T44U – how was it for U?

We’re back in sunny Bradford after a great couple of days in Dublin at the SiteManager user conference AKA T44U.  These events are always incredibly well run and informative and this year’s event was no different.  This year had the best variety of speakers yet and it was good to be part of something that was broader than just ‘here is what is coming up in the new version of the system’.  Digital Engagement seemed to be a common theme and it was also good to see ‘content strategy’ mentioned on several occasions – something you wouldn’t normally expect in a more technically biased conference.

So, was it worth it?  A resounding ‘yes’.

I really appreciated all the speakers that took the time to share their experiences and learnings and this included case studies from Gedling Borough Council (Digital Engagement) and University College Cork (UCC) (migrating sites using the content syncer).  It had taken James from Gedling Borough Council three years to get to T44U and it was well worth the wait!  He showed some simple but effective ways of engaging both internal and external stakeholders using online technologies such as websites and social media.  Maurice from UCC took us through their migration processes showing off some of the tools in SiteManager along the way.

We have been big on ‘responsive’ for some time now, and Paddy delivered a talk and workshop at last year’s IWMW conference on this very subject.  We hope that this inspired some colleagues to explore and adopt responsive design and it looks like Colin Work from Portsmouth Library was one of these people.  He took us through some simple tweaks they made to their site to make it more responsive and usable for students who were accessing the site across a number of different mobile devices.

Day one finished in a blaze of bright blue as Simon Nash from Reading Room took us through the fundamentals and challenges of digital engagement.  This was a great way to get everyone thinking about digital engagement and how our websites are just one part of it.  I’m looking at getting Simon to the University to inspire and inform our web and marketing community, so watch this space!

There then followed the obligatory ‘networking’ (drinks!) and a great time was had by all!

Day two had more case studies from across HE and beyond and we got a company update from TerminalFour.

One of the most inspirational talks I have ever had the pleasure of hearing came from Christopher Murphy.  He shared with us his experiences of the last year or so in terms of mental health and working in the IT arena. A lot of what he said rang really true in terms of our working days starting earlier and finishing later as with new technologies we can be always available. We need to make space to switch off and redress the work/non-work balance, and every now and then learn to say ‘no’.

His talk, and videos of the other sessions, can be found on the T4 YouTube page.

It was a great two days and well worth the hop over the sea to Dublin.

Here’s to next year.


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