So another T44U has been and gone and it was – as ever – full of great ideas and people! That is actually one of the major problems though, with great ideas comes great workload hence the much delayed blog post on this matter.
The topics covered this year was perhaps not as varied as previous years, with the majority of the information being about the core product (SiteManager) and the plans for its development; but thanks to being surrounded by hundreds of like minded ‘webby’ people that did not matter one jot. In fact, best of both worlds.
With the product itself, one of the major improvements that I have been waiting for is almost live – a new form builder. A lot of our users know the pain that we in the Web Team feel when a new form is requested, as the current method of creating one is, well, let’s just say ‘clunky’ and be kind! That will all change though.
The new form builder will feature a full wizard approach to building forms, complete with validation which will mean we can start to deploy forms for our users much quicker! Another set of tools, SM Live will also hopefully be rolled out shortly. This is, in layman’s terms, another way of getting at the data stored in SiteManager in a much more interactive ways (course comparisons for example). This will allow us to do many new creative pages for our visitors, but unfortunately this will not be in the immediate future.
It was also great, at the conference, to hear all the positive comments from other universities in regards to our websites. We (in the institution and Web Team) look at some of our sites (this is excluding old outdated sites of course, I am meaning the ones that we present to the public) and to be honest we are too close to them and maybe do not see them for what they are. However, when myself and Claire were speaking to other HEIs the feedback was high indeed, with some people telling us that they even use our sites as ideas for their own redesigns and as examples of that they want to achieve – I felt embarrassed in some cases.
There was a lot of talk, as expected, about Responsive web design. I gave a talk at this years IWMW with a consultant on our development of our Undergraduate website in respect to this subject (case study information here). It is still surprising how far behind the HE sector seems to be in this subject, in fact we are one of the leaders in this field. And as a result, a full new development to make all of our top level pages responsive has been moved forward as a result of this year’s conference. More information on this will no doubt follow.
I can’t lie and say that is what all work work work. A lot of it was, and even the non-work slots were spent largely talking about work, but thankfully Terminal Four know how to enjoy themselves and they put on a great night in the Guinness Storehouse for all attendees involving a great 80s cover band (I never thought I would utter – or even type – those words!) and what is now becoming a tradition – a great Movember content (I think the winner didn’t quite deserve it this year 🙂 )
All in all, very informative and has left us full of many new ideas!