Publisher focus group: initial reactions

Last week Web Solutions and Web Development held 2 focus groups with almost 30 web publishers to gather their thoughts on the current web publishing model. As I am sure you have already read from our previous posts (link to category) our goal is to see if we can make the act of web publishing more effective to benefit not only the web publishers but also the experience for our end users. This can come in wide range of methods so hearing first hand from the web publishers would be essential for the success of this project.

What they liked

  • Flexibility of Dreamweaver and the range of packages already on offer (Dreamweaver, WordPress, Events Factory, Photoshop etc).
  • Being skilled in a wide range of packages. There was an inherent worry that replacing our current model with something new would deskill web publishers in some areas.
  • Having Web Support at hand when issues do arise.

What they disliked

  • Initial learning curve of using Dreamweaver can be overwhelming at the beginning.
  • When something goes wrong in Dreamweaver, it can be difficult to fix especially if the main web publisher is away on leave.
  • Design view in Dreamweaver is unreliable and not representative of the output
  • The theme as a whole. This is being addressed in a separate project by the Web Development team.

What they would like

  • Version control would be helpful especially given the cyclical nature of academic websites. Being able to have different versions for different years without needing to delete or hunt around for a page would be beneficial. From a pre-live content approval process most are happy with using email and Microsoft Word.
  • Built in best practice to enable, not constrain creativity and consistency.
  • Delegation of web publisher duties but a clear approval mechanism before rollout to live.
  • Link checking and a consolidation of the disparate systems such as news, events and Google Analytics
  • More up to date Knowledge base articles.


We plan on looking into some of the points in the focus groups in more depth and analyse effectively. These notes are general observations that I made during the 2 focus groups. That being said what I took away most from this is that Web Publishers are currently very skilled with Dreamweaver and the related systems and maybe we could help more in the short term with more effective documentation which includes screenshots or screencasts. In addition the requirements are sometimes contradictory. The strength of Dreamweaver is also a weakness. Being skilled in Dreamweaver and the flexibility it provides is directly related to the issues of difficult bugs to fix, simplicity and efficiency of web publishing.

We hope to release a more consolidated bullet list of our findings in the next few weeks on this blog.

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