A couple of weeks ago we had the Spring Edition of our Web Community events here at Bradford. There was a lively bunch, as usual, all willing to listen and share their experiences about their role in developing and maintaining the University’s web presence
The Web Team started in the usual way with an update of recent activities.
Web Team Update
- Paddy talked about our recent CMS database migration from Oracle to MySQL, which resulted in some CMS downtime, but also the ability to add Chinese Characters to our websites, which resulted in . . .
- Katie unveiled our new China website – set to serve the Chinese market, especially parents. This has been a great collaboration with Monica from our China office, who worked on the translation of the content and will be maintaining the website in conjunction with Katie
- We touched on our plans to move to Version 8 of TerminalFour but we’re holding off until the release is a little more stable
- Following on from the intro at the last event we updated colleagues on our developments with course information online, including our forthcoming ‘live chat sticky’ and the new ‘calls to action’ buttons that are associated with different categories of subject/course
- We’re already planning for Enrolment 2016 and are planning in changes to the New Students website and also the way we publish induction and academic timetables for students as well as Programme Handbooks. These are big developments this year and we are working closely with the Academic Quality and Partnerships Office as well as the Timetabling and Attendance Office
- Anna from the Web Team has done some great updates to how our News is presented online, and has worked with the Communications Team to update their structure and how to archive their news so that it is much more future-proof.
- Anna has also created a new content type to better display uploaded files with a thumbnail next to it. This can be seen in all its glory on the newly redeveloped News and Views website, Editions section
- We’re working on new website for our Disability Service, Counselling Service, and Career and Employability Services. They are the stragglers in our ‘updating old branding’ project (through no fault of their own!) and its worked out rather well that we are doing them all at the same time. We’ve enjoyed working with the teams so far and are grateful of their enthusiasm and energy to get the new sites developed and live for the new academic year
- Katie showcased the new international student profiles which have been spruced up and embedded in context in the various country pages that we have within our international website. These are a great resource for colleagues to link to from their websites and also use across other channels
- I then waxed lyrical about the forthcoming IWMW conference, which I think that everyone should go to! It will be 20 years old this year and has been a key point in the year for anyone in HE involved in the web, and more recently ‘digital’, and has been a breeding ground for new innovations, sharing of ideas and knowledge, being a ‘critical friend’ to others and generally having a great time with like-minded people. I was a member of the Advisory Group last year and Paddy has joined us this year and it is all coming together nicely. I have also written a guest blog post about the event to inspire and encourage others to come along – do sign up!
The Web Team finally sat down and shut up (for a bit) and we handed over to colleagues with whom we had worked recently on either brand new sites or redevelopments.
Show and Tell
First up was Mandy Simmons who talked us through the new site for Research Students. The site is there to support our current research students and also inform prospective research students how we can support them when they join us. The pages go through the journey of before students come here, whilst they are here and how we can support their progression. Nice one Mandy!
Emma Sibson then presented the new Visa Support website, which she developed alongside colleagues in the Visa Support Team, including Joanne Jordan. This was a mammoth task, not least due to the ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding Visas that come from government. Again, with the user in mind, the content was ordered around where visitors to the site were in the student journey, and also includes information for staff so that they can support prospective and current students. The site is largely driven by FAQs and these are added to as new or different queries come into the team. Well done all!
Both Teams are now monitoring their queries to see if the website has had an impact on the number of queries coming in e.g. by email, phone or in person.
Lastly, but by no means leastly, Sam Butterworth talked us through the Bradford Excellence Programme website which is a monster of an internally-focussed website for staff here at the University. Due to other projects, the Web Team weren’t able to fully build and develop the site for Sam, but Sam has the advantage of sitting in the same room as us and so we ‘taught a man to fish/use the CMS’ and the results are great! Sam has made great use of the different layout templates to get the vast amount of information across in a bite-sized way and continues to update the site as the Programme progresses. Sam was an inspiration to others about getting stuck into learning a new skill – all under the guiding wings of the Web Team. Go Sam!
It was great to see that everyone was thinking ‘user first’ and had used the techniques we had workshopped in previous sessions and were all working together, in their teams, to think about what their users wanted and needed, as well as getting user input throughout the process.
We had two special guests this time.
First up, John Fairhall from the University’s Mobile Team talked to us about the exciting plans to roll out a network of iBeacons across campus as part of the University’s Campus WiFi Project. We all then got stuck in collectively generating use-cases for the Beacons – of which there were many! Marketing have already collaborated with the Mobile Team and a final year student from Informatics over the use of iBeacons at recruitment events such as Open Days, so its great to see the Beacon technology being implemented across the campus.
Then Kate Green from the Comms Team popped in to (re)introduce everyone to our image library, Asset Bank, and also explain the procedure for adding new images to the image library or requesting new assets such as photos or videos. There’s lots to see on out YouTube channel so check it out!
Thanks both – much appreciated.
We managed to run out of time, as ever, but just about squeezed in a few top tips at the end about using section links, not over-using bit.ly links, linking to content from banners and setting archive sections to have expiry dates. All top tips, for sure.
Another great event – thanks to everyone for coming and we’ll see you all in May!
- Here’s the Sway that the Web Team used