Oops, I was told we are branding this as an update, not a redesign. Too many folks get nervous when you use the “R” word. Why? I’m not entirely certain. We are being as inclusive as is possible with multiple opportunities for input throughout the process – focus groups, interviews, one-on-ones, emails, phone calls, support desk tickets, Lync sessions, hallway meetings, emails, web posts, tweets… Pretty much whatever it takes.
But I have a theory. I sometimes think it stems from the feeling that some thought leaders in the university environment don’t think we (university staff) have the expertise in-house to produce a world-class product. Sure, we can handle an update but not a redesign. And that is probably our own fault as we don’t tend to advertise our own successes. As a whole, most of the university Web developers, designers, writers and UX folks do not shout their own names from the mountain tops. We tend to do a great job, enjoy the warm glow for a minute, then move on to the next project.
Whereas outside design firms, well, they do the opposite.
At best, we attend a conference like HighEdWed and give a presentation and inspire other higher ed Web professionals to do something similar. But we’re not wowing them at SXSW or have cool downtown offices with free beer and coffee. So we’re not sexy. And we’re not always trusted to do what we’ve been hired to do – make amazing online experiences.
How do we overcome this? Well, knowing how to talk to those influencers (and knowing who they are) is a huge part of the game. Convince them you know what you are doing, you know the industry trends, you know what your audience wants and you have the skills to make it happen. Trust me, if you have been getting that input I mentioned earlier, you know your university audience better than they do!
I have turned many a dissenter in to a believer. And I’ve seen others on my team do it as well. You can feel their passion, belief and knowledge and simply have to be swayed by their conviction in what they bring to the table. We’re not just as good as an outside firm, we’re better. We work here. We believe in the university. And as we like to say, we eat our own dogfood. And when it comes to the web, we’re a bunch of foodies and won’t put up with junk. 😉