The Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) took place at Liverpool John Moore University between 21 and 23 June 2016. In the words of the IWMW website (www.iwmw.org):
The annual 3-day event provides opportunities for those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and related digital channels to learn from case studies, hear about innovative approaches and share and discuss challenges in managing institutional web services.
The event attracts core members of institutional Web teams such as developers, designers, content creators and managers. This year the event will also seek to attract policy makers and senior managers with responsibilities for facilitating organisational change.
This year was the 20th anniversary of IWMW. There were 139 delegates from around the UK. The theme was: understanding users, managing change, delivering services.
The following are a few of my highlights.
How Lean UX can help you develop better products – Neil Allison, University of Edinburgh
This talk was based around the book Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf.
It’s well established that what people say and what they do aren’t the same. We typically think that what we want is more power and more features, when really we appreciate simplicity and efficiency. Lean UX enables you to look for ways to observe user behaviour cheaply and easily so you can learn what they really need as quickly as possible and decide if an idea is worth investing time and effort in developing. It centres on the following hypothesis:
We believe this [business outcome] will be achieved if [these users] successfully [attain this user outcome] with [this feature].
The focus is on what the feature can do for the business and or user. It basically means we shouldn’t build things that people don’t want.
Neil gave an example of a survey they carried out to find out what features their users wanted to improve searching the University of Edinburgh‘s website. One of the top answers was an advanced search feature. Before investing the time in building this feature, Neil’s team decided to test if users really wanted advanced search by adding a link called ‘advanced search’ on the search results page that led to a page that asked them to complete a short survey. They modified the search results page at different times and for the duration of the survey, only 97 out of 35,097 views clicked on advanced search. It was clear that there was a discrepancy between what people said and what they did.
So instead of building advanced search functionality they decided to focus effort in other areas such as a responsive design for the search results. They prioritised learning over delivery to build evidence for their decisions.
Building a new university website – an Agile content case study – Rich Prowse, University of Bath
Rich Prowse is Head of Content at the University of Bath. They have over 500,000 content items in two different content management systems. He gave a presentation on how they have used Agile principles to deliver a single, unified digital platform.
Rich described how his team have developed the following digital delivery principles:
- Put user’s needs first;
- Make decisions based on data;
- Release iteratively and often;
- Keep things simple and consistent;
- Work in the open.
The outcomes are:
- A website that is easier to navigate and find information;
- Content that is relevant and useful;
- Quicker for visitors to complete tasks;
- Built a publishing community;
- Shared standards and structure;
- Delivered a sustainable website.
Rich described how it important it was to have an Agile mindset as well as an Agile approach to content design and development. It is thinking about how you think about your approach to things and the way that you deal with delivery and how you deal with the day to day issues. Without this, having processes and tools won’t mean anything. An Agile mindset is:
- Staying focused on what’s important;
- Learning through doing;
- Listening to others;
- Keeping themselves and others honest;
- Seeing failure as an opportunity.
The Agile approach used by Bath are principles that we also aspire to. It was interesting to see how they are using this successfully. For more information see a video of Rich’s talk.
The Google Analytics of things – Martin Hawksey, Association for Learning Technology (ALT)
This presentation gave a very useful insight into how Google analytics is now being used to track how users interact with different devices as well as web pages. It is no longer about the number of page views to a web page, it is about how understanding user behaviour by tracking events such as clicking on a button or completing a payment. One of the main ways to do this is via Google Tag Manager, which allows you to embed code within a web page or device to track different events.
- Measure how long a user spent on a page after arriving from Google search and then went back to searching;
- Measure number of words read on a page as a price to find out how much of a page has been read;
- Combine data from different sources such as Twitter and page views to get a more complete understanding of how people are referring to your content;
- Automate reports;
- Create dashboards giving a summary of key statistics about how web pages are being viewed.
For further details see Google Analytics of Things on Lanyard.
It’s time to get personal – Piero Tintori, TerminalFour
Piero Tintori the CEO of TerminalFour gave a thought-provoking presentation on whether personalisation could be an effective way to target content at specific users. He said that commercial companies are using a variety of techniques to do this and that worked well was:
- Personalised content depending on where you live;
- Personalised content depending on patterns of behaviour;
- Purchase history;
- Email marketing linked personalisation;
- Re-targeting (modifying adverts depending on prior selection by the user e.g. show engineering stories for engineer students).
An example of a commercial company doing this is Aer Lingus, who change the selection of flight choices based on your location.
Within higher education, personalisation is relatively new. Swinburne University in Australia implemented personalised content based on your location. This resulted in a 32% increase in undergraduate enquiries within 14 days.
These are just a few highlights from IWMW 2016. For a full list of talks and links to more videos see the IWMW 2016 timetable.