Web Site Design and Content Management Analysis: Opportunities for Service-Learning Projects

By Hettche, Matt; Clayton, Michael | Journal of Advertising Education, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Web Site Design and Content Management Analysis: Opportunities for Service-Learning Projects


Hettche, Matt, Clayton, Michael, Journal of Advertising Education


Abstract

This article examines the opportunity that marketing and advertising educators have to direct service-learning projects in interactive marketing for community partners who request help with a Web site upgrade or redesign. Service-learning pedagogy is based on the interaction and aligned interests of four distinct groups: faculty (as content specialists), students, the university (as a mission-driven social institution) and community partners. After discussing the goals and scope of service-learning and how it applies to business programs and advertising curricula, the paper outlines a process model for service-learning projects that focuses on Web site design and content management analysis. Theoretical frameworks, reference studies and tactical processes for project completion are examined and discussed.

It is not uncommon for academics working in the advertising and marketing field to receive consulting requests from community organizations and businesses about a Web site upgrade or redesign. For many organizations, a Web site interface serves as a primary communication channel with stakeholders and often provides a point of first contact for interested prospects. In fact, in today's hyper-connected, wired world it is often less of a question of "Who has a Web site?" (versus "Who doesn't have a Web site?"), as much as it is: "How are the Web site's performance, usability, platform relevance and currency (i.e., being up-to-date)?". Small business owners and nonprofits, in particular, are quickly catching on to the value and competitive advantage that a functional and engaging Web site can bring. Factor in several high-quality opensource development options, such as Joomla, WordPress and Drupal, and it now appears that universities with advertising and marketing programs dedicated to the study of digital channels have both the resources and intellectual capital for the asking. "Surely, there is someone at the college/university that can help with my Web site upgrade" is a familiar sentiment expressed, usually followed by the ominous: "I mean how hard could it really be? I am sure a college student could figure mis out in no time, aren't they all whizzes at this stuff?"

This article examines the opportunity that advertising and marketing educators have to direct service-learning projects in interactive marketing research, content management analysis and Web site performance metrics for community partners who request help with a Web site upgrade or redesign. Very broadly, service-learning pedagogy is predicated on the interaction and aligned interests of four distinct groups: faculty (as content specialists), students, the university (as a mission-driven social institution) and community partners. After discussing the goals and scope of service learning and how, in particular, it applies to business programs and advertising/marketing curricula, this paper outlines a process model for service-learning projects focused on Web site design and content management analysis. The process model is partially a product of a framework developed by the authors in 20092011 in a pair of senior-level undergraduate courses ("Database Marketing" and "Creative Approaches in Direct/Interactive Marketing") that required co-enrollment and the sharing of a common community client. Theoretical frameworks, reference studies and tactical processes for project completion are examined and discussed. The paper concludes with recommendations for future replications of Web site redesign service-learning projects.

The Goals and Scope of Service Learning University/community dichotomy. When evaluating the performance and productivity of faculty members, a well-entrenched for many colleges and universities is the tite distinction among teaching, research service. Whereas research and teaching sibilities typically account for the bulk of academic's "on-the-clock" activities, colleges and universities, nonetheless, have a long tradition of civic and social engagement with local communities (Feiten & Clayton, 2011). …

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