This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) took place at the University of Kent in Canterbury between 11 and 13 July. It was a great opportunity to meet with others who are involved in higher education web management to learn from case studies and share ideas. The following is a summary of the top five lessons we learnt from a web development point of view.
1. Free up content for multiple outputs
“It’s about content, not websites”
This was one of the memorable quotes from Melanie Reed (University of London) who gave a presentation on making digital change happen. Content is now being accessed on an ever increasing array of devices such as smart TVs, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. This means we need to somehow use our content management systems to deliver content to more that just the university website. It was a point that was also the focus of Richard Prowse’s (University of Bath) talk on building a digital publishing platform. At the University of St Andrews we need to seriously think about how we future proof our content.
2. Improve the digital pattern library
Stratos Filalithis’s (University of Edinburgh) presentation on building a collaborative culture in an institution explained that their pattern library EdGEL provides the rationale behind the patterns they use. Our digital pattern library provides rules about specific patterns, but it does not currently provide instructions on how different patterns could be combined, or why specific patterns have been developed in a particular way.
However, we have written a number of blog posts on why we have developed some patterns in a particular way, for example, where and when should you use a hero banner? Therefore, an idea is to link to relevant blog post articles from patterns in the pattern library.
3. Improve user engagement
Piero Tintori’s (TerminalFour) presentation on five conversion techniques that higher ed can learn from eCommerce gave an insight into how commercial organisations are using data analytic strategies to improve customer conversion. For example, personalisation, predictive analytics and CRM student life-cycle integration. Piero recommended the book ‘You should test that!’ by Chris Goward. This was a book we hadn’t heard of before, but it’s now on our shopping list!
4. Improve search
The masterclass on more than ten blue links by Gordon Grace (Funnelback) focused on the factors you need to think about when providing a good search experience. For example, think about what your users might be searching for at your particular institution and then think about how you could format the information to make it easier to find. Gordon referred to ‘Designing the search experience’ by Tony Russell-Rose as a key source. Another one to add to the reading list!
5. Set standards for meta data
Our service manual covers a lot of different topics, but it was pointed out that it didn’t include standards for meta data. This is something we need to consider if we are going to ensure our content is well structured and easily found.