Love of the Game
Krannert website wizard Kris Knotts plays to win
Kris Knotts likes to play games. No, not the kind you read about in some Mars/Venus relationship book, but actual, physical board games (or their digital equivalents).
Kris Knotts applied his gaming skills in thinking and strategy to his studies in the Weekend MBA program. (Photo by Mark Simons)
“I probably have over 150 board games,” he says. “Trying to choose a favorite is difficult.”
And these aren’t the Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders variety, either. Knotts loves games that involve strategy and team building, where he can use his skills — not the luck of the dice — to gain advantage.
So what does playing games have to do with Knotts’ job as Krannert’s web development and marketing analytics director? As it turns out, plenty.
Knotts sees gamification — the concept of using game thinking and strategy in nongame contexts — as integral to creative and effective people management and problem solving at his job.
“I had an elective class on gamification in my Weekend MBA program, and that idea of taking games into the boardroom is perfect for me,” he says. “I was able to take that concept and apply it immediately. I love the idea of having fun while solving problems.”
And Knotts has had to solve a lot of challenges in his tenure at Purdue. He started out as a web and technical specialist in Purdue Marketing Communications, then moved over to Krannert in 2007. Knotts currently leads a team of three on the web team at Krannert. That includes a writer and a graphic/video specialist.
Knotts is the site’s chief programmer and oversees Krannert’s website strategy and presence, which has only grown in importance over the years Knotts has been on the job.
“When I started, we came to the realization that the website is doing as much or more than all of the written material we produce,” he says. “When it comes to recruiting students, many times the website is our first touch point.”
His mission when he came to Krannert was to improve the website so that the content and design was accurate, fresh, interesting, interactive and relevant, especially to prospective students. Since he’s been on the job, the site has undergone about a half-dozen redesigns, and it was one of the first responsive websites at Purdue.
Knotts says constantly reevaluating the school's web presence involves feedback from the Krannert and wider Purdue communities. He has come to the conclusion that a website should be redesigned as many times as needed, even though he admits that “we’ve created a challenge for ourselves.”
As easy as 1, 2 …
Developing and maintaining quality websites can be a struggle to a lot of departments and organizations — both inside and outside Purdue — but Knotts says the fine details and bells and whistles are much less important than two main necessities.
“First, you shouldn’t really think of it as a website. Everything is based on good content,” he says. “Second, get involved with your web community. Purdue has user groups for content, and I lead a user group on Cascade (a content management system). Get involved so you have a network of people in the same boat as you. This is especially important for people in charge of websites that don’t have technical expertise in content or websites.”
Knotts is considered one of Purdue’s foremost experts on creating responsive website designs and in ensuring that websites are accessible for those with vision or hearing impairments. He is a member of Purdue’s Web Accessibility Committee and a 2011 recipient of the Focus Award, given to those at Purdue who make outstanding contributions to furthering the University's commitment to disability accessibility and diversity.