New academic staff profiles are here
After months of hard work, and an unexpected redesign project midway through the task, the new staff profiles will be rolled out throughout the website next week.
My last blog post announcing new profiles for 2012 has since been superseded and therefore needs updating.
The redesign project that’s been in process for the last six months has had knock on affects that have benefitted the staff profile project.
Just to recap, the brief was:
- Create a consistent template for all academic staff profiles throughout the University
- Dynamically feed publications from WestminsterResearch
The new design utilises many aspects of our new framework including:
- Consistently sized images
- Links to related schools, departments and research centres
- Tabbed navigation for the narrative
- Social networking links
- Related links
The main difference between these and the old profiles is that every item on the page is controlled by metadata. For example, a staff member’s phone number is entered as metadata. The School that someone is part of is a tick box in the metadata.
This allows us to query the data and dynamically list staff info in many different areas throughout the website. For example, our typical academic staff directory list is a simple query lookup of every staff member and it dynamically lists their name, school, department, telephone number and email address.
Conversely, if we want to drill down to particular schools or departments, we can list these without writing a single line of code. Everything references the source data attributed to the profile.
If a staff member’s telephone number is updated, we only have to do that on the profile page. It will change every instance of that telephone number throughout the website.
This is a huge step forward for the Westminster website but every system is only as good as the data that’s in there. We are now bound to the data that’s provided to us.
Another huge step forward is to feed in a staff member’s publications dynamically from WestminsterResearch, our online research repository. This will reduce the workload on a staff member because they only have to update their publications in one area.
Although one bit of feedback we’ve had so far is that the publications are listed by the date they were posted in WestminsterResearch and not by date of publication. This will need to be revisited but the important development here is that all publications will be automated and connected properly.
Following this achievement, we can tweak the data source, tweak the layout and it can be applied to all 800+ profiles at once instead of one-by-one changes that have been completed to date.