Site Architecture & Maintenance Plans

Whether or not your department has a fully functioning website in the new Ingeniux platform, it is of vital importance that some sort of documentation be made and maintained regarding your department's web strategy, if indeed your department has a web strategy in the first place. Existing as we do in a 21st century world requires fresh thinking, and a more responsible approach to web management on the grassroots level--that's you, the site builders and administrators in departments and offices around campus.

What & Why?

A documented Site Information Architecture (SIA) is like what the constitution is for a government, albeit for the holding together of an office or department website rather than a whole nation. This documentation will include a maintenance plan detailing how the site can be kept current and up-to-date, and will answer the "who, what, why, and how?" of your site content and approach. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all departments and offices, that as soon as the office web master leaves (retires/graduates/transfers), so does the know-how and maintenance of the associated website. While Ingeniux and the Role Manager system is able to track who has access to each site and when changes were made to each page, it cannot track the quality, efficacy, and accuracy of content displayed on individual departmental sites. This is where SIAs and human responsibility come into play.

The hope of having such plans entrenched within each office, is that in 1, 5, or 10+ years time, regardless of what tools or platforms are in place (these will inevitably change over time), that the public web content of each department will be current and useful to visitors of that site. Please note that documenting a SIA does not take a long time--the CTO Lab SIA took less than an hour to plan and write up!

Who?

So, who needs to be involved in a department's web strategy? You may be surprised that it's not just the "web/tech guy" in the office who needs to know what is going on with your online presence. The following individuals need to be an active part in the creation and maintenance of the SIA and web strategy (Note: depending on the size and scope of your office's operations, the following could be handled all by one individual, to upwards of 5+ people):

  • Department/Office head -- as the key decision maker in your department, the head needs to know what the feet are doing, and may have insights into what may or may not work online.
  • Role Manager Assistant -- role managing rights as a default are given to the chief office secretary or assistant. This individual has access (via roles.byui.edu) to grant access to individuals for different online functions, including web building on Ingeniux.
  • Web Manager -- while this person often is the office secretary/assistant, your department may have assigned another fulltime faculty or staff member to be the individual ultimately responsible for maintaining the office website.
  • Web Builders -- many offices choose to "outsource" the daily maintenance and web building to students or other temporary employees; this is fine, as long as the web manager is also comfortable and competent enough to navigate around and make updates in the web builder platform if necessary. Again, depending on the size and scope of your operations, there could be several web builders in your office or department who take charge over certain sections or aspects of the site.

How?

Provided here is an example of the SIA for the CTO Lab's small website, which may be a useful reference when documenting your own web strategy. For larger departments and offices especially, University Communications strongly recommends reviewing Princeton's Site Architecture Guide for more detailed tips on how to approach your site design, etc. Please note that a site plan is much more than just a site map, which only shows the flow of pages within your site.

As you start the documentation process you will need to answer the following questions:

  • Who do we serve? (i.e. what is our intended audience)
  • What do we do? (i.e. what goods/services do we provide)
  • What do we need to communicate?
  • Who are the stakeholders? (i.e. those sharing with, or dependant on our services)

As you can see from the following examples, each office needs to use its web space very differently; click on the left image to see the very simple Internal Audit site, and on the right image to see the much more in-depth Student Support site:


Maintenance Plan

Many office sites have already been created; if this is true for your department, and if you are happy with what is being presented and feel it is working well, then simply document this formally into a formal web strategy. However, something else that is an absolutley essential part of your SIA is a maintenance plan. A site maintenance plan again is very simple (refer to CTO Lab SIA to see an example), but ensures that a) your site will be kept accurate and current, and b) if the main webmaster leaves, you will have a system in place that allows your site to continue functioning until you get a replacement. As a guideline, your MP might include the following:

  • Maintenance Schedule -- this could say for example how often the site will need to be updated (at the beginning of each week/semester/other), or how often it will be checked for errors or dudd links; it could state who will be in charge of these checks and updates (web manager, web builder, other).
  • List Web Personnel -- it is recommended the small organizational structure of your "web officers" be documented, along with the names of the staff occupying those roles; this helps to spread responsibility so that if the main "web guy" leaves, you aren't stuck.
  • Training Schedule -- this could state that all web builders must be a partof the webdev group, and outline how new web builders/managers will be trained (e.g. attend x hours of webdev workshops/read through online web training/be trained by existing web manager, etc.).

There may be other items to add to your maintenance plan to ensure your web strategy can exist online rather than on paper only. But the purpose is simple--we don't want to have false, old, or inaccurate information on BYUI webspace that ends up wasting instead of saving time--your maintenance plan can help your office take charge of the situation.