Digital communications team successes in 2020

Lewis Wake
Tuesday 19 January 2021

2020 was certainly a year that will go down in the history books. As the world began to operate remotely, digital services became more required than ever.

I think my colleagues will agree that when the first lockdown occurred, it was the busiest the Digital Communications team has ever been.

We accomplished a lot in 2020. With the added challenges of working entirely remotely, I think these success stories should be celebrated.

Here are some highlights throughout the year of what we have achieved.


January 2020

Tommy Oldfield joined the Digital Communications team

At the start of the year, Tommy joined the team as a web developer. He has been responsible for maintaining and updating the University’s web projects and providing support for the University’s websites.

Tommy has been instrumental in improving accessibility across all of the University’s WordPress installations.

A new design for MySaint, Moodle and MMS was launched

MySaint, Moodle and MMS were updated with a new look and feel in January 2020. They are now more accessible and responsive on mobile devices. This update was made by the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) project team, who we were happy to assist.

February 2020

New school website launches

Four new websites were launched as part of BTPO’s Academic Schools Website project:

At that point in the project, this brought the total to 15 new websites out of 24. The remaining websites were scheduled to be completed in June 2020.

First launch of redesigned subject pages

We launched the first batch of redesigned subject pages as part of our work to improve the University’s digital prospectus to better meet users’ needs.

March 2020

The start of the month was like any other for us. Lockdown occurred toward the end of the month.

WordPress multisite audit

We began auditing the WordPress multisite (wp.st-andrews.ac.uk) to remove sites that were no longer needed. We also began auditing WordPress themes and plugins to see if they met Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

This was important work as we had to rationalise themes and plugins to ensure we met the required governmental web accessibility standards by September 2020.

April 2020

Coronavirus information communications

The team was busier than ever in April 2020. Our main efforts were spent working to help the University’s communications related to Covid-19. Since starting working from home, the team has helped create the following resources with expertise and guidance from colleagues across multiple departments.

The team also helped Community Aid St Andrews to enable volunteers to sign up or for people to ask for assistance in the community outwith the University.

Remote working and video calls

The entire world began working from home, and digital communciations became an everyday normality for employees of the University.

We were no stranger to working as a team remotely. We continued to work successfully during the ‘Beast from the East’ snow storm back in 2018.

We helped ITS with communications on adopting Microsoft Teams as the standard for remote working.

May 2020

Cues.ai

Digital Communications worked alongside Admissions to trial a new method of engaging with potential new students.

The cues.ai platform suggests actions for the visitor to perform, such as visiting a web page or submitting a form, based on previous actions they have taken.

You may notice the pop-up ‘cues’ as you browse the subjects web pages of the University website.

See blog post ‘Using cues.ai to inform decision making‘ for further information.

Schools website project

Four new websites launched as part of BTPO’s Academic Schools Website project:

This brought the total to 19 new websites out of 24. The remaining five websites were scheduled to be completed by June 2020.

June 2020

Schools website project was completed

Five new websites were launched as part of BTPO’s Academic Schools Website project:

This brought the two-year Academic Schools Website project to a close.

The project was completed on time, which was a huge achievement for everyone involved – IT Services, the Digital Communications team, BTPO, computing officers, the PURE team, HR, School staff and many more.

July 2020

Dual delivery

The Digital Communications team began helping support the following dual delivery workstreams:

  • 1 – Education readiness: working to redesign the module catalogue. The new catalogue makes it easier to find and view modules on mobile devices.
  • 3 – Digital environment: helping ITS create a mobile app for students. The app allows students to view personalised information such as their timetable and library record.
  • 9 – Student experience: we created a draft survey for students to find out how they use social media. The information allows us to plan the best way to engage with students during Orientation week.
  • 10 – Communications: migrating existing learning and teaching web pages into a new education site for staff and students. This site is hosted in T4v8 and went live on the 21 July. This initial launch was primarily focus on education-related content for staff and includes existing information from the learning and teaching site, as well as information regarding dual mode delivery teaching.

Continued work on WordPress accessibility

The WordPress multisite (wp.st-andrews.ac.uk) at this point hosted about 200 websites, some of which had designs that did not comply with accessibility legislation that would take effect from 23 September 2020.

We continued the process of contacting all site owners to help them to switch their designs to one that was accessible.

Summer degree conferral ceremonies 2020

Between Monday 27 July 2020 and Friday 31 July 2020, nine degree conferral ceremony videos were premiered on the University website. 2020 forced us to work in an extraordinary operating environment, and we had to innovate quickly to deliver the graduation experience in a new way while still sustaining prestige.

These streams were accessible via YouTube and were embedded on one page of the University website.

View the analytics data from our summer 2020 conferral ceremonies on our blog.

August 2020

Goodbye, Maria!

Maria Drummond (previously web content editor and digital data analyst), left the Digital Communications team to join BTPO as a business analyst.

Maria is a digital veteran with four years of stellar service in the field.

September 2020

Mobile app

The new mobile app for students went live. Current students can download this for iOS or Android. The app features personalised information including weekly timetables, module details and exam results.

Students can quickly and easily access useful tools from the app such as the University map, their Library account, and contact details for key student services.

Accessibility

New accessibility regulations came into effect on 23 September 2020.

We have now published an accessibility statement for our main www.st.andrews.ac.uk domain. This gives details about our commitment to make our websites as accessible as possible, while identifying areas of the site that need further development. We are continuing to work to add accessibility statements to our subdomains.

We have successfully switched the majority of our WordPress sites to use designs that meet accessibility standards.

October 2020

Can Do events

In collaboration with colleagues in BTB and the Provost, we created an online guide for Can Do events. The guide is meant to help students set up activities or events while following safety guidance.

You can see a list of upcoming Can Do events in the central events calendar.

Improved search

We improved the website’s internal search feature so that results can be filtered by news and events, which are displayed on separate tabs.

November 2020

T4v8 update

On Thursday 19 November, we updated T4v8 to version 8.3.16. This new version provides a number of bug fixes and minor enhancements.

Improving video accessibility

We rolled out additional changes to the way videos are embedded online.

Using designated content types, YouTube videos on our website use the privacy (no cookie) embed mode and now support transcripts.

All videos must include transcripts to meet legal accessibility standards. You can find out more about how to write a transcript on our caption standards page.

Report and Support

On Thursday 5 November, the Business Transformation Board (through the Report and Support Working Group), launched a new Report and Support tool to help staff, students and the public report complaints or concerns to the University and access support information.

The Digital Communications team conducted paired writing sessions with various members of the Report and Support Working Group to help generate the content for the new tool.

December 2020

Winter degree conferral ceremonies 2020

Between Tuesday 1 December 2020 and Wednesday 2 December 2020, four degree conferral ceremony videos were premiered on the University website.

These ceremonies were similar to the summer ceremonies. We continued to deliver successful video premieres to all those who couldn’t physically graduate in 2020.

These streams were accessible via YouTube and were embedded on one page of the University website.

Team video

We launched a fun video that explains what our responsibilities and services are as Digital Communications.

Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.


2020 was a year unlike any other. Digital became the new normal for a lot of us.

On behalf of the whole team, I can safely say that we have thoroughly enjoyed aiding our colleagues with adopting and further using digital technologies.

Here’s to whatever 2021 brings our way.

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One reply to "Digital communications team successes in 2020"

  • Lauren Sykes
    Lauren Sykes
    Wednesday 20 January 2021, 3.48pm

    Brilliant, guys! Well done!

    Reply

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