As I mentioned in a previous post about new initiatives in the higher ed designer community, John Strubel, Higher Ed Experts member and Web developer at Charleston Southern University, has been working very hard on a new website targeted to university web designers: eduDesigners.com. I’ve been watching the site developed over the past couple of weeks and I’m really impressed with the quality of what I saw. That’s why I asked John to tell us more about this new initiative.
1) You’ve just launched a new website targeted to web designers working in colleges and universities. Why did you decide to start this new venture now?
That’s a great question. I launched the site because the more I “Googled” help topics for fixes, bugs, etc., the more frustrated I was getting. There are tons of help sites, tutorials and code forums on the web, but none relate to content specifically for edu developers. That audience is significant. So I decided, if I can’t find it, build it.
I have learned a lesson very early in the process. The more designers/developers, CIO’s, marketing and PR people and the like I speak to, the more I realize our challenges are the same. I work at a private university in South Carolina with 3,200 students and I deal with the same challenges that .edu developers have in colleges 10 times larger (literally). When I identified that, I knew I was on to something that could benefit others.
2) While still very new, your website already offers great content, how did you pull it off?
I appreciate the kind words. Honestly, getting the site together has been relatively easy. I spoke to my chief information officer at the university (Rusty Bruns), he was very supportive of the idea and encouraged me to reach out to other designers. So I’ve been able to shuffle duties and schedule some phone interviews around my day-to-day duties. Most people I have contacted have been very receptive. I enjoy talking about the process, learning new techniques and getting fresh ideas from my peers and leaders in the industry. It wouldn’t be possible without their input.
3) How do you plan to sustain/support this new website?
On two levels:
1. Content: This is my priority at launch. The level of success will directly depend on creating useful resources for web designers and developers exclusively in the higher education field. I am going to focus on content that directly affects our everyday work. With that in mind, as you will notice from the blog section, I will encourage readers to contribute content, feedback, story ideas and suggestions. I am hoping this will be a collaborative effort, using many designers “voices” to drive the conversation.
2. Promotion/Marketing: The marketing and promotion of the site will be very grass roots. eduDesigners is working with uwebd to include feature headlines, traditional linkbacks from other edu bloggers and word-of-mouth. The more we connect with designers and build relationships, the more credibility and traffic the site will get.