What St Andrews web editors do when we’re not writing

This post was inspired by the Scottish Government blog post, What content designers do when they’re not writing.

At St Andrews, web content editors create and maintain content on the University’s externally facing website. Our role is to make it as easy as possible for users to find the information they are looking for.

While a big component of our job is writing content which is concise, scannable, objective, and accessible, we also perform a variety of other functions. Here is just a sample of how we fill our time when we’re not writing.

We analyse our users

  • We develop user stories and personas to understand the wants, needs and limitations of the end-user.
  • We conduct usability testing to understand our users’ thought processes and the roadblocks they face when interacting with the website.
  • We use Google Analytics to obtain metrics such as pageviews, bounce rate, referrals, demographics, etc to better understand our users’ behaviour on the site.

We research

  • We often have to fill the gaps between information readily available to us and user needs. This requires us to research, absorb and translate a lot of new knowledge, from how UK immigration works to the intricacies of tuberculosis.
  • We write long-form stories and case studies about the research taking place across the University and make them accessible to a lay audience. You may often see us with our heads bent down reading scores of articles, journals and papers written by the University’s amazing researchers.

We keep up with requirements and trends

  • We review new guidelines. For example, the Higher Education Funding Council for England created a set of guidelines for providing information for students. In order to keep up with other universities, we made sure our course web pages included the relevant and necessary information the guidelines suggested.
  • We look to the future. New regulations are coming into force requiring public sector websites to meet certain accessibility standards by 2020. We will be reviewing these standards and planning work to make sure our website complies with the new legal requirements.
  • We attend conferences and events to keep up with new digital trends in higher education, for example, the Scottish Web Folk meetings and the Institutional Web Management Workshop.

We share

Digital communications is a field that develops and changes very quickly. We try to help our colleagues within the University apprised of these developments through our:

  • blog
  • newsletter
  • training programmes
  • digital advisory board meetings.

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