I've just received a very nice email from Kate Dow in the Digital Development group regarding my email about the uni website. In summary, the website is a huge project that has been undergoing a 'uniform-ification' (u-nee-form-i-f-i-ka-shon. verb. meaning to make everything uniform) change for the past two years and has involved many different groups, heads of departments and schools. My original email and Kate's response has been forwarded onto these groups and we await their response. There is also the opportunity for usability testing with the end goal of improving the site. Anyone fancy it? i'm sure it could go down as FYP skills for next year or on you're CV. Let me know and I'll forward it on. Below is the full reply:
Firstly many thanks for taking the time to email us. My apologies for not replying immediately, these are obviously important issues and I wanted to be sure of giving you the most complete answer possible. The websites and resources that you refer to are actually looked after by several different departments – my department, Digital Development, looks after the “external”
facing website which is aimed at prospective students, media, the community and many other audiences. The areas for current students are looked after by Student Services, the RISIS team, the Blackboard team, and within Schools and Departments, so I thought it best to forward your email to the relevant parties who will be able to answer the questions for their area.
To give you some background information, the University websites have been through a rebranding and migration project which started over 2 years ago.
The main aims of this project was to give a more uniform look and feel across our websites, migrate the websites into a new Content Management System, restructure the website and review and update the content. As you will be able to appreciate with an institution of this size this project was a large undertaking and involved meetings and consultations with the University Web Information Steering Group, Heads of School and ITS. A combination of workshops, interviews and an online surveys was used to gather feedback and recommendations from a cross section of our audiences, these included prospective and current students, University employees, academics and alumni.
We have received a lot of positive feedback about the sites since the migration project but also accept that it is by no means perfect (and was never expected to be so in this first phase of redevelopment). The websites are and always should be evolving to take into account changes in technology, audiences and information. One of the changes we will be making shortly (which your email backs up) will be looking into ways of signposting the Staff and Student websites more clearly from the home page.
I hope this goes someway towards answering some of your questions, you should receive replies from the other departments shortly. I will be out of the office from the 1st April – 20th April but would welcome the opportunity to talk further once I’m back - perhaps you would consider assisting us with setting up some further userability testing?
Acting Head of Digital Development