A change in role

Duncan Stephen
Tuesday 19 March 2013

Chocolate chip cookies

This month, I have begun a secondment to Admissions. I will still be working on web projects. But my focus for the next 18 months will be on webpages for Admissions and Corporate Communications.

From my point of view, there are a few different motivations behind the move.

  1. After over three great years working as part of the web team, I felt like it was time to try something new.
  2. The Admissions project will give me the chance to sink my teeth into an important project, which is quite exciting. Being seconded to Admissions will give me the space required to push on without being diverted.
  3. The coffee at St Katharine’s West is nicer.

Progress so far

For the past few months, I have been participating in Lean sessions with a group of staff from Admissions and the wider University community. We were only able to meet for a total of five days spread across roughly as many weeks. Despite the stop-start nature of our meetings, I think the results of them have been very good. Together, we have come up with the foundations of a strong information architecture, and some great ideas on functionality.

Over the years I have been involved in a few different sessions looking at information architecture with different departments. Often, such sessions run into problems. Many people become fixated on their own small sections of the website, at the expense of the bigger picture. Worse still, some try to structure a website based on the structure of the organisation, even if this would be confusing to the user.

Thankfully, the Admissions Lean group has (for the most part) avoided these pitfalls. There is strong agreement within the group that webpages should be user-centred, and that we should avoid imposing University structures or jargon on anyone that doesn’t need to know it.

I have really enjoyed participating in these Lean sessions. They avoid the need to get too bogged down in rigid processes. They also provide the scope and freedom to come up with creative solutions, without too many cheesy appeals for blue sky thinking.

For these reasons, I am excited to be working on the Admissions web project, and optimistic about what we can achieve.

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