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"The most useful features are the permissions management and the workflow approval."

Student Life's Craig Cardon is moving 100 websites into the system

What’s the scope of your work with Student Life?

Student Life is comprised of several departments with vastly different missions. Managing the web sites for these departments is a challenging task. While many desire a unique look and feel, their main concern is ensuring their content is accurate and up to date. In the past this has meant several weeks of building a web site layout and then populating it the content only to have to constantly update the content as information changes. This is a daunting task for a small web team that is managing over 100 different web sites. This is even more challenging given that the vast majority of the web team is comprised of students who have limited hours and longevity. Much time is spent training new employees on web management systems.

Image: Craig Cardon.
Photo by Claire Gentry/BYU Photo

How many sites have you moved into BYU Websites so far? And can you name a few examples that people can look at?

So far we have moved 6 sites into BYU Websites. These include:

Sites that we are currently working on include the Honor Code Office, Title IX, Women’s Services and Resources, Counseling and Physiological Services, University Police, and Emergency Management Services. The goal is to have all but a few select sites moved onto the Brightspot platform by the end of the school year then focus our attention on training and improvement.

How has BYU Websites made your work easier?

BYU Websites has made it much easier to create and manage web sites. The resources available are very useful in understanding the web standards and policies for the university. The training modules provide enough instruction to allow new users the ability to get started on the Brightspot platform, which provides provides the web hosting capabilities departments require. The built in templates make it easy to format a site and arrange content the way a department wants. As a “headless” platform all the content can be input and then arranged in a variety of formats.

There is very little customized code that is needed to get the desired results. Content can be put in once and accessed in different locations so that it is consistent. Once photos are uploaded they are optimized for display, which makes pages load faster. Everything is mobile friendly and can be previewed in various formats for phones and tablets.
Craig Cardon - Student Life

What is your favorite feature in BrightSpot?

The permissions management allows site administrators to add content managers based on their CAS accounts. There is no longer a need for separate user names and passwords that have to get passed on to new employees. This makes it much simpler to maintain permissions and much more secure. The workflow approval system allows program and department leaders to preview content before it is posted. People within the department can create content and submit it to an approver for review. After any corrections the approver can simply click a button to have it posted to their site. This is all done within the Brightspot platform making the process very efficient. This allows our departments the ability to keep their information up to date without having to involve an external web team.

What is an enhancement you’d like to see in the system?

There are a few enhancements to Brightspot that would increase its functionality. The first is the ability to easily display video banners. Many site owners like using the video banners because it catches people’s attention. Currently there is no clean way of doing this Brightspot. Another feature is the ability to process forms. Many of our departments have various forms they use to collect information in order to better serve the students using their services. Currently form information is only available through an email or an exported CSV file. In many cases this is less efficient than what the departments need. It is easy enough to create forms on a different platform on link them to Brightspot so it is not a major concern. The great thing is that so far, Perfect Sense has been responsive in adding desired features. Some will take longer to implement than others, but there is a reasonable expectation that over the years Brightspot will continue to be improved.