How do universities handle support for departmental websites? In particular, I'm thinking about design and development of new sites.
Here at Essex we have a central web team responsible for all the usual corporate parts of the website, but each department/centre/whatever has its own sub-site. We started off leading by example, providing training, support and encouragement and the standard of these sub-sites has steadily improved, but it soon became clear that there was a need for a web design and development service for depts without the skills and/or staff time to do this work. So a few years ago we adopted a model where we provide this service, charging the dept £10 (now £12) per hour (this is the only service we charge for). The rate was set to be competitive so that depts would come to us rather than use casual student labour, but clearly doesn't cover our real costs.
I'd be very interested to hear how other universities approach this: Do you provide a central design service for sub-sites? If so, do you charge (and how much?)? What are the pros and cons of the approach you've taken? If you don't charge, how do you prioritise the demands on your time for this kind of work?
Our approach seems to work reasonably well for the kind of university we are, where depts are relatively independent (as reflected by their websites, so no standard templates here, even though look and feel has generally converged with the corporate approach over recent years). But I'm aware that as far as the university is concerned we're really just shuffling money from pocket to pocket with this system: it'd be far tidier if we could just drop the charging. But on the other hand, charging has been quite effective in rationing our services and in concentrating minds on what's required for the job (if they keep changing their minds, they pay for it!), so perhaps we should really *increase* the charge...
If enough responses come to me I'll happily summarise them for the list.
Web Support Manager, University of Essex
[log in to unmask] 01206 874327
Web support: http://www.essex.ac.uk/wag/