Those of us working in higher ed web teams often say we wear a lot of hats because few of us only have one role or responsibility. We’re developers who are also designers, content strategists who are also project managers and occasional therapists. But what if there was one all-powerful hat you could wear that improved how all the other “hats” on your team get great things done? One hat that not only empowers your team, but also the hats on all other teams that have a role in developing, designing, and growing your website?
This is the hat of the Product Owner, and learning how to wear it can transform how you think about your .edu for the better. Because your website is a product, with its own unique users and specific measurable goals we expect it to achieve. It is a product that needs feeding, care and maintenance, needs to be serving audiences in a way that meets their expectations, now and onward into the future.
In fact, your .edu may be the most visible and valuable “product” your institution shares with the world — so why do so few of us, if any, have a single person on staff devoted to making sure that our website users are getting the best experience we can deliver, and planning what comes next?
Well, for one thing, being in that role just might drive you crazy. It might exhaust you and test everything you thought you knew about building websites, working with teams, and navigating the silos and politics of higher ed campuses. But it might also be the most exciting, most creative, and most rewarding role of your career.
Whether you’re a developer, a designer, a content specialist, a digital strategist—anyone with a passion for understanding what it takes to deliver a great user experience can try on the Product Owner hat and see how it fits. I’ll introduce you to the skills and training that have helped me most in my first year as the Web Product Owner for Ithaca College, and share first-hand insights on how adding this new role to our web team transformed not just a head-to-tail site upgrade, but how we’re thinking about the future of the web overall.
Dave CameronSenior Web Strategist
Dave Cameron is a human who likes to enable other humans to create, discover, and share awesome experiences with the world. Currently senior web strategist and product lead at Ithaca College, he has worked in higher ed communications for 15 years. A member of the HighEdWeb Association since 2012, he has been a red-stapler and best-of-conference presenter, regional keynote speaker, and regional conference co-chair. He's spoken at TEDx and other conferences, and writes regularly at dave-cameron.com about working better by being more human. When not working or learning, Dave is practicing sleight-of-hand magic, enjoying the finest local food and drink of the Finger Lakes, and generally hanging out with his awesome wife.