The Future Role of the Webmaster and A Framework for Web Development at UVM
Models for University Web Development frameworks exist at many institutions, and these models vary as much as do the institutions that support them:
- The CWIS (Campus Wide Information Service) administration group maintains the Brown University Home Page. This group is comprised of representatives from the University Library, Computing and Information Services, and University Relations. The CWIS administration group is working to provide World Wide Web access to members of the Brown community and information about Brown to its on-line visitors. See
The structure I would like to see at UVM would incorporate many of the ideas above:
A small Office of Web Development, with one to three full time employees. The talent pool should include:
- Graphic and interface design skills: traditional print media design skills are useful, but "new media" design skills are even more necessary. Text, static and dynamic imagery, visual communication, video, ease of use, accessibility.
- All the usual job description crap: ability to think outside the box, ability to work with people, some clue regarding project and people management, yada yada yada, but also a general knowledge of how UVM operates, and how to get around it.
Most importantly, additional talent would be drawn from our student community. We have bunches of kids who either know this stuff already or who would love to learn it. This Office could be a source of student intern positions for years to come. You want three credits in Art History? Come see us. Four credits in Computer Science? Do we have a project for you! Need some extra cash? Come work for us!
In many ways, the Web at UVM touches every facet of UVM: faculty, old students, new students, prospective students, alumni, staff, parents, the people of the State of Vermont. It is a vehicle for doing business within UVM, for attracting students to UVM, and for disseminating our research to the world. Thus, the Office must maintain close ties to University Marketing, CIT, Alumni Relations/Development, Student Activities/Government, the Registrar, Public Relations, Library/Media Services, and the Faculty Senate. This could be achieved either through a dedicated Steering Committee or via whatever general all-purpose IT Steering Committee might be established by the Plan-IT working group. Because of the many interests that the Office must both represent and answer to, The Office should report directly to the Office of the Provost or indirectly via the CIO.
Accepting for the moment a hierarchical rather than network view of the UVM web, The Office of Web Development would maintain the UVM home page and the first tier of pages linked to the Home Page. The Office would develop and promote a consistent page design for all other pages developed on campus. The office would provide consulting support for those units wishing to publish their own information as well as a free web development service – employing student designers – for those units unable or unwilling to maintain their own pages. Development services would not be limited to simple static pages: forms, databases, interactive learning environments, wacky multimedia projects – everything except those critical business applications best left to Administrative Computing Services.
The Office would sponsor periodic Lunches with the Webmasters. Office personnel would meet in Waterman Manor along with othersous maîtres de la toile across campus for informal discussions.
Mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org would be distributed to a list or perhaps to a database (much like the CIT Problem tracking System) rather than to individuals. This would help ensure that the messages got to the people who could answer them as well as keep the web community abreast of the issues and concerns of the web surfers who use the UVM site.
If business ever gets slow, the Office may issue calls for proposals for new projects.
Finally, the Office will realize from the beginning that eventually, the web will not be the web anymore. What we know as the web will either be replaced by something bigger and better, or it will become so ubiquitous as to no longer require a special effort to support its use and development.
Wesley Alan Wright (email@example.com)
Monday, September 29, 1997
Last modified September 29 1997 12:18 PM