Thursday, May 29, 2008

Are you talking to me?

Probably not yet!

A brand new W&M website will launch on July 31 but not every W&M site will be included in this initial launch. There are hundreds and hundreds of W&M websites, you know. Actually, if your departmental site will be using the new design suite beginning July 31, you'd already know it!

The sections of the W&M website launching on July 31 in the new design will also feature new copy and new photography. Also, these sites will be built out in the Cascade content management system. Using our new information architecture to display it, we do have a detailed list of websites going live on July 31 (PDF). Beyond this list, these web pages and features will also launch on July 31:

posted by Susan Evans

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Final Paper due before 5:00PM on July 31

You got the syllabus on the first day of class and you have clear recall of the prof's words . . . "the final assignment due for this course is a 15 - 20 page paper that represents your best thinking on the material we'll cover in the next 16 weeks."

There are some striking similarities between the launch of the new W&M website on July 31 and the final paper due in some courses. To prepare, you gather information and read what others have to say on the topic. Perhaps you develop an outline to help structure the content you'll present and often, you have a first draft.

You get where I'm going with this - some of you already have a knot in your stomach remembering your own student paper-writing days. At some point, and not two night's before the due date if you can prevent it, you have to start writing. In 20 years of teaching at W&M, I've heard my husband Larry say this many a time to the panicked voice on the other end of the phone, "Okay, what I want you to do is make a pot of coffee, sit down at your computer, and start typing. Don't edit, just let the ideas flow, you'll go back and perfect it later. Before you realize it, you'll have five pages."

We're about there with re.web - it's time to make the pot of coffee and not look up until the soft launch we're planning for just prior to the real launch on July 31. We're likely to begin posting to this blog once a week instead of almost daily. Hope you'll understand our singular focus in the next 10 weeks.

posted by Susan Evans

Friday, May 23, 2008

re.Mason :)

mStoner wrapped up a two-day visit to campus this afternoon. Complete with sandwiches from Lenny's Gourmet, we kicked off a series of meetings planned by Andrea Sardone and Jeff Swingle on Thursday, May 22. During Thursday's meetings, Voltaire Miran and Mark Sheehy met with about 20 administrators and faculty members in the Mason School of Business. Today, Voltaire and Mark had the opportunity to talk with Dean Larry Pulley.

The mStoner team's project portfolio includes work with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

posted by Susan Evans

R U Blogging?

We can provide lots of information on our website for prospective students and parents about the many majors and programs we offer, the cost to attend and how great campus life can be. But, let’s get personal (and honest).

Isn’t it logical to think that reading about W&M from the view of a current student, staff or faculty member would be interesting and appealing? We think so. So, in the new world order for the W&M web, we will have blogs.

So, who’s going to blog? Not long ago, we solicited bloggers using a form in myWM (our campus portal) and received over 80 responses within a couple of weeks. Wow!

Next steps? Given the work still to be done for the July 31 launch of the top-level W&M sites, we’re going to start the blogs in baby steps.

We’re very lucky to have a great partnership with the Undergraduate Admission office as they recognize the value and impact blogs can have. Over the summer, they will task about a dozen student interns with blogging for the W&M web. We’ll hopefully be able to include a couple of faculty and staff bloggers as well. Then, in the fall when the dust has settled a bit, we will expand our list of official bloggers from our list of eager respondents.

posted by Tina Coleman

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Websites for Arts & Sciences

Departments, programs and office in Arts & Sciences will represent 35 - 40 websites in the new W&M web presence. Steve Otto, Joel Pattison, Kathy Larrieu, and I spent a couple more hours in windowless conference rooms talking about design details - with good results.

posted by Susan Evans

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Location, location, location

Dear Readers,

Late this afternoon, the re.web and mStoner teams finalized the change to the location of the global navigation bar.

Check out the revised design suite. Keep clicking to see the changed layouts.


PS The mStoner team is remarkable. I am convinced there is NO other firm in the country that would have been as creative and as understanding on a late-in-the-game design change.

It's Like Legos

My son is a big fan of Legos- He's got quite the collection, too. Mostly vehicles, Mars Mission, Star Wars, Aqua Raiders, Batman. There was a time when he needed my help to build these things and I was all too happy to oblige. He would dump the pieces in a big colorful pile on the floor, open up the instructions and we'd sit together criss-cross-applesauce in the middle of it all counting Lego circles and glancing back and forth between the picture on the box (which is usually ripped beyond recognition by the excitement of getting started), the pictures in the instructions booklet, and the connected pieces as they begin to take form.

But all too quickly the time of needing Dad's help in this process has passed and I've been relegated to the proud parent who watches the operation from a perch on our couch, occasionally setting down my coffee as I am called on to rake the carpet for a missing light saber handle or booster flame. I have to admit I really miss being down on on the floor where the action is- for a couple of hours reliving the simple joys and occasional frustration that come with being an anxious kid.

Well, it seems I'll have my chance again. W&M bought a HUGE Lego set called Cascade Server and guess who gets to play with it... Yes, that's right! Mom, more Ovaltine please!

So now we have our Lego set and we've dumped the pieces on the floor. We have our nice picture on the box, a beautiful suite of designs provided by mStoner. (Ok, so maybe we ripped the box a little in our excitement, but can you blame us? It's been 7 years!) So, where are the instructions? Here's where the anology turns just a little. Cascade Server has tons of Legos and there are instructions for building some really cool things, but not exactly the cool thing that we see on our box. So Global Image is helping us create our instructions. Grrr... but I want to play with our toy now!

“Patience child,” my mother would say.

We could probably jump right in and slap something together that looks like the picture on the box, but I imagine within a few minutes of playing the wings would fall off and when we'd try to squeeze the wings back into place the tail would get loose or the cockpit would pop out of place and we'd raise our fists and stomp our feet and toss what is left in the basket where toys we never play with go to die.

Building our CMS the right way is worth the time it takes and if we have patience I know we'll have something special. Maybe it will sit on our dresser in the toy hall of fame- the first toy we see when we open our eyes in the morning.

But wait, I haven't mentioned the best part about Lego toys- when you are tired of playing with whatever you constructed, you can transform it. A car can become a boat or maybe a ship or maybe even the ever famous, most awesome flying boat/car with triple boosters and rocket launchers! I think with Cascade Server the fun is really just starting and it doesn't end July 31st.

posted by Mark Windley

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's up with Cascade?

An interesting 2 weeks in Williamsburg:
Our new development server is up and running. We've used it to build some sample pages that we can publish to a development web server. And since users will eventually need to login with the same WMuserid and password they are using everywhere, we'll be setting up that connector as well. There's so much more Cascade can do that we're still anxious to see...

Work in progress:
But our own Cascade server is not where the real action's taking place. Our friends at Global Image are doing the heavy lifting for us—customizing their own install of Cascade with our Templates and the functionality we've been defining over the last month. We're continuing our weekly phone calls and email exchanges with Michael Burks about this "Functional Spec."—which we've hopefully nailed down after our recent modifications to the design suite. On top of this, we are now 4 calls into a 3-calls-a-week technical implementation schedule with our programmers, Kevin Zink and Joel Stevens. Kevin and Joel have their jobs cut out for them—walking us through implementation choices and data definitions, building templates and layouts for each of our page types, and helping us understand the magic behind the curtain. Did I mention they have only 5 weeks to get this done?

The two shall become one:
All of the programming, layouts, data definitions and templates from the Global Image server will migrate onto our own test and production servers in early July for Beta testing and sign-off. Then the final phase begins–pouring in pages and pages of content in time for launch.

There's plenty happening behind the scenes. We'll try to keep you updated as things move along.

posted by Andrew Bauserman

Monday, May 19, 2008

Moving on up . . .

A site is more usable if global navigation exists. And, site visitors should be able to count on finding your global navigation in the same spot throughout your site.

The global navigation bar* on the new web designs for W&M is moving - up!

We're working with on- and off-campus design professionals now to create the revised designs with the global navigation bar moved to the top. Of course, we'll post the updates to the blog. :)

I'm not a designer - don't know exactly how the updated designs will look, but this new placement of the global navigation bar will be consistently applied. And that's a good thing.

*Global navigation on the new W&M site includes the topics: About W&M, Academics, Admission, Research, Campus Life, Athletics, News & Events, Giving.

posted by Susan Evans

Sunday, May 18, 2008

There are modifications and there are issues

Arts & Sciences departments represent a major portion of the College - both in practice and within the W&M web presence. For the past nine weeks, I've worked directly with Carl Strikwerda (Dean of the Faculty), Sue Peterson (Dean of Undergraduate Studies), and Steve Otto (Director of Communications) on the unique page layouts and designs proposed for Arts & Sciences.

There are modifications!
After three rounds of design revisions and enhancements, we now have two home page options to offer to Arts & Sciences departments. At the request of the dean's office, we've also changed many other design aspects like font color, icons, background colors, images, and logo placement. All along, we've planned for flexibility and the widgets in the new designs can be turned on or off - and reordered - to suit. Widgets? The functional elements like the Events box, the stacked news items, and the departmental special interest features (e.g., Footnotes).

There are issues!
The more the Arts & Sciences designs change, the more the issue stays the same. From the beginning of our discussions, Carl Strikwerda, Sue Peterson, and Steve Otto have consistently requested that the global navigation bar be removed or relocated to the top of the designs used for Arts & Sciences sites. From their perspective, the global navigation bar (About, Academics, Admission, etc.) is unnecessary and confusing for visitors to Arts & Sciences sites. A number of A&S department chairs share these concerns - many of them spoke about this at presentation/feedback sessions we hosted. I've heard from many chairs and many faculty through email messages, phone calls, and casual conversations on the paths around the Sunken Garden. Most have offered constructive opinions and feedback - some have been less than civil.

In my professional judgment, global navigation must be obvious and in the same location on all web pages. Consider the global navigation on these familiar sites. In my view these websites represent the current best thinking on interface design and web navigation.

We have used experts to test our design and navigation choices. During usability testing, we included three tasks proposed by the dean's office. The dean's office chose tasks that were intended to get at possible confusion between global navigation and departmental navigation. All of the prospective students we tested were able to accomplish the tasks proposed by Arts & Sciences - 87% (13 of 15 testers) used the navigation offered by the A&S menus and 13% (2 of 15 testers) used the global navigation. The two testers who used the global navigation made a navigation choice that A&S viewed as not ideal; but still, the link the testers chose led to what they were seeking. In my professional judgment, the global navigation bar in the new W&M design works - even within an Arts and Sciences site.

Many faculty have pointed to numerous other college and university sites that do not employ global navigation within their web presences. Unfortunately, there are all too many examples of higher education web sites that are constructed like organizational charts. In my professional judgment, there is much to be gained from a navigation scheme and information architecture that allows our website visitors to find what they seek without understanding the complicated structure of W&M units and departments.

posted by Susan Evans

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's always easy when you don't have to do it.

Key communicators at W&M have been volunteers for the re.web writing effort - Henry Broaddus, Renell Franklin, Joe McClain, Steve Otto, Melissa Pinard, Andrea Sardone, John Wallace, Jaime Welch-Donahue and Brian Whitson are contributing ideas for W&M Impact, W&M Inquiry, and W&M Style. If you've been following the weekly CopyWrite feature on this blog, you know we're working on special interest features for the new website.
It's always easy when you don't have to do it.

So I think I'm a decent writer - I've been posting to this blog, I've been writing for IT for 10 years, in fact, writing has been a part of every job I've ever had. How hard could it be to write a 350 word SPIFF?

So early one Saturday morning, I opened my laptop, and copied a story from W&M News into a Word doc. Armed with a cup of coffee and my keyboard, I planned to follow a good friend's advice - "when writing a SPIFF, boil it down and punch it up."
It's always easy when you don't have to do it.

I've been thinking about what Henry Broaddus said yesterday during our third SPIFF-writing meeting. Loosely quoted, "Are the best SPIFFs born as SPIFFs?" In my words, perhaps we shouldn't start with an existing magazine or news item by default. Some of these pieces will be spiffable, some will not.

None of the features appearing in W&M Impact, W&M Inquiry, and W&M Style will be written by me. I can't write one, but I know a great one when I read it.

posted by Susan Evans

Friday, May 16, 2008

copyWrite - W&M Inquiry

This week's copyWrite post presents a sample entry for a special interest feature that will be called W&M Inquiry. Working with Arthur Knight of W&M's Film Studies Program, the writers at mStoner drafted King Kong Eats College Town. This profile will be used for a series showcasing research from all units within the College as well as other ways, contemporary and historic, in which W&M has put itself ahead of the curve.

W&M Inquiry
King Kong Eats College Town
Film fest paints portrait of Williamsburg reflected off the big screen.

There’s more to Williamsburg’s history than fifes and three-cornered hats. This past February, the William & Mary community celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Kimball Theatre (formerly the Williamsburg Theatre), an old-fashioned single-screen beauty right in the heart of Duke of Gloucester (DoG) Street. Forget the Governor’s Palace; this is where the real Williamsburg history lives. It’s a history of great cinema and a thriving movie-going culture in one of America’s classic small towns.

Williamsburgians toasted the Kimball’s 75th birthday with a unique, four-day film event called “When the Movies Come to Town! Williamsburg and Film History.” Audiences enjoyed free screenings of cinematic classics like King Kong, Gone With the Wind and The Godfather prefaced by scholarly presentations with a Williamsburg focus.

“It combined the best features of a film festival—getting to see great films and have fun watching cool stuff—with the best features of a public intellectual event,” explains Arthur Knight, director of W&M’s Film Studies program and associate professor in both the American Studies and English departments.

The event launched with a special Valentine’s Day show featuring Roman Holiday. Before the show, two William & Mary students shared stories they’d gathered from community interviews about the Williamsburg dating and dancing scene of the 1930s and 40s.

“And then some students from the College’s Ballroom Dance Club and Swing Dance Club gave dance demonstrations interpolated with clips from classic American musicals,” says professor Knight.

The film event proved that we can learn a lot about the values, prejudices, and shifting attitudes of a town and its citizenry by examining how they received the most influential and controversial movies of their time. Something the organizers wanted to examine fully was the history of race relations in Williamsburg and how those played out at the movies.

“That’s one of the things that’s a fraught element of our theater,” explains professor Knight. “The Williamsburg Theatre was segregated until the early 1960s. When Gone With the Wind played there, African Americans couldn’t see the movie.”

The festival’s screening of the groundbreaking 1967 film In the Heat of the Night included a roundtable discussion of race relations “in and at the movies” with scholars from W&M, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia.

The idea for the four-day film event was the brainchild of the Global Film s-GIG (sustained Global Inquiry Group). Professor Knight and his colleagues hope to make the film festival an annual Williamsburg institution, where students and locals can gather to enjoy the best of American and global cinema, and get a little scholarly insight with their Raisinets.

posted by Susan Evans

Thursday, May 15, 2008

An Index, not a concordance

Concordance is a word I've always like the sound of - it's fun to say. A concordance is a list of words or phrases and where they appear and the new W&M A-Z on won't be one.

The new W&M A-Z will be an index of sites at the College. According to the American Society for Indexing, an index is "a systematic arrangement of entries designed to enable users to locate information in a document." Now that's more like it - we'll have one of those.

posted by Susan Evans

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mason, mStoner, May

On May 22 and 23, Voltaire Santos Miran and Patrick DiMichele of mStoner will be on campus to meet with small groups in the Mason School of Business. Jeff Swingle and Joel Pattison are finalizing the details of the visit. Voltaire and Patrick will use the info they gather to propose a new information architecture and home page design concept for

W&M's business school is planning for a spring 2009 re-launch of their website using a new home page concept and design from mStoner.

posted by Susan Evans

Monday, May 12, 2008

For You (whoever you are!)

We've blogged before about the audience gateways we're building. The idea is that from any of the W&M web pages, you (whoever you are) can visit a page that is customized for, well, you!

View the brand-new page layout for the audience gateway pages. When we launch the new website, we'll have gateways filled with useful links and information for:
  • Parents
  • Current Students
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Friends & Neighbors
  • Alumni
posted by Susan Evans

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The State of Cascade

Thanks to some quick and excellent work from Roger Clark, we have a development instance of Cascade Server! But Roger's work isn't done . . . he will now begin the build of test and production environments for Cascade.

Future blog posts will keep you up to date on Cascade at W&M. Mark Windley and Andrew Bauserman are in regular contact (three conference calls per week!) with mStoner's sister company, Global Image. The new W&M website will actually be built off site by Global Image and then transferred to Roger's shiny, new production instance of Cascade later this summer.

Recently Hannon Hill had some nice things to say about the W&M web redesign project on their team blog.

posted by Susan Evans

Friday, May 9, 2008

copyWrite - W&M Style

In this week's copyWrite, we are previewing a sample entry for a special interest feature that will be called W&M Style. Drafted by the writers at mStoner, this entry profiles the quietly quirky, eagerly earnest--but always fun and entertaining--student life and traditions at W&M.
W&M Impact
Wren Ten
A cappella for the people.
William & Mary gets a little crazy about a cappella. With 5,500 undergraduates and 11 different a cappella groups with an average of 15 members each, that means… well, you do the math. But if you attend W&M, chances are you’re either in an a cappella group yourself, are dating someone in an a cappella group, or have had nightmares involving an a cappella group living under your bed.

We hear that some people still don’t understand what’s the “big deal” about a cappella. That’s probably because they’ve only witnessed a cappella in a formal setting, like a big concert in the Wren Great Hall or the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. Sometimes the magic of great a cappella—the seamless harmonizing and vocal acrobatics—are lost when there’s so much distance between the performers and the audience.

That’s why the William & Mary A Cappella Council (yes, there’s an a cappella council) came up with Wren Ten. Wren Ten is the polar opposite of a formal concert. Every Wednesday night at 10pm, one of W&M’s a cappella groups crowds into the Wren Portico for an up-close-and-personal look at world-class a cappella in action.

Why is Wren Ten different? First of all, it’s all about having fun. The performers joke with the crowd, take requests and perform even cheesier skits than usual. Hardcore a cappella fans love it because they can see all of their favorite groups in a casual setting. Newbies love it because it showcases what’s best about a cappella at W&M: the variety of styles, the breadth of repertoire and the fun-loving attitude of the students.

Consult the A Cappella Council website for a current schedule of Wren Ten concerts and experience one of W&M’s most beloved musical traditions in a whole new way.

posted by Susan Evans

Thursday, May 8, 2008

From one 'burg to another

I took my first trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania about two years ago - a few of us from W&M presented at Portals 2006 hosted by Gettysburg College. The folks at Gettysburg (the College that is) put on a great conference and we went back for Portals 2007.

In June 2007, Tina Coleman and I had a chance to hear a presentation led by Paul Redfern (Director of Web Communications & Electronic Media). I remember scribbling down his advice - after all, he'd been through it.

Paul's still helping us out . . . but this time through his blog ("Higher Ed Web Marketing"). Just this week, Paul wrote about the transition of Gettysburg's Web Task Force.

What works in one historic, college town, 'burg works in another, right? Thanks for the lessons learned, Paul.

posted by Susan Evans

Design Previews for Arts & Sciences Faculty

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, we offered open sessions for Arts & Sciences faculty. After working with the Dean's office for nearly eight weeks, we wanted to give all faculty members the chance to see and comment on the designs proposed for Arts & Sciences.

Over the course of the three sessions, we saw twenty or so faculty and staff from Arts & Sciences. Thanks all for your interest as well as your thoughtful ideas and impressions.

posted by Susan Evans

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

GUEST BLOGGER: Using Tribe Voices to establish and consolidate your online identity

Before reading the next paragraph, open up a new browser window or tab and Google your name. What do you see? Perhaps a record of a concert or sports event you were in a few years ago, some similarly-named actor's IMDB entry, or an embarrassing blog of yours from middle school? Take a closer look. Do any of the entries on the first few pages really represent you? In an age when increasing value is placed on internet communication and presence, it's useful to spend time establishing a representation of yourself online. Just like you wouldn't wear dress pants and a pizza-stained t-shirt to an interview, it makes little sense to let net presence fall by the wayside. A bit of time spent establishing this presence can go a long way.

To be more specific, here are three reasons why this should be a priority:
  1. You can control what others see about you. If a future employer, family member, or other individual searches for you online, you want to know exactly what they'll be seeing. If you direct them to your personal homepage, they'll stop there, rather than potentially observing incriminating Facebook photos, an old article you wrote for a high school newspaper, or your recent posts on an internet bulletin board. You're able to portray yourself exactly as you'd like to be seen, publicly.
  2. You can connect with a wider community. Once you're online, people all over the world can interact with your page. Whether you use this advantage for discussing political opinions, finding competition for your favorite PlayStation game, or showing off pictures of your adorable cat, greater accessibility means more meaningful interaction.
  3. You can tie up your 'loose ends' across the internet. If you're particularly proud of a blog of yours, your Flickr photos, and your self-starring YouTube videos, why not make it easy for everyone to find your content in the same place? Link your different identities across the Web with one main page.
Why this post, right now? With last week's release of the Tribe Voices web application, there's been no better time to establish or consolidate your online identity, your home on the Web. With this software, you can easily create a functional and aesthetically-pleasing site for yourself that is easy to maintain. If you haven't set up a Tribe Voices page for yourself yet, get started. The intuitive and convenient walkthroughs and help menus will get you started in a snap.

Once you're set up, here a few tips which can help establish your net presence:
  • Name your site your real name. This is step #1 of making everything come together online. It's not an ego thing, but an issue of practicality: If you call your site your name, that's the first bit of your site that will show up on Google. Drop a cutesy name for one that gets to the point quickly, or potential visitors will go somewhere else.
  • Blog regularly. If you build up an archive of posts with Tribe Voices' easy-to-use blogging integration, visitors will realize that you're invested in your site and that what they see in front of them is not only current, but established.
  • Link freely. Use the external link options to point to your photos, academic work, or school. Just make sure that you're okay with every potential visitor following each link.
  • Use multimedia. Although simple is best in this sort of environment, engaging media, especially if its yours, will help tell others about you in a way that works. Consider starting up a small podcast or video blog to connect in a way that text alone cannot.
  • Read up on search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine optimization, a multi-million dollar industry, is the science of improving the volume and quality of traffic your website receives. It's a pretty technical topic, but worth a little bit of further reading. Take a look at Wayne Smallman's Blah, Blah! Technology blog for some beginner articles.
Hopefully this little bit of advice and encouragement will help with the extremely rewarding process of establishing your internet identity. Visit my personal site at Most importantly, though, check out my Tribe Voices homepage, as it's an example of what can be done in less than an hour with this vibrant and robust new tool.

Get started with Tribe Voices!

posted by K. Andrew DeSoto, '09

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

GUEST BLOGGER: Building a Site with Tribe Voices

The College’s new web-design software is great!

Last year I taught myself how to use the old software that required us to map drives, and then this year I had a class that taught me how to use Dreamweaver. Building a site through W&M Tribe Voices is so much faster and easier, and looks a lot better. I've definitely been advocating on behalf of Tribe Voices. I've been telling everyone I’ve run into that they can now make websites in 10 minutes (that's about how long it took me to get started).

The new software will be particularly useful for student organizations. I currently serve as president of the William & Mary NAACP. As much as we try to plan in advance, we often find ourselves having to respond immediately to situations/issues that arise unexpectedly. Getting essential information out to members and to the general public is often crucial. The new web-design software allows us to do that in ways that were impossible before.

Every person on our four-member Executive Committee has access to the new NAACP website. Anyone of us can update it immediately at any time from any place that has internet access. We were actually discussing having the NAACP go green next year. The new software will definitely aid us in doing that. We can now easily and quickly upload minutes, meeting agendas – whatever documents we need – to the site.

While getting adjusted to the software, I found myself wishing there was a way to change text colors and create sub menus. Other than that, it's been perfect.

I just wanted to thank the re.web Team for pushing forth this much-needed initiative.

Check out the site I created (it honestly took minutes):

posted by Justin Reid '09

VIMS Chooses a Design

Kudos to Barb Parcell and Dave Malmquist. Together, they presented two web design concepts and led the VIMS community through a successful review and comment period. I've done it - it ain't easy.

Have a look at this fabulous new home page design for VIMS.

Here's what top-level pages will look like.

Now let me hear you say, "Aaaahhhh."

posted by Susan Evans

Monday, May 5, 2008

GUEST BLOGGER: It's not about us anymore...

I had several titles for this post, including:

The more things change, the more things REALLY change...

Out with the old (marketing), in with the new (marketing)....

We're hearing a lot about web 2.0 these days. We've watched YouTube videos and joined LinkedIn and we've even visited some of our colleagues' MySpace pages. However, some of the conversations I've been having with our content creators in the Mason School and with those in the re.web project, indicate that we still operate under the impression that web 2.0 is for them and we'll just keep doing what we've been doing. After all, we ARE William & Mary for crying out loud!

Newsflash: Web 2.0 is for us because it is about THEM.

Business to Consumer marketing (B2C) is over. It's Consumer to Consumer (C2C) marketing now. People are highly sophisticated (and a little cynical) when it comes to parsing out what's important to them. THEY are not interested in what we have to say unless we're talking with them and not AT them. The old marketing was to blast a consumer with images and messages. New marketing is to get people talking about the product and recommending it to each other. People still trust each other when it comes to decisions. Word of mouth and referrals from friends and family are still the way people make decisions and form opinions. The web can facilitate this in ways we've never imagined.

We can do this in the form of blogs. Yes, it's a little scary but there are ways to moderate them and bloggers have a great way of policing themselves, too. Because of the viral nature of the internet, blogs are indexed, tracked, and spread around the world. Blogs index each other, so one article could become singled out and influential. (Remember the old hair shampoo commercial--and they told two people, and so on, and so on...) has tracked that there are over 80 million blogs worldwide now. The conversations are happening between people and we will be smart to join the conversations and give people opportunities to talk with us and about us.

Realize this: A post on a blog anywhere in the world can be ranked higher in a Google search than the same information posted on a website by a company or an organization. This means that what WE say doesn't matter as much was what the bloggers say. Major news organizations are now dipping into the "blogosphere" for news!

People are sharing opinions and insights about products, institutions, and ideas that carry a lot more credibility than we can ever dream of. The point is that the best way to get more people talking and thinking about William and Mary is to to encourage more talking and thinking about W&M. The bottom line is that ideas that are spread through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas that are delivered at an individual. The idea of William and Mary is a powerful one. Our students that come here know this and the more they talk about it, the better. Their experiences and the viral nature of the internet is a powerful combination.

We need to embrace the C2C concept and create more access points for our stories to be told and heard and repeated, an so on and so on. Blogs, wikis, vlogs--it sounds like a different language. Because it is. The internet has created a whole new world for communication.

posted by Andrea Sardone, Director of Marketing Communications, The Mason School of Business

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Where in the world is roclar ?

roclar = the WMuserid and nickname for Roger Clark, the IT Unix engineer who is a favorite guru of the re.web team

We don't know where roclar is right now, but we do know what he's doing. Last week, we got the license for Hannon Hill Cascade and Roger (think roclar) is doing what it takes to install it on campus. Never underestimate the complexity of installing enterprise software - Roger will orchestrate many inter-related elements like:
  • hardware (web servers)
  • database
  • security
  • load-balancing (multiple web servers in case one fails)
Thanks in advance for the great foundation, Roger.

P.S. Check out the Hannon Hill announcement about W&M as a new customer.

posted by Susan Evans

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Come see for yourself

On May 6, 7 and 8, we are hosting three sessions open to all Arts & Sciences faculty. Please join us to see the proposed web designs and page layouts for Arts & Sciences. Here's a sample department homepage. We need your thoughts, impressions, and feedback.
Tuesday, May 6 at 2:00PM

Wednesday, May 7 at 10:00AM

Thursday, May 8 at 11:00AM

All sessions will be held in Blow Memorial Hall, Room 311. Refreshments provided.

posted by Susan Evans

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Standing Room Only

Joel Pattison and I ended the day today with about 50 faculty members in Arts & Sciences. After weeks of reviewing, discussing, and modifying page layouts, we presented design concepts, created as possible layouts for departmental webpages in Arts & Sciences, to the Dean's Advisory Council.

Joel and I enjoyed hearing the feedback about the concepts firsthand. I am regularly encouraged by the commitment and concern of W&M faculty. Our new web presence will be outstanding because those who are the heart of the academic experience are a part of re.web.

posted by Susan Evans