Higher Ed Web 2016

Notes and Action Items

October 16, 2016

Below are my notes from HighEdWeb 2016. I presented Design for CMS to 30 - 45 people. There were lots of formal and informal conversations on content personalization, digital asset management, training content editors, and site maintenance.

Summary Topics

My assessment of the major conversations

  • Optimizing for what is often a decentralized organization
  • Popular topics in conference sessions: web security, accessibility, and analytics
  • Keynote speakers focused on inclusion and digital literacy
  • Dealing with and scaling back the proliferation of websites and content (see above)

Main Action Items

  • Research DAM vendors
  • Academic page SEO
  • Adjust the Web Contributor training

Academic Pages

Effective Academic Program Pages That Attract and Convert
Matt Herzberger - Ruffalo Noel Levitz

  • Academic Programs is the number one thing prospective students and parents are looking for (self-reported)
    [my note: but no one is going to self-report they are looking for interactive experience or some other subtle, yet effective experience]
  • SEO Keywords
    1. program and location
    2. program name
    3. school and program
  • Ideal length for Google indexing: 800 - 1200 words

Action Items

  • Check traffic to academic pages
  • Assess keywords on academic pages
  • Take 5 programs and try an experiment


S.I.F.T. Through Your Content For Accessibility
Justin Gatewood - Victor Valley College

Think S.I.F.T.
Structure, Images, Forms, Tables


  • don’t skip heading levels
  • use semantic code
  • use skip links that provide a link to jump past nav and other template level content
  • test enlarging font-size within browser


  • for decorative only images, use “ “ for alt.
  • If animation, make possible to pause or hide


  • test with keyboard (no mouse)
  • avoid multi-select, use checkboxes instead
  • no empty buttons


  • use caption for legend (after the opening table tag)
  • <th scope="col"></th>
  • use proportional sizes rather than pixels
  • no height (in case increase font size)
  • avoid col span


  • vischeck.com
  • accessify.com
  • wave.webaim.org
  • webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker

Action Items

  • Test forms
  • Review top pages


Decentralize your creative files and collaborate your marketing efforts Presented
Sam Schnepf and Dustin Pence - Widen

  • year in filename
  • most important thing is to organize metadata
  • check out Widen and Libris

Action Item

  • Pass on details to Alan

Training Content Editors

Combined notes from two presentations.

  1. Copy and Paste Is Easy, but Let’s Make Your Site Shine: Helping Non-experts Thrive as Web Managers
    Presented By Joe Vickless, Duquesne University
  2. Train the Trainer: Tips for Enhancing Employee Learning Presented</em
    Katie Santo - New York University

Warm Up

Start with a 3 - 5 minute warm up: set expectations, mentally prepare learners, and set the tone.

Appeal to trainee self interest

  • How does training matter to their role?
  • How does training benefit them (save time or money)?

Instill confidence

Keep instructions simple, start with easy tasks and build on that.

My note

I’m curious how to balance keeping things simple while also convincing users to carry out the larger strategy. Vickless spoke about how content managers may have unaligned goals. That is also my experience. So I spend a large portion of the training on non-technical aspects - strategy, goals, and approach.]

Include participants

  • Use open ended questions: “what questions do you have” not “do you have any questions”
  • Check for understanding
  • Allow people to make mistakes
  • Create opportunities for participants to learn from each other.

Follow Up

Send an email to participants after the training.

  • Nicely Said
  • Style - Lessons in Clarity and Grace
  • Bird by Bird

Action Items

  • Start training with basic tasks
  • Emphasize self-interest in intro
  • Send out follow up emails

Operationalizing the Web

The Web is Not a Project: How to Effectively Manage Your Web Operations
Mark Greenfield and Doug Kozar - University at Buffalo

Operational Work Not Project Work

  • No end
  • Stable organization
  • Repeated work

Spelling mistakes cost

  • Survey says: Hurt reputation & trust
  • Survey says: People avoid doing business

Handling Request

  • single point of contact for requests
  • single site content owner and requests must be approved by them

My Note

This seems really useful, but also runs the risk of alienating partners by forcing our systems, rather than meeting them where they are at.

Automating Processes with Git

Get Hooked on Integrations With Github
Christopher Thomas - Loma Linda University

  • Do something in github - that’s an event (look at API for complete list)
  • Integrations - 70 predefined


  • Webhooks - http post requests or JSON
  • Set up in settings within github
  • Assign secret (and use ssl/tls)
  • Trigger on individual events

Meeting Campus Community Needs

Don’t You Forget About Me: Building a Site That Serves Your Campus Community’s Needs
Eric Hodgson - Ingeniux

  • Average cost to recruit student at 4 year private: $2232
  • Better ROI for retention vs recruitment
  • Higher Ed websites began as all audiences and have moved towards prioritizing future student audience
  • Siloed websites (.edu, microsites, student information system, intranet, learning systems, alumni network, directories)

Effective Community

  • Most important thing: start by combining data systems
  • Identity and Access Management (LDAP, connect Admissions CRM to Current Student CRM)
  • Information Unification
  • Collaboration and Process Management (need two way communication)
  • example: IAC The Hub

My thoughts

Good plan for improving services and experience of current students. But the vision relies heavily on technical outcomes. I think it would be more likely to implemented (and possibly implemented better) to start with outcomes. How can we improve advising, career development, counseling? And maybe there is a technical solution to support those efforts.