2011 Site Renovation for a Social Web

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Much has changed in the 15 years since university presses began to place their catalogs on the World Wide Web. Today’s most visited website is Facebook, not Google, and attention is as much a function of social networking as of search traffic. This session starts with some basic questions: at a moment when a publisher’s Web presence is dispersed among blogs, Twitter feeds, tumblrs, Wikipedia, Facebook pages, YouTube, iTunes channels, and mobile apps, how relevant is our central site? What is it for, what should it look like, and what should it do? Panelists will draw on recent experience upgrading their Web presence, and will address site architecture and navigation, design and branding, search, satellites and micro-sites, and other issues. One panelist will focus exclusively on design matters, and all will offer direction for presses seeking to refashion their sites for the Web’s social ecology.

Chair: Dean Blobaum, Electronic Marketing Manager, University of Chicago Press

Panelists: Doug Armato, Director, University of Minnesota Press; Dean Blobaum; Isaac Tobin, Senior Designer, University of Chicago Press

Introductions and Remarks by the Chair

Publisher websites--and university presses created some of the first publisher websites-have been around for more than 15 years, and most, I hope, have been through several iterations. This session will talk about the revision process. The web of 2011 is vastly different from the web of 1995 and even from the web of just a few years ago. Where once the web presence of a publisher was contained within the virtual bounds of their website, our presence has now multiplied into blogs, Twitter feeds, and tumblers, pages on Wikipedia and Facebook, and channels on YouTube and iTunes.

Website revision now takes place in the context of a dispersed and social web. What is the role of the publisher website now? Should we make virtual connections between our website and the social web and if so how? How does the website fit into (or maybe converse with) the ecology of social media?

Before the introductions, if I could just poll the audience: How many of you have recently finished or are in the midst of a website revision? Thank you. I hope you will add your experiences during the discussion period. How many of you are not doing a website revision but wish you were? How many of you are doing a website revision and now wish you weren’t?

Doug Armato has been Director of the University of Minnesota Press since 1998, where he also acquires books in digital media and social theory. Prior to coming to Minnesota, he was Associate Director and Book Division Manager at The Johns Hopkins University Press. In a 30+ year career in scholarly publishing, he also worked in marketing and editorial at Columbia University Press, Basic Books, LSU Press, and the University of Georgia Press. He is a past president of the AAUP and served two terms on the association's Board of Directors. But his crowning achievement came just last week, when he finally taught himself PowerPoint.

I have been at the University of Chicago Press for more than 20 years and Electronic Marketing Manager at Chicago since 2000. The job constantly changes, though the title remains the same. Currently my areas of responsibility are direct-to-consumer sales online and offline, the creation of website content to support and enhance the content of books, and the marketing of e-books.

Isaac Tobin is a senior designer at the University of Chicago Press, where he's been since 2005. Before Chicago he worked at Beacon Press. He grew up in Hawaii, has a BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has received numerous design awards from the AIGA, the AAUP, the Type Director's Club, The Society of Typographic Arts, and Print Magazine. You should definitely visit isaactobin.com and see his work.

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