Working with digicomms: a case study

When it comes to the digital prospectus, the proofing process is fairly simple for most Schools and Departments: digital communications sends an email containing webpage content in a standardised template; the School then edits the content and emails it back to us.

However, sometimes this standardised process is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Sometimes, programmes are too complicated for our template – whether that’s because they have unusual entry requirements, a different module structure, or something else. Or sometimes a School’s internal procedures don’t match up with our proofing process – for example, they have a number of colleagues who much be consulted about the webpages rather than just the one coordinator to whom we send the content.

In more complicated cases such as these, we will hold a meeting (or even series of meetings) to clarify our aims and objectives, provide a demonstration of the webpages, discuss any rising concerns, and agree on a course of action that suits both parties.

Such was the case with the School of Medicine. When we launched the undergraduate digital prospectus for 2017 entry in February, it was too close to the end of Medicine’s application cycle for us to publish the 2017 undergraduate Medicine pages. We therefore decided to wait to publish the Medicine undergraduate course pages for the 2018-entry digital prospectus.

We quickly became aware, however, that we lacked considerable insider knowledge needed to create the Medicine UG course pages due to Medicine’s unique application system, degree routes, and entry requirements. Luckily, our colleagues in the School of Medicine were willing to help us out.

We met with chosen representatives (including administrators and programme managers). Our preliminary meeting outlined specific problematic areas and highlighted the need for a bespoke approach to the Medicine course webpages. We also discussed the new ScotGEM programme and how information for this, which was undergoing review at the time, would be communicated to us as it was approved.

This meeting was also beneficial because we were able to demonstrate the webpages and discuss the different sections and page layouts. We were also able to clearly explain the University’s goals around standardising course information and adhering to consumer protection legislation.

From this meeting, our Medicine colleagues were able to quickly come up with a communication strategy in which information would pass (for the most part) between one content editor in digital communications and one content coordinator in Medicine. This helped make communications simple and easy because it meant there wasn’t any conflicting or duplicating information, or content being sent to us which hadn’t been approved by the correct coordinators.

Since our initial meeting, we have met with Medicine two more times. Each meeting has generated specific outcomes and objectives, and we are moving closer to being able to publish the undergraduate Medicine course information for 2018 entry.

The School of Medicine serves as a great example of how other departments and units across the University can work with us to overcome challenges such as how best to publish complicated information on the website in a clear and concise manner, and in a way that is consistent with other University webpages. It also demonstrates that we at digital communications are aware that our standardised approach may not always be the best solution in every scenario, and we rely on colleagues to bring any issues up with us. Then, we can set up a meeting and work through how to meet the aims and goals of both digital communications and your department or team.

If you would like to set up a meeting with digital communications, please email digitalcommunications@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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