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Internet Marketing and Web Development in Higher Education and other tidbits…

[Results] State of the University Web Department survey

23 Nov 2009

written by Nick DeNardis

[Results] State of the University Web Department survey

253 Total Responses

First and foremost I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to fill out the survey. The feedback from this has been amazing and I know everyone has been anticipating the results. These results will help others shape and make informed decisions about their web environment. I have a feeling most of you are already scrolling through it right now, I don’t blame you.

For each question I included a mix graphs, tables and some commentary about the results or question. If you want more information about a particular question or clarification just ask. In addition the questions that required a little cleaning up to be grouped I included the download for that cleaned up information. Also at the bottom of the post is a link to the complete cleaned up results in case you are interested.

How large is your institution?

1 institution size [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

Overall the range of institutions by size was evenly distributed except for the 1,500-4,500 column which double any of the other sizes.

What is your current title?

 [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

The titles were all over the place, the top six were are shown here but the “Other” column is huge. You can download the full list of titles with totals in CSV format.

What is the landscape of your web environment?

web landscape [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

I was quite surprised to see almost 50% of the institutions have a centralized web environment. But you cannot ignore the 30% that are completely decentralized. Reading through all the responses the trend was a need or want to centralize control as you will see in later questions.

If centralized, how large is the full time staff?

 [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

Not surprising these number are small but a quarter of the institutions have a web staff of one or two! It is amazing across the board 77% of all institutions with a centralized web environment have a staff of five or fewer. Download the results in CSV.

If centralized, how is priority determined?

priority [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

The question of priority is always a sticky subject at an institution. Typically it is who makes the most noise gets bumped to the top of the list. It is surprising to see that the majority of central web staff has some pull out there and is able to say no. Hopefully focusing on the sites that effect the end users the most.

Roughly how many full time staff institution wide work on all the web sites?

 [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

Yet again the low numbers dominate this question with one slight variation. The “100″ mark which creaped into the top results. It seemed to be a popular number for institutions had a decentralized content environment. My guess it is a generalization but it still needs to be noted. Download the results in CSV.

What is the state of a content management system (cms) at your institution?

cms state [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

The almost 45% of institutions that have a central CMS that everyone must use, this surprised me. It might have to do with the number of smaller institutions that took the survey because I know getting a large institution on board with one system unless it is a mandate is almost impossible.

If you use a CMS, how was it adopted?

cms origin [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

Personally it was nice to see how many people were using an open source CMS. Obviously administration feels more comfortable purchasing a CMS with the possibility of support to ensure the site is running its best at all times. But open source and building in house give an institution the most amount of flexibility.

If your CMS was built elsewhere, what is the name/company of that CMS?

 [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

Quite possibly the most popular question in this survey. Everyone wants to know what CMS every other institution is using. A few stood out, Cascade Server and OmniUpdate tied for first spot but there are plenty of “Others”. Be sure to check out the full list to see them all in relation to institution size. Download the results in CSV.

What department controls your institutions home page?

homepage control [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

Marketing by far has the most control over institution homepages. This comes up quite a bit in the open ended question later in the survey. I will give you a hint, staff agree marketing should stay in control of the homepage.

Does your institution have a home page committee?

homepage committee [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

I thought this would be overwhelming yes but I am glad to see how many departments have direct control over their homepage. Committees in general tend to slow down advancement and removes focus from the end user. The only downside to direct control is sometimes broader goals may get overlooked.

When was your last home page redesign?

redesign timeline [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

It is great to see how many institutions have redesigned recently. Although 4+ years is still on the map, thinking about the technology 5 years ago, IE6 and 800×600 were dominant. I hope those institutions have been realigning along the way.

How was your last home page redesign handled?

redesign source [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

Again, another response that slightly surprised me. I initially thought that vendors would be a larger part of the homepage redesign process. It has been a trend in higher education that we laugh at the idea of bringing in consultants even though they have competent staff on hand. It is good to see over 60% of redesigns were accomplished in house.

What is the primary programming language that runs your institution’s Web environment?

 [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

After cleaning up the data a clear winner emerged, PHP and the LAMP stack. ASP and ASP.NET come in second but the gap is pretty noticeable. Download the results in CSV.

If tomorrow you could change one thing about how your institution’s Web site is managed what would it be?

 [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

This and the next open ended question took the bulk of the time to clean up. What I did was read every answer and summarize the central idea into a few words. Making sure I was consistent through the results I then grouped them by their main ideas to come up with the graph above. The overall theme for what to change was centralizing the control and adding the resources needed to make that happen. Download the results in CSV.

What is the one thing you would not change about how your institution’s Web site is managed?

 [Results] State of the University Web Department survey

With this question, after summarizing the results a few major themes shined through. The things people did not want to change was the centralized control, their CMS and decentralized content control. Having a centralized management of how sites are implemented but then giving the control of the content to the experts was the biggest take away from this question. Download the results in CSV.

Wrap Up

The unedited data will be available to anyone who wants access (institution names removed of course), but a cleaned up version is available here. I am making sure this data is available because it belongs to all of you, not me. Please remix it, analyze it, produce your own results and point out if I overlooked anything.

Through this those process I learned a great deal. The thing that stuck out the most was the openness and willingness of the higher education community to share and learn from each other. We are all traveling same path trying to get to the same goal. With a little help that goal can be achieved and expanded much quicker. Thank you all again.

Photo by jeffedoe

The content of this post is licensed: ©2009 All Rights Reserved

About the author

Nick DeNardis

Nick is the Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University by day. By night he hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews higher education web sites live. Nick is an active member of the higher education web community and is an officer of Refresh Detroit, a group of web professionals whose goal is to promote web standards, usability, and accessibility.

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This post was written by - who has written 31 posts on .eduGuru

  • Dave Mulder

    Thanks for all the effort you folks put into this survey. The results are about what I expected, but interesting nonetheless.

    One question moving into the future is whether centralization is an economy-related trend or if it’s something that will stick.

    • Michael Fienen

      Personally, I would like to see it stick, and I think it will. Centralization (or in some cases managed decentralization) is (in my opinion), the natural evolution of better web management. The issue is that the reasons for decentralization don’t actually hold up well, when you consider you’re frequently giving power to people that do not know how to wield it, though we lie to ourselves and talk about how we can train them with our awesome new tools and make it so easy. No, we won’t, because the bottom line is they won’t learn it. The people that know the content aren’t necessarily equipped to *create* or *manage* the content. Centralization occurs as a result of better management and understanding of workflows.

  • Paul Chadik

    Wow, thanks for pulling this together. As Dave mentioned, a lot of the numbers seem intuitive, but having the data to back it up really makes a difference. I look forward to digging into the raw data.

  • Mike Rivera

    Thank you for the work that went into this. I’ve done similar survey analyses and it’s not a picnic. Well done.

    Many of the findings surprised me, but I wonder if that’s because of the preponderance of smaller schools in the results. Future editions of the survey, if any are in the works, might benefit from sorting all questions based on the school’s size. That way, readers can review the findings in an apples to apples way based to the size of their own institutions.

    • Mark Greenfield

      I’ll second Mike’s comments. It would be great to see the data broken down by school size. I have worked with a variety of schools ranging in size and scope from small privates with 200 students to large public research universities with 30,000+ students, affiliated hospitals, and hundreds and research centers and institutes. While grouped under the broad umbrella of higher education, there are significant differences in how the web is governed and managed.

  • Mike Nolan

    Interesting to see.

    Do you have any idea where the responses came from? I’m guessing there’s a fairly heavy North American bias?

  • Matt

    Fascinating. We’re looking at a CMS implementation, and it was interesting looking at the list.

    Cascade is the same as Hannon Hill which has two listings making it really 14 (9%). Also Luminis is the same as Luminus as well as Sungard making it 7 (5%). Note the majority of people misspelled it! It is SunGard Luminis.

    Also and MySource Matrix are the same.

  • Cordell Sires

    Hi,this apple is really a good ,I like the well ability and the price,hope I can have one,Lee

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