Digital Marketing & Communications

We've seen 1s and 0s you wouldn't believe

Digital roadmap update for August 2015

📥  Roadmap

Version 12 of our Digital roadmap has been approved by the Digital Steering Group, and looks ahead to August and beyond.

Progress made in July 2015

  • Developed new publishing and design features for the new bath.ac.uk (see fortnightly sprint notes for more details), principally content types and their corresponding templates.
  • Reviewed content audits conducted by departments and organised the sequence by which departments will transition to the new platform.
  • Provided training in content production using agile delivery methods.
  • Upgraded GroupManager, the app that simplifies the management and creation of groups.
  • Updated several databases to Oracle 12.
  • Provided separate staging and production environments for go.bath.ac.uk short URL service.

Priorities planned for August 2015

  • Continue development of the new publishing platform ahead of shipping in early September.
  • Support publishers in uploading and creating new content in the Beta publishing app.
  • Continue integration of Eventbrite into event listings to provide booking management and manage the administration of multiple event organisers.
  • Apply our new visual identity and patterns to site search interfaces.
  • Set up a cross-departmental group to provide editorial coordination of student recruitment content.
  • Supporting the development of an application to enable coordination and triage of events across all university departments.

Format improvements

As trailed in the previous roadmap update, we are beginning to roll out some improvements to its format so that it is easier to understand what is planned, for when and in what priority order.

In the August roadmap, we have:

  • Added a contents page,
  • Included an introduction,
  • Improved the layout and readability of tables.

Further improvements will follow and we'd welcome your suggestions.

Next update

University staff and students can find the detailed version of the Digital roadmap on the wiki.

The next version of the Digital roadmap will be Version 13 and is scheduled for release w/c 27 August.

 

Improving support for lead publishers during transition

📥  Beta, CMS, Communication

Transitioning our content to the new CMS is a lot of work. The early part of the transition in particular involves lead publishers of departments and services across the University reviewing their content, deciding whether to transition it or not, assigning it a content type (like Guide or Project) and giving it an action (like major edit or delete).

With more than 40 Lead Publishers auditing hundreds of inventories, the content team gets a lot of questions.

Pressure on editors

Up until recently, these questions were sent directly to the three Web Editors in the team who are assigned to Lead Publishers as their single point of contact. Individual Editors were the only ones who could see the questions and the only ones who could respond. This threw up a number of issues for all involved:

  • as a team we couldn’t estimate for delivering support in our sprint planning
  • the work wasn’t being captured in any of our boards or planning
  • the increased workloads impacted on the Web Editors’ ability to deliver other sprint work
  • sometimes Lead Publishers weren’t receiving a response for a number of days, which meant that some of them were unable to progress their work.

Our new process

In true agile fashion, we have pivoted and iterated our support process.

Now, our Lead Publishers email all questions to a dedicated email address that the entire content team has access to.

Each morning one of the Web Editors checks the inbox and triages the queries. They then add the questions to a dedicated Trello board, give each a category, evaluate its complexity with points and assign it to one of the team members, with the aim of the Lead Publisher getting a response within a day.

Bringing support into the fold

This is the second sprint in which we have been using the new support process. During that time we have received more than 60 emails to our shared address. This has translated into 35 tasks completed and recorded on our support board.

Being able to record our workload more accurately has been reflected in our sprint velocity and helped in scheduling other sprint work.

This is important as dealing with stakeholder queries is an integral part of our work, one that requires sufficient time and attention and had previously not been accounted for by our scheduling processes.

Sharing the workload

The new process has taken the burden of support work off the shoulders of our Web Editors and allowed other members of the content team to step in.

Work has been spread across the team more evenly, freeing up the Web Editors to progress more of their allocated sprint work, while giving the rest of the team a greater role in support and stakeholder engagement.

Supporting our publishers

Sharing our support process has also resulted in a better experience for our Lead Publishers. If a member of our team has an especially high workload or is out of the office, it no longer impacts on how long it takes for questions to get a response. We can now consistently provide faster support, and that makes the Beta transition process faster and better for everyone involved.

 

Digital team sprint notes, 7 July - 20 July 2015

📥  Communication

What we did

  • Moved office to Level 4 of Wessex House.
  • Wrote a plan detailing how we will transition content to the Beta site.
  • Audited /study/ug and /study/pg.
  • Verified audits for consistency and identified any issues that needed to be fixed by the lead publisher.
  • Held the final Audit and User story boot camps.
  • Storyboarded a video to explain the beta.bath.ac.uk project.
  • Created a cheat sheet on how to use markdown formatting in the publishing application.
  • Added the senior leadership team profiles to the production CMS.
  • Updated the model which explains how publishing works in the new CMS.
  • Implemented the first iteration of “Editions” - authors can now see the differences between a draft and published version of a page.
  • Users can now see which department or service owns a specific page.
  • Upgraded Rails to 4.2.3.

What we will do (22 - 3 August 2015)

  • Continue to verify audits for consistency and feedback to lead publishers.
  • Carry out user research with authors on the new Events content type.
  • Iterate on the content creation boot camp training materials.
  • Organise the final content creation boot camps.
  • Develop the remaining content types, including Announcements, Campaigns, Case Studies and Projects.
  • Design the new homepage and Collection content types.
  • Prepare for the next week's IWMW.
  • Continue to support lead publishers by answering their questions.
  • Continue to provide general communications about the release of the new bath.ac.uk.

If you want to know more about any of work listed on these sprint notes, email web-support@bath.ac.uk

 

We're moving office

📥  Communication

The Digital Marketing & Communications team is relocating from 2 South to the 4th floor of Wessex House (WH4.16) on Monday 20 July 2015.

On Monday we'll be setting up our office so it may take us longer than usual to respond to queries. If you have any urgent issues please email web-support@bath.ac.uk.

Digital team sprint notes, 23 June - 6 July 2015

📥  Sprint notes

What we did

  • Created filterable lists of events on the Beta.
  • Enabled the clearing of old editions of content items.
  • Enabled more granular control of roles and org-based access to content.
  • Iterated the colour palette and optimised typography across the Beta.
  • Continued supporting publishers carrying out content audits (over half way through now).
  • Delivered a pilot of training in content creation using agile methods.
  • Continued auditing content managed by Marketing & Communications.
  • Completed audit of overseas-facing content.
  • Supported 2015 summer graduations through online information, videos and photography.
  • Prepared and coordinated production of online materials to support student induction.
  • Deployed a separate production environment for go.bath.ac.uk.
  • Updated the Group Manager application.
  • Reviewed custom location mapping software and think that we’ll give Mapbox a run out.
  • Updated and distributed v11 of the Digital roadmap following approval from the Digital Steering Group.

What we will do (7 - 20 July 2015)

  • Implement the Guide content type.
  • Display owning and associated departments on content items at front end.
  • Add more roles and permissions to support editorial workflow.
  • Review completed audits and provide feedback and guidance to publishers by way of next steps.
  • Continue to deliver training to publishers.
  • Provide a cheatsheet for publishers using Markdown formatting.
  • Begin uploading content to production version of Beta site.
  • Set up channels and processes to improve our response to transition questions from publishers.
  • Upgrade Oracle databases behind the current CMS.
  • Continue providing general communications about the release of the new bath.ac.uk.
  • Develop new counselling request form with Student Services
  • Set up blogs for a number of departmental teams and research centres.
  • Prepare for our office move to Level 4 of Wessex House.

If you want to know more about any of work listed on these sprint notes, email web-support@bath.ac.uk.

 

A hack day out with FutureLearn

📥  Communication

Last week I had the privilege of visiting FutureLearn in the British Library for their first partner hack day. Although they have run hack days in the past, this is the first time partners have been invited to take part. So, bright and early on Wednesday 24 June, around forty people descended on the FutureLearn offices to spend the day discussing ideas to take learning into the future.

We were mixed into teams of 8 people. Each team was half FutureLearn staff, half partners and the organisers worked hard to make sure each team had at least one designer, developer and writer in it. The FutureLearn folk were lovely and made us very welcome, which created a great environment for sharing and expanding on ideas. Certainly Finola, our group leader, ended up with many pages of notes which I hope will prove useful to her!

After discussing which ideas were relevant to the theme of the day we then chose which ones to pursue. We were looking for ideas which would be step improvements on the existing platform so we sadly discarded all those which started with "Picture a world where..." and came up with a status page for the course administrators and an internal bookmarking feature. Both solve existing problems.

Developing ideas and filling whiteboards

Developing ideas and filling whiteboards

(more…)

 

bath.ac.uk content by the numbers and the next steps

📥  Beta, Development, Style, content and design, Tools

In March, the Digital team set out on an ambitious project to inventory bath.ac.uk.

Our purpose was to learn more about the content we create and the publishers who write it. Gathering this knowledge with a thorough inventory process is something that I have wanted to do ever since I joined Bath in 2011.

This is what we found, how we found it and what our findings mean for how we plan, govern and build better content.
(more…)

 

Deploying Rails applications using Mina and Bamboo

📥  Development, Tools

We use Mina to deploy our Ruby on Rails projects. With our deployment scripts written and packaged into a gem we wanted to make use of our continuous integration server to build and deploy automatically to the production and staging environments.

Our continuous integration server is Bamboo which needed a little configuring to play nicely with Ruby. The packages containing the Ruby binaries were installed on the server and recognised by Bamboo (via auto-detection on the Server Capabilities admin screen) then we added the free Bamboo Ruby Plugin to give us Bundler tasks. This kept the deployment plans easy to understand by avoiding as much as possible the need for manual scripting.

The important tasks for us were "Bundler Install" (obvious what that does) and "Bundler CLI" which let us run our mina deployment commands using the bundler environment with "bundle exec". A bit of messing around with SSH keys and it all works beautifully.

The final setup is:

  • A Bamboo build plan pulls the code from github and makes it available as an artifact (tests are run here)
  • A Bamboo deployment plan takes the artifact, runs "bundle install" to get the code required for deployment then runs the mina tasks to push it to the server

Bamboo allows us to trigger each of these steps automatically so we can deploy a new version of our application just by merging code into the appropriate branch in our repositories. We deploy to both our staging and production environments in this way which makes for a simple workflow, all in Github. The results of the build are sent to us via email and appear in our Slack channel. Bamboo has also let us schedule a rebuild and redeploy of our staging environment on a monthly basis so we will be alerted if a piece of infrastructure has changed and caused our tests to start failing.

 

Digital roadmap update for July 2015

📥  Roadmap

Version 11 of our Digital roadmap has been approved by the Digital Steering Group, and looks ahead to July and beyond.

Progress made in June 2015

  • Delivered CMS content input and output features, and established editorial roles and permissions.
  • Coordinated and tracked content inventory audits across all departments.
  • Provided training in how to conduct a content audit and produce user stories.
  • Assessed candidate software for creating interactive location maps against prioritised user needs.
  • Established the first version of a process by which new corporate social media accounts can be requested, set up and made available to colleagues across the University to support their engagement goals.
  • Produced content marketing plan for 50th Anniversary online channels.

Priorities planned for July 2015

  • Continue development of the new back-end and front-end content type templates and integration of workflow features (see fortnightly sprint notes for more details).
  • Support publishers in uploading and creating new content in the Beta publishing app.
  • Upgrade GroupManager, the app that simplifies the management and creation of groups (for use on the likes of controlling which groups of publishers can create or edit content on behalf of a department).
  • Continue integration of Eventbrite into event listings to provide booking management and manage the administration of multiple event organisers.
  • Apply our new visual identity and patterns to site search interfaces.
  • Set up a cross-departmental group to provide editorial coordination of student recruitment content.

Next update

University staff and students can find the detailed version of the Digital roadmap on the wiki.

The next version of the Digital roadmap will be Version 12 and is scheduled for release w/c 27 July. As it will be marking 12 months of running a Digital roadmap, expect the next roadmap to contain a number of significant updates to our strategy and plans as well as improvements to the roadmap format itself.

 

Improving the international country pages

📥  International, Style, content and design

We provide international applicants with specific information on entry requirements, funding and scholarships, university services for international students, how to contact an agent and forthcoming visits. All of this information is on our country pages.

As part of the development of the Beta site and the University's new International Strategy, we aim to improve the international content across the website. In June, we performed an audit of 51 country pages and discovered that:

  • content did not address specific user needs
  • there was duplicated information that also appeared in the prospectus
  • user journeys were fragmented making it difficult for applicants to find information
  • the layout of the information was not consistent.

As a result, we have made the following immediate improvements:

  • created tailored content to meet specific user needs for each country
  • removed duplicated content
  • updated the entry requirements, scholarships, agents and forthcoming visits information
  • re-ordered and re-named the tabs to improve user journeys.

For the next step, we will continue to monitor the external traffic to these pages and make iterative improvements based on the data.