for the provost, chief academic officer of the institution, and it is perfect because I understand the business needs of the institution.

Jeffrey Zeldman. "Let There Be Web Divisions". I will link to this article for you. He does a great job of articulating why it is wrong to have the Web report to IT and why it is wrong to have it report to Marketing. It needs to be a stand-alone unit reporting directly to senior leadership. The challenge in higher education is, in my opinion, the person that should be responsible for the Web is the Chief Operating Officer of the institution.


How many of you have somebody with that title? Probably no. Well, a couple of people do. That's where it should report, the person responsible for the daily operations of the institution.

The problem when you are reporting to Marketing, you have a narrow view of what the Web should be sometimes. It's a marketing vehicle. When I was reporting to Marketing, that's what we talked about. Brand. Taglines. Image. All of those kinds of things. When I was part of the IT shop, it was all about services, transactional services, the portal. They never thought about the marketing piece. And nobody is thinking about the academics piece.

So you need to think holistically about the Web, and it's hard to do that when you're in an IT unit or in a marketing unit. The Web is much more than all of that.

There's been a lot of discussion earlier in the conference about the one-person shops and whether it should be specialized or generalized. In my opinion, the idea of the Web Master is so 2000. That idea is over. The Web has gotten important enough that we need to have specialized skill sets.


This is a diagram that shows different skill sets. The Web Team Lead is somebody who does strategic planning, project management, the technical side or people with computer science background doing the application development, DBA work, network administration.

Think about the skill set of that person compared to the content folks who need to have that background in Journalism and English, or the design folks who have that background in graphic design and interface design, or the one that's always missing, somebody with the right training and experience to do user experience, information architecture and usability specialists, those kinds of things.

Again, I'll share this diagram with you. I am running a little bit over so I need to speed through this just a bit, but this will be up online for you and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about that.

So let me wrap up. How am I doing with time back there? Five? OK, great. A couple of concluding thoughts.

First of all, I want you to think about how you think about what your job is. I just switched financial planners. I hate financial planners because they just insult my intelligence. I have an Economics degree and my planner was asking me whether I knew the difference between a stock and a bond. I think I know that.


As I'm filling out the paperwork for him, he's asking me what my job is, and I told him my job is I am a higher education administrator, because that's how I frame my job.

If you do not read The Chronicle of Higher Education on a regular basis, do yourself a favor and read that. That is the business we're in. We are not in the IT business or the marketing business. We are in the higher education business, so it's important to understand this.

Secondly, web governance is your friend. As I've been talking about this over the last year, a lot of people hear the words 'web' and 'governance' in the same sentence and get very, very nervous because they think it's all going to be about control and 'I'm not going to have freedom'. That's not what all of this is about. This is about letting you do your jobs effectively.


Most colleges address web quality by redesigning their site or investing in infrastructure when the real problem lies in the management practices. If you have not addressed those management issues, even if you buy a new CMS or you redesign your website, guess what, two or three years down the road, you're going to be right back where you started.

Undermine the underminers. You will have a lot of naysayers out there, especially when it comes to standards, people who want to do their own thing. Do not ignore them.

My thing when I get the squeaky wheels out there is to invite them into the conversation. Make sure that they are heard. It doesn't mean you have to follow their ideas. But don't ignore them. And this is especially true on a large campus where you have a lot of people who think they can just do their own thing. You need to build consensus. It takes some work, but it's important.

As I have looked at lots and lots of websites and done consulting work with dozens and dozens of colleges, I have found there is one thing that separates the really good web teams and the really good websites from the rest, and this key to success is leadership. This is the most important trait of somebody running a campus web team.


And there is a big difference between management and leadership. I think a lot of us had been good at managing, managing the day-to-day operations, but we are not providing the leadership and the strategic approach to what we need to do. That's what we need to be focusing on.

There's been a lot of conversation among the HighEdWeb board and some other folks about what we want to do as an organization going forward, and one of the things we're really seriously considering is developing a web leadership institute, a web leadership track to help people understand what it takes to be a leader on campus and really move the Web forward. So pay attention to that going forward.


We're hoping to be announcing some stuff over the next few weeks about what that might look like. If you're interested in that and how that might work, please come see me over the next day.

This is what the problem is. We're just focusing on management. "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." And I see that happening on a lot of campuses.

The other thing, especially for the central web folks, think of yourself moving from a production shop where you are the person who does all the work to a strategic shop where you are the person who provides the direction.

So I've been talking, I'm hoping that we will look back on 2011 as the year web governance took off in higher ed. We're making some progress. I hope that progress continues.

I'm going to share with you a resource. A lot of you who have been following me, I've been talking about all year. That was originally going to go live in the Spring. I was hoping that it would be live this morning, but we're still going through some technical issues with launching this site.


One of the things that held this project up is we've decided to rename to This is a site that is going to be built in the idea of A List Apart. This is going to be an online journal where we're going to invite people to write articles about all things now with digital governance, 'digital' being defined as "web, social, mobile."

There are currently six people who are contributing to this. We have a law expert from South Africa, an internet expert from France, two folks from the U.K., Lisa Welchman, who a lot of you have probably heard of in terms of web governance, and myself from the U.S. I'm going to be writing specifically about web governance issues in higher education.

If this site is not live by this afternoon, it certainly will be by the end of the week. And that will be a good resource. I've got about a dozen articles I've been saving. If you've been following my blog and wondering why I'm not writing, that's why, because I've been saving everything for this site.


And with that, I would like to thank you for your attention. I think we ran out of time. I'll be around the rest of the conference if you have any questions. I appreciate your time.


Moderator: Thanks, Mark.