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Rethinking Our Approach to Website Content Management

Fourteen-hundred pages with 70 different authors, all sharing information about library services, resources, and policies — over the past eight years, any interested library staff member has been able to post and edit content on the Duke University Libraries (DUL) website. Staff have been able to work independently, using their own initiative to share information that they thought would be helpful to the people who use our website.

Unfortunately, DUL has had no structure for coordinating this work or even for providing training to people undertaking this work. This individualistic approach has led to a complex website often containing inconsistent or outdated information. And this is all about to change.

Our new approach

We are implementing a team-based approach to manage our website content by establishing the Web Editorial Board (WEB) comprised of 22 staff from departments throughout DUL. The Editors serving on WEB will be the only people who will have hands-on access to create or edit content on our website. We recognize that our primary website is a core publication of DUL, and having this select group of Editors work together as a team will ensure that our content is cared for, cohesive, and current. Our Editors have already undertaken training on topics such as writing for the web, creating accessible content, editing someone else’s content, and using our content management system.

Our Editors will apply their training to improve the quality and consistency of our website. As they undertake this work, they will collaborate with other Editors within WEB as well as with subject matter experts from across the libraries. All staff at DUL will be able to request changes, contribute ideas, and share feedback with WEB using either a standard form or by contacting Editors directly.

The scope of work undertaken by WEB includes:

  • Editing, formatting, and maintaining all content on DUL’s Drupal-based website
  • Writing new content
  • Retiring deprecated content
  • Reviewing, editing, and formatting content submitted to WEB by DUL staff, and consulting with subject matter experts within DUL
  • Deepening their expertise in how to write and format website content through continuing education

While there are times when all 22 Editors will meet together to address common issues or collaborate on site-wide projects, much of the work undertaken by WEB will be organized around sub-teams that we refer to as content neighborhoods, each one meeting monthly and focused on maintaining different sections of our website. Our eight sub-teams range in size from two to five people. Having sub-teams ensures that our Editors will be able to mutually support one another in their work.

Initially, Editors on WEB will serve for a two-year term, after which some members will rotate off so that new members can rotate on. Over time it will be helpful to balance continuity in membership with the inclusion of fresh viewpoints.

WEB was created following a recommendation developed by DUL’s Web Experience Team (WebX), the group that provides high-level governance for all of our web platforms. Based on this WebX recommendation, the DUL Executive Group issued a charge for WEB in the spring and WEB began its orientation and training during the summer of 2021. Members of WEB will soon be assisting in our migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 by making key updates to content prior to the migration. Once we complete our migration to Drupal 9 in March 2022, we will then limit hands-on access to create or edit content in Drupal to the members of WEB.

The charge establishing WEB contains additional information about WEB’s work, the names of those serving on WEB, and the content neighborhoods they are focusing on.