Jennifer Newsom had been working as an assistant professor for just two years when she “inherited” the position of organizer for her university’s annual literature conference. “It’s one of those things,” she said with half a smile, “that you can’t say no to when you are new and working towards tenure.” Newsom was not given much in the way of support for the new position, either. The previous organizer had left for another school, and the materials were a bit disorganized to say the least.
“I had almost nothing,” said Newsom. “I knew we had a university account, but I had no idea if there was any money in it, or what the account number was.” Likewise, the conference had a website, but it was dated, shabby, difficult to navigate and, most importantly for Newsom, she didn’t have the passwords necessary to update it at all. “Even if I did, I don’t really have that kind of expertise. I’m a Dickens scholar. What do I know about building websites?”
With the conference only months away, Newsom called an old friend from graduate school for advice. “My friend Nancy mentioned that there were companies out there who build and resell websites,” said Newsom. “I had never considered a website reseller or outsourced web design, but with all of the other things I needed to do, I thought it was at least worth looking into.”
At first, Newsom was doubtful it would work. Universities tend to be very careful about how they spend money, and she didn’t think she would be approved for a request to use companies that resell websites. She was right. “My request for university funding was rejected fairly quickly,” said Newsom, “but the next day, I received an email from the budget office letting me know about some grant opportunities that might help me out.” Newsom found a few different grant programs that funded web development for professional and academic organizations. She found one in particular that specifically funded web design outsourcing, and she decided that it was worth a chance.
“Once I had the funding for website outsourcing, I contacted a few of these companies that resell websites,” said Newsom. Among the many website resellers, she found one that was willing to work within her funded budget due to her status as a representative of a nonprofit organization. “They were just fantastic,” said Newsom. “The new website looked so much better than the old one, and it saved me time in so many other areas as well.” The web designer constructed a site that not only provided information about the conference, but also contained a submission tool. This allowed Newsom to receive conference abstracts in a much more efficient manner than she had initially planned. “I had so many compliments on the conference,” she said, “and they all started with the quality of the website.”