Taming the Beast: Rogue Websites in Higher Ed

by Marcel Ayers on May 12, 2015

A modern content management system (CMS) is designed to address the web and digital marketing needs of your institution. The problem is that a lot of colleges and universities use older systems that lack in functionality and don’t have user buy-in. As a result, users create rogue websites for their content. When the history department wants a more memorable URL, the mathematics staff wants control over site design, or some other unmet need is perceived, users create content outside of your institution’s website and CMS workflow — rogue websites! So what’s the harm?

Unofficial WebsitesLack of a Unified Web Presence

Uniform and consistent branding assures visitors that the information provided on the site is official, which adds credibility to the content. Credible, accurate content that’s consistent with your overall brand and message strengthens your search engine optimization efforts. Pages managed using a modern CMS can ensure the official brand is used accurately and consistently. Consistency in the presentation of your brand and message is also important when viewing search results from your own site.

Legal Risks and Accessibility Problems

The risk of creating rogue websites goes beyond visitor satisfaction. Legal issues can arise from a lack of web standards compliance. A modern CMS enforces accessibility standards, which means external sites may not have the functionality for accessibility validation. In addition, the institution owns control over the content within the CMS and is guaranteed the ability to modify or delete content should information need to be added or removed.

Inefficient and Unsustainable

A modern CMS should also facilitate efficient use of resources. A multi-user system with workflow and approval processes should increase the speed of content delivery. Additionally, a modern CMS is, by design, a framework for sustainability. Reusable content assets and templates that can be modified for the inevitable evolution of web technology are just two examples of how a modern CMS framework allows your website to evolve with very little effort. Rogue (one-off) websites dangerously trade short-term perceived gains for long-term efficiency and sustainability.

Steps to Tame the Beast

So how can you prevent and deal with rogue websites?

  • Ensure needs are being met – Facilitate thorough dialog that bridges the gap between the key benefits of a CMS and rogue user needs.
  • Establish a web advisory council – Create a council of influential individuals to advise the development of the institution’s website and implement policies and guidelines.
  • Enforce policies – Ensure a uniform and consistent image of the institution through policies and guidelines.
  • Explain the value of the brand – Help your users understand the importance of brand reinforcement for all content on the institution’s website.

Given the knowledge and product functionality of a modern CMS like OU Campus™, your users should feel empowered to create web and digital marketing content without going rogue.

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