CSUN fills staffing hole with new web manager

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The university recently hired its first full-time web manager to address issues of web development, maintenance and compliance.

CSUN’s new manager of university web communications, Joseph O’Conner, will also address a number of issues dealing with the university’s online presence, including access and content issues and managing the overall updated look of CSUN’s various web pages.

“Now we have someone full-time who can organize and update our website, be compliant with the (Americans with) Disabilities Act and establish workshops for web developers,” said Ken Swisher, director of marketing communications for Public Relations and Strategic Communication.

Administrators have said the management of CSUN’s websites has been historically understaffed compared with other similar universities.

“We looked at other campuses and found that they had three to five people, compared to CSUN, which (had) less than one person,” Swisher said.

Before coming to CSUN, O’Conner spent seven years at Pasadena City College, coordinating its new media center and redesigning its educational home page. His goal was to create a look and feel for PCC’s website that best represented the college’s atmosphere.

He added that student participation in the process at PCC was integral, and that student involvement in his work at CSUN will also be important.

“It’s something I hope to accomplish at CSUN,” said O’Conner, who focused his attention on the user interface and how it functions from a user’s perspective at PCC.

O’Conner said he will form a work group of webmasters at CSUN to ensure that its website is not only compliant, but useable, while adding an additional two to three people to the university’s web management department.

“It’s safe to say we’ll be getting (the work group) together this semester, and that it will take time to assemble,” O’Conner said.

CSUN President Jolene Koester implemented a University Web Management Committee last year to address the lack of overall management of CSUN’s websites. The committee will decide the number of people needed for the department.

“We got together last fall and by winter we had the results, and then a proposal was made in spring, and this fall we hired someone,” Swisher said, adding that the university thinks it can make significant development in service within six months.

While at PCC, O’Conner used focus groups with documented videotape and written evidence for the college’s redesign of its website.

“We paid attention to students with disabilities, and we made sure we paid attention to the students’ needs,” O’Conner said.

As to what constitutes a good website, opinions are varied.

“(A good one is) one that has easy navigation, is attractive, and contains information needed, and the address of the page is easy to find,” said Cecile Bendavid, who teaches COMP 100 at CSUN, and is president of Computer Resources Unlimited Inc.

“The web is the first impression for students who are much more technically savvy,” Swisher said, adding that he hopes to create a more unified look and feel on CSUN’s website for its student users.

Kevin Grenon can be reached at kevin.grenon.28@csun.edu.