University blogrolls

New academic staff profiles are here

Posted on: 11 October 2012
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Filed under: Content, Design, Uncategorized

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My last blog post announcing new profiles for 2012 has since been superseded and therefore needs updating.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.

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Team meetings!

Posted on: 7 September 2012
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Filed under: Business, Communication, Uncategorized

What’s the point of a team meeting?

The point for me is to gauge a sense of wellbeing and productivity in the team but also to ensure the smooth running of our operations and that can only happen with communication, so yes we do – in moderation.

When I worked at the BBC, it seemed that everything we did was attached to a meeting; I don’t know how we achieved anything in the normal working day. Working at an agency was different, you really only had a meeting if you required consultation on decisions, they were in the style of the ‘fast and furious’ and I liked that. In Copenhagen we held fortnightly breakfast meetings with coffee and Danish pastries. The company paid and everyone turned up and participated – it worked.

So where do you strike the balance between using a meeting to pass on information ensuring smooth operation and using it to take action?

The Business Efficiency Consultant (do I sense some irony in that title?) Andrew Jensen bases his advice on the need to be efficient down to the time and day you hold the meeting. There’s a lot to be said for that; most people like to get into their day first thing and having a meeting at the start of the day can side track even the most dedicated workaholic. He suggests meeting at 3pm on a Tuesday. I see the logic in the Tuesday; it’s not the start of the week but still the beginning and sets you up for what’s to come but 3pm in the afternoon is not mine and after a temperature check with the team, their preferred time of day to meet. It’s good for coffee and a Danish but not much else and I’m sure is when we are physically and mentally at our most weak and tired point in the day.

It’s here that Mr Jensen and I part good company; I have to have meetings, it’s part of management, communication, interaction all the ethereal things that can smooth the workings of an operation but it only works if everyone else really wants to be there.

Taking a different approach, we’ve all signed up to Google+ and are evangelising the beauty of cross communicating without the need of a meeting or an email. You can send links, screenshots and comment on what’s being viewed by those in your circle. It works because it’s reactionary without interrupting what you are working on, or at least in a non-intrusive manner and you feel like you’ve gained time, not lost it.

Google + didn’t exist all those years ago when I was a student. On my very first day at University, during my first lecture, I walked out. The Professor was trying to cram 800 years of European history into one hour: ridiculous. As a responsible adult, I feel less able to just “walk out”. But if the meeting is not achieving anything then why have it and who has the guts to say so?  In a world of wasteful meetings we are going to adopt the Privy Council model and hold ‘stand up meetings’. Let’s see how it goes, I’m not expecting anyone to walk, a Danish and coffee is optional though.

New staff profile templates for 2012

Posted on: 3 February 2012
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Filed under: Development, Redesign, Research

The recent restructure of the University of Westminster website allowed us to capitalise on the opportunity to restructure, not only the presentation of courses throughout the website but many areas that are indirectly linked.

Staff profiles throughout the University have never had a consistent template. The issue pre-dated the current website and was mainly due to the old website being split into separate schools. The consolidation of those separate websites in 2009 left us with a mixture of staff profile templates in the new website.

It didn’t seem too bad at the time because each school ended up with their own section. Therefore, you would never viewed  a Law professor in the same area as a member of staff in the Business School.

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New information architecture for research

Posted on: 20 December 2011
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Filed under: Design, Programming & Development, Redesign, Research

Most schools manage their research offering differently, which is why we’ve taken a broad view that should appease everyone. Following the website restructure and launch on 31 October, the research centres can now be found in one area.

This is the first step in producing a unique website for every research centre/group. But we must have a uniform approach to how they are structured in the website.

Apart from the differences in terminology between Area/Discipline/Group/Cluster, Centre and Institute, the research that occurs in the University occurs at the ‘Centre’ level.

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Panda in the wild upsetting the herd

Posted on: 7 October 2011
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Filed under: Business, Content, Google, Music, Search, Web Metrics, Writing for the web

Search engines are a funny thing. They are relied upon by millions of users, yet can upset a marketing campaign or even destroy a business with just the slightest change in code.

The biggest player in this market, and you get no prizes for guessing correctly, is Google. But their recent search algorithm update – codename Panda (no, really) is causing a bit of a stir.

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Adobe’s new Muse Edges in on Flash

Posted on: 16 August 2011
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Filed under: Android, Design, Development

The biggest story of last year was the Apple vs Adobe clash concerning Apple’s refusal to support Flash in iOS and therefore the iPad. Adobe responded with a satirical advertising campaign called We [heart] Apple but since then the arguments have died down.

As we all move towards mobile devices including tablets, the need for Flash is beginning to wane. Why should we create Flash websites if we must also create an html version? In addition, why should we create Flash elements for websites if we need to create a static substitute? The introduction of HTML5 and CSS3 with the inclusion of jQuery has also contributed to the demise of Flash.

Arne Bech produced some Flash vs HTML5 advert examples to see if the user could tell the difference between them. View the advert examples here and see if you can.

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Getting to grips with grammar

Posted on: 22 July 2011
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Filed under: Communication, Content, Education, Writing for the web

A recent article on the BBC News website suggested poor spelling could result in reducing online sales by half.

A website owner interviewed said: “Sales figures suggest misspellings put off consumers who could have concerns about a website’s credibility”.

He has a good point but we must not forget that it is not just poor spelling that can let us down.

Grammar and awareness of other factors eg brand names, can have an important effect on how users not only view websites but how these views can spread to other, potential, users.

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Writing for the web

Posted on: 13 July 2011
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Filed under: Communication, Content, Writing for the web

Produce web content that’s relevant

Good web content helps satisfy our visitors’ information needs, drives conversion (from visitor to paying customer) and is search engine optimised (SEO) containing keywords and phrases to enable Google et al to include our web pages in relevant SERPs (search engine results).

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The changing face of Blogg(er)ing

Posted on: 8 July 2011
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Filed under: Blogging, Content, Google, Social Media, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress

So, after 12 years of hard-graft and rapid expansion the blogging site – Blogger, will soon be no-more.

Actually I’m being a bit dramatic as Blogger isn’t going anywhere but it is set to be renamed as part of Google’s recent overhaul of its online products which began with the introduction of Google+ earlier this month.

Why should this matter and what does it mean for the site [co-founded by Evan Williams of Twitter in 1999 and bought by Google in 2003] ranked inside the top ten most visited sites in the world?

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Google Analytics is changing

Posted on: 28 June 2011
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Filed under: Google, Redesign, Web Metrics, YouTube

As we move towards a redesign and restructure of our website, we depend more and more on our website statistics. So it just so happens that when we need these stats the most, Google Analytics (GA) is undertaking a major overhaul of its entire interface.

Many have speculated that Google is ready to enter the high-end enterprise level analytics scene with a package like Omniture. But until then, we will have to make do with the range of features available from GA.

So, what’s new in the updated version of GA. The first answer is that it’s not finished yet, or that’s what it seems at the moment.

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