At least a couple of times a month, I have a phone conversation with someone at a college or university who is on the verge of a web redesign project. Occasionally, I also hear from individuals who want to know more about how we established a creative services office at William & Mary.
I enjoy talking with others who work in higher education. It’s fun to share my experiences related to selecting a CMS, managing relationships with external partners, writing RFPs, testing designs, and even how to go about confirming IA. During a recent conversation, the person on the other end of the phone said, “You certainly have been lucky and in the right place at the right time.” I’ve been thinking about that comment for the past few days. With a nod to Tina Turner, my initial reaction was, “What’s luck got to do with it?”
After reflection, I agree I have been lucky. Web communication has been a part of my career for 13 years and, more than once, luck was on my side:
- I was in the room when William & Mary’s webmaster (it was 1999) announced that we needed a “toolkit” for departments to use for managing their web pages. At the time, my IT web team took that grain of an idea and turned it into our first CMS (a homegrown templating system we deployed and supported).
- The provost, and then executive sponsor for the 2007-2009 web redesign project at William & Mary, announced to the faculty that prospective students would be the primary audience for the new university website. Some of you may not recognize the importance of this proclamation; my guess is, if you’ve ever led a redesign project, you’ll immediately understand.
- mStoner came to campus and gave a killer presentation. That July 2007 meeting with Voltaire Santos Miran and Patrick DiMichele turned into a successful partnership that was, and still is, critical to the William & Mary communication strategy.
- I married a professor. Well, he wasn’t when I married him and it’s not the reason I did. Still, the perspective I’ve gained and the depth of understanding I have about the academic enterprise is directly tied to the life we’ve built together.
Perhaps it’s true, I’ve been at the lucky crossroad where preparation and opportunity collided.