Evolving Edupack: A One-Size Fits All Plugin Leads to an Accessibility Platform and Enhanced Agency Services
A little over a year ago, I cofounded Edupack with Nathan Monk and Matt Lees. Edupack endeavored to simplify Higher Ed website publishing with a single WordPress plugin.
For many months, Edupack met with folks from over 40 universities, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Georgetown. We identified key problems around accessibility, governance, and sunsetting sites with stale content. Lessons from countless user interviews led to months of user testing before we released a coded version in early 2022.
Now, Edupack is evolving.
I now believe that a one size fits all website publishing product is not possible. Each university has its own set of requirements. The requirements vary from the placement of buttons to the type of accessibility a university mandates. In the end, universities shouldn’t sacrifice individual requirements for ease of use.
The features that can be productized are largely around content accessibility. In our Edupack interviews, Higher Ed admins said they were overwhelmed by accessibility issues. Good accessibility tools, like SiteImprove, are too expensive for most web teams. Cheaper tools, like accessiBe, do more harm than help.
Edupack lessons around Accessibility inspired a new project called Equalify. Equalify releases tools users expect from accessibility scanners under an Open Source, Affero General Public License. On top of Open Source code, we will build additional tools that simplify content accessibility, hopefully satisfying the needs of Higher Ed pros we spoke with when building Edupack.
Edupack lessons outside of Accessibility will also not go to waste. My web design agency, Decubing, is launching “Managed Campus.” Managed Campus brings no productized requirements to a project. That allows us to adapt to the individual Higher Ed specifications, which prevented us from continuing Edupack.
My career is built around website management. While I will miss the ring of the “Edupack” name, I am confident that my new chapter with Decubing and Equalify is a step toward better website management.