I have been working for the University since 2005. Prior to that I was a research scientist at Cambridge University studying different biological processes using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Academia wasn't for me, even though scanning strawberries and melons was fascinating! Now I oversee the work of the team and provide support where it is needed, particularly on the web development side of things. I am also an alum of the University, where I studied plant biology.

Understanding how users interact with the alumni and donors website

The new alumni and donors website was launched in June 2017. The new site is a lot slicker and hopefully easier to use than the previous website.

A number of blog posts have been written explaining how Google Tag Manager (GTM) can be used to understand visitor behaviour better. For example, finding out whether users click on a particular link so we can determine if the link needs to be moved to a more prominent position.

This blog post summarises the use of GTM on the alumni and donors website from 15 September to 28 September 2017.

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Content modelling – is it the future?

One of the main lessons from IWMW 2017 was the need to focus on content not websites. It is no longer sufficient to expect users to find information just via the University website as content is being accessed by an ever increasing variety of digital devices and methods.

The following is a summary of how content modelling can be used to understand the structure of the content and the relationships between them so that it can be agnostic of the distribution method.

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IWMW 2017 – top five developer ideas

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.

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Streamlining the migration of courses

We have just completed the migration of over 300 undergraduate and postgraduate courses from TerminalFour (T4) version 7 to version 8. A blog post describes how we automated parts of this migration, but we were still left with a lot of manual tidying up. This article describes how we ensured the final pages were ready for publishing to the new site.
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Migrating content from TerminalFour (T4) version 7 to version 8

We use TerminalFour Site Manager (T4) as our content management system to manage content on the main University website. We are currently migrating content for external facing audiences from version 7 (v7) to the newer version 8 of the software (v8).
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Digital pattern library – continuous improvement

This sprint we have focused on making minor updates to the documentation and HTML code of the digital pattern library, following testing of the site with Sitemorse and feedback from content editors in the digital communications team.  The lessons learned from this will enable future patterns to have a more rigorous approach to quality assurance.

This is what we updated this sprint:

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Digital pattern library – long-form

We have now updated the ‘long-form’ components of our digital pattern library (DPL). The seven long-form components are used to create longer feature articles such as the “Light Box” story. Having the components clearly defined will make it much easier to implement this in T4 or WordPress and make it faster to create new articles.
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T4 meet-up in Edinburgh

TerminalFour (T4), the company responsible for providing our content management system (also called T4), held a meet-up in Edinburgh on Thursday 24 November 2016. In previous years T4 held a two-day T44U conference in Dublin, Ireland. The new format was designed to make it easier for more local groups to get involved.

There were about 30 participants (not including representatives from T4) from the Universities of St Andrews, Abertay, Dundee, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Highlands and Islands, Newcastle, Strathclyde, York, and even the University of St Mark and St John, Plymouth – it was easier for Ian St John to fly from Plymouth to Edinburgh than travel to the alternative meet-up in Manchester!

The aim of the morning session was to give T4 an opportunity to give an update on the product, while in the afternoon to allow customers to share their experiences of the product and to give feedback.

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Digital pattern library – streamlining Bootstrap

The digital pattern library is built upon Bootstrap, an HTML, CSS and JavaScript framework that comes with a large number of components. While everything is possible, not everything is permissible which is why we have been focusing on creating patterns that we do endorse using Bootstrap in our library.

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