Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Are you going to New York or by train?

A commenter on our previous post on Information Architecture (IA) linked to a Princeton PDF containing a plan for "creating website Information Architecture and Content" from the ground up.
If we didn't have mStoner managing this process, we could do quite well from the Princeton guidelines. In fact, before I go further, let me be clear—the document as a whole is very impressive, and rich in specifics for implementation. But...
I must take issue with the definition of IA provided in the Princeton PDF. When I reached page 25, my disappointment was audible as I read:
You have now developed the information architecture for your site.
At this point in the reading, I had the vivid memory of sitting in a Master's-level education course in which the professor paced through the room asking each student in turn to define "curriculum"—and, with rare exception, responding to each student in turn
Are you going to New York or by train?
The point? Many of our definitions confused the "what" of our curriculum with the "how" of our teaching methods.
Likewise, it seems to me that Information Architecture is easily confused with elements of implementation of our web redesign process.
posted by Andrew Bauserman

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Everybody Must Get mStoned"

Today, the Law School held its own full day strategic discovery session with mStoner - the first of the individual graduate school intake sessions. Among those represented were the Dean & senior administration, admission and communication, library, students, alumni, career services, faculty, and law programs. As with the W&M discovery sessions earlier in the week the downloading of data was relentless, but they were up for the challenge. To mStoner's Mark, Patrick and Voltaire many thanks for your patience and professionalism and safe travels home. We look forward to your next visit.

posted by Mark Windley

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Thursday found mStoner meeting with the Web Advisory Committee, Public Affairs, Information Technology, Faculty, Students, and Administration staff. At the end of the day Voltaire was back on a plane for Chicago and Patrick and Mark were prepping for their strategic discovery meetings at the Law School on Friday.

In case you haven't seen a copy, check out "Road to the New W&M Web Presence (PDF)." The re.web project team and mStoner put together this transitional writing and style guide to get people thinking about how to overhaul their content as we prepare for the changes ahead.

Thank you to everyone who attended strategic discovery sessions and helped make these last few days a big success.

Posted by Joel Pattison

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 2 and Still Going Strong

Wednesday was another busy day for the mStoner consultants. They met with over 50 people from many groups including Development, Enrollment, Undergraduate Admission, Student Affairs, W&M faculty, the Alumni Association, and a few members of the Diversity Committee.

The group of upperclassmen that met with the consultants on Tuesday proposed that taking a campus tour would really let the consultants get a feel for what William and Mary is like. So, at the end of day 2, a very enthusiastic student who works for Undergraduate Admission, led them on a brief, but thorough, journey of our campus.

Not sure where the consultants are getting their energy but it is great to see such passion for wanting to learn about William and Mary.

Posted by Tina Coleman

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I promised I'd write.

It's late and I'm tired from a busy first day with the mStoner team ... but I promised I'd write. The day was a success thanks to those who came for strategic discovery discussions and some hard work by the re.web team. (Thanks to Andrew Bauserman, Tina Coleman, Kathy Larrieu, Joel Pattison, and Mark Windley.)

The turnout was super - 41 attended a non-stop series of meetings that began at 9:00AM and concluded at 6:15PM. Whew!

To wrap up the day, the mStoner team met with a group of talented, sincere, charming, and bright students. Our students represent the essence, and what's best, about W&M. Who wouldn't be engaged by a future web site that captures that?

posted by Susan Evans

"Take me to your leader."

The mStoner team of Voltaire Santos Miran, Patrick DiMichele, and Mark Sheehy landed on campus today. 9:00AM finds them in the Brafferton meeting with Gene Nichol, Geoff Feiss, Michael Fox, and Jackson Sasser.

The remainder of the day includes time with Arts and Sciences, Admission, Libraries, and lots of students! No lunch break either - they are brown bagging it with a group of departmental web editors.

Want names? See the confirmed list of W&M faculty, staff, and students who will talk with mStoner.

Later tonight, we'll try to blog about day one of the mStoner visit.

posted by Susan Evans

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Q&A About Grad Schools

Q: Are you guys going to give William & Mary's Graduate Schools a chance to participate in re.web?
A: Of course!

Q: That's a relief. But... does that mean the graduate schools are going to look just like the home page?
A: Not exactly. When we were auditioning web consultants there was universal agreement that a University's graduate schools should have a complimentary, but not identical look. Think of them as "siblings" to the home page.

Q: Have any grad schools decided to take advantage of the numerous, wonderful benefits of re.web and participate?
A: Yes!-- Law, Education and The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Would you like to know how they're going to be included in strategic discovery?

Q: Actually, I would.
A: In addition to the three days mStoner spends talking to people from the College, each participating graduate school is going to get one day of strategic discovery to themselves. That means their students, faculty staff and administration will have a full day to talk to mStoner about nothing but their respective school.

Q: That's swell. I'll bet they really appreciate that.
A: We hope so.

Q: When are these meetings with the graduate schools going to occur?
A: The School of Law will have their one day strategic discovery session on September 21. Other Graduate Schools will follow later in the fall.

Q: Why does the Law School get to go first?
A: Because they were enthusiastic, and anxious to get started.The Associate Dean of Technology, Trotter Hardy has worked very hard to get ready for mStoner's visit in September.

Q: Is that the only reason law gets to go first? Just because they were so eager?
A: I promise you, it really was that simple.

Q: Will the new grad school web sites launch at the same time as the College's?
A: We will know more after the first mStoner visit. Some of them may go live at the same time as the College's site, but others will be phased in one-by-one after the launch of

Q: There's no way you can get them all done at the same time?
A: Sorry, but I don't think so. High-quality web design does take a lot of time and energy you know!

Q: Yeah, yeah, I know. We want to do this thing right.
A: Absolutely.

Posted by Joel Pattison

Friday, September 7, 2007

Information Architecture is Key

Information Architecture (IA) is more noticeable by its absence than its presence. For this reason, some define IA by what is lacking when IA is weak—a site map, a navigation system, or search. But IA is more than this.

IA is the blueprint and foundation for the site. It is essential to the site map, navigation system, and search, as well as, for a consistent strategic message. But merely building a site with these features will not produce strong IA.

Solid IA provides a framework, not only for developing these features, but also for the evolution of the site—enabling the site to weather the inevitable changes to message, content, design, and navigational structure—thus providing long-term sustainability for the site.

Without a good IA, we risk deploying an aesthetically appealing, technically sophisticated site with great content which will not grow with us.

Yes, but what exactly is IA? And how will the re.web project address IA within the new W&M web presence? Read what we're thinking...

Posted by Andrew Bauserman

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Taming the Beast

Our web environment is a beast. We have tens of thousands of pages written in multiple languages by hundreds of authors using dozens of web authoring tools. There are countless custom applications with varying degrees of ... hmmm ... "uniqueness?" Secure sites, public sites (or somewhere in between), personal pages, official content, news, myWM, Banner, webmail, Blackboard, and let's not even talk calendars.

Basically, if you can find it on the web, chances are we have it here at W&M. And Information Technology is proud to offer and support it.

But... (and you knew it was coming), managing this environment is not without its challenges. Enter re.web. As we assess our current environment in light of the goals of the re.web project, the potential benefits that would be provided by a commercial Content Management System are hard to ignore.

Stay tuned for more CMS-related information in this blog!

posted by Mark Windley