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. Continue reading “Working with digicomms: a case study”
On 29 May 2017, the digital communications team sent out content for the 2018 undergraduate course webpages to all Schools for review. Schools have until 7 July 2017 to return any amendments before the pages go live.
We sent the content in Word documents (noting any changes from the 2017 course pages) and have asked Schools to use Track Changes to make any amendments or add comments and queries. We also made sure to update the pages as much as possible based on the 2018 print prospectus, with the aim being to reduce the amount of duplicating editing work required by Schools.
Previously, I wrote about our plan for creating the 2018 undergraduate course pages. We have completed steps 1-5 on this plan by:
- compiling a list of the programmes running in 2018
- creating acceptance criteria for each course page
- creating Word documents of all the 2018 pages
- meeting with Schools which still need to approve course content
- sending all Word documents to Schools.
For step 4, we have already met with the School of Medicine who are currently editing and providing additional content for the undergraduate Medicine course pages. We are also currently in the process of building draft pages for the Computer Science and Physics pages; once these are created, we will arrange meetings with the Schools of Computer Science and Physics and Astronomy to demonstrate these pages, make any amendments as required, and get sign-off for 2018.
One of the most notable differences between the 2017 and 2018 pages is the addition of new information based on the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) guide to providing information to prospectus undergraduate students. We have marked where this new information appears on the Word documents for each course page. New information includes:
- course start and end dates
- language requirements
- a link to more information about alternative entry routes
- timetable information
- how many additional subjects students can take
- the University’s flexible modular degree system
- independent learning
- teachers, tutors and staff
- academic support available
- disabilities support available
- grade scale system
- feedback on assessments.
Now that the undergraduate course pages have been sent out to Schools for amendments, we will begin building the pages in the new version of our content management system, T4v8. As Schools return their edits, we will make the necessary changes to the course pages.
After the 7 July deadline, we will conduct a final check on all of the pages to fix any typos, broken links or other errors. We aim to launch all of the undergraduate 2018 course pages by the end of July, at which time we will archive the 2017 pages.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the 2017-entry undergraduate course webpages only just completed, the thought of creating 2018-entry pages may make you cringe, bare your teeth, or just run away in horror. But don’t worry! The content team has developed a solid plan for creating and publishing the 2018 pages which aims to minimise the amount of work required from content coordinators. Continue reading “The plan for 2018-entry undergraduate course pages”
The digital communications team has officially launched a programme of training sessions known as the digital visa. The digital visa will provide essential training in digital communications topics to anyone who works on the University’s website or with the digital communications team.
The visa enables staff to feel competent and confident working on digital communications projects, and provides new skills in a range of digital areas.
Participants who sign up and complete the five compulsory training sessions from the digital visa will become trusted digital advocates, and will be one of the first points of contact between their department and the digital communications team.
We’ve been working on building the digital visa for a while (see our original plan for the visa). Now, we have finalised the following five compulsory sessions:
- Digital communications at St Andrews
Introduces you to the digital communications team at St Andrews and the support we provide for staff at the University.
- Digital pattern library
Allows you to correctly use patterns from the digital pattern library (DPL) in a content management system.
- Social media: the basics
Allows you to confidently develop a basic social media strategy.
- Google Analytics
Trains each participant to measure the performance of their website and understand their users’ behaviour by creating a dashboard in Google Analytics.
- Writing for the web
Allows you to identify and implement user needs in web writing and design.
These sessions can be taken in any order, and they will run regularly throughout the year. To sign up for the digital visa programme, please email Jennifer Hamrick (me), digital trainer, at email@example.com. Those signed up will receive emails alerting them to when the next training session will run.
You can also sign up for any of these courses individually via PDMS. If you later decide to enroll on the digital visa programme, the courses you’ve already taken will be counted towards your visa.
We are currently working on developing optional courses that participants can take as part of the programme. These may include:
- Advanced writing for the web
- WordPress for content contributors
- WordPress for administrators
- Social media for research dissemination
- Build your own website
- User personas and journeys
- Screen casting
- Usability testing
- CSS and code languages
- Digital rights and legalities.
If you would like to training provided within your department, please contact Jennifer Hamrick about setting up specialised courses for your group.
We are also opening some of the courses to PhD students, where relevant.
If you have any questions, please email Jennifer Hamrick, digital trainer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shortly before the digital prospectus went live, the content team in digital communications sat down and came up with a list of development, design and content improvements we would like to make to the pages in the future.
We prioritised this list and organised it by timeframe (before launch, after launch, and after migration to T4v8).
Some of the improvements were completed before launch, such as standardising the way we write addresses on all pages, or rewriting module caveats to make information clearer.
One of the bigger pieces we completed before launch was to provide keyword matching for undergraduate course pages in order to improve our course search tool. However, our keyword matching could still be improved! We created a keyword spreadsheet and sent this out to all Schools to provide us with any keywords they felt should be attached to a particular programme. We are able to add both positive keywords (words associated with a course) and negative keywords (words we don’t want associated with a course – for instance, ‘physics’ with ‘Metaphysics’).
We have already been able to use tracking analytics on the course search tool to see what users have been searching for. For example, we have had a few instances of searches for ‘midwifery’ so far! This data will be very useful in determining how we should market particular courses, or whether a new programme might need to be created to meet a gap in the market.
If you would like to add keywords to a programme, please email email@example.com.
Some improvements require time from our development team, who are currently busy working on the digital pattern library project. When they are finished with their project, we hope that some of these improvements can be made, including moving the year of entry to the same line as the degree title.
Other improvements we can make now include hard-coding more content, or breaking hard codes where we have found we need more flexibility, such as the ‘Student life’ section on the undergraduate course pages.
After migration to T4v8
For many of the improvements, we are waiting until we migrate to the new version of our content management system, T4v8. Once we have migrated, we will work on a number of design improvements, such as creating a new design for the ‘research centres’ section on subject pages which will make it easier to read and require less scrolling.
We are also aware of the need to continue engaging with stakeholders outside of our team in order to create new pages, such as the Gateway programme pages.
We are happy to hear from colleagues who have constructive criticism or other ideas for how we can improve the digital prospectus. To do so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frontloading is a writing technique in which the most important, “big-picture” information is provided first, followed by additional details. This post covers how to successfully frontload content to make it easier for online users to understand and scan your writing. Continue reading “Web writing basics: frontloading”
Track Changes is a tool in Microsoft Word which allows you to show any markups, changes or comments made to a document.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to use Track Changes to edit Word documents, and how to accept or reject those changes as a reviewer.
The digital communications team is almost finished with our undergraduate digital prospectus project. The main purpose of the digital prospectus is to provide more detailed, tailored and targeted information about each UG course than our current tool, Course Search, provides.
Here are the reasons we think the new digital prospectus will be an improvement on Course Search: Continue reading “How the UG digital prospectus is an improvement on Course Search”
The digital communications team has been hard at work creating, developing and designing the academic subject pages (phase 3 of our digital prospectus business case) and the undergraduate course pages. The subject page system is being built to replace course search (developed by IT Services), which as many of our colleagues have agreed, is not meeting the needs of our users.
To give you a better idea of how University website users will be able to navigate to undergraduate course pages from the subject pages, here is a sneak peek into what we have developed so far. Continue reading “A sneak peek at the undergraduate course pages”