If you are on campus, you can read about the latest Content Publisher changes as and when they happen at http://go.bath.ac.uk/beta-release-notes
What we've delivered
- Allowed admins to set up labels in the Content Publisher
- Finished some discovery work on how we can improve our styling for headings
- Made caching more selective, so you no longer have to refresh certain pages to get the latest version (like the staff landing page or noticeboard)
- Fixed several bugs for padding and spacing
- Fixed a font size bug that was causing issues for landing pages in Safari
- Continued working on our induction content for new students
- Continued working on our next iteration of Worldwide
- Published the first transitioned RIS pages
What we're going to deliver
- Report on user research we did at the June Open Days
- Redesign the header for smartphones so more content is initially visible
- Allow admins to associate content items to labels
- Implement collections in the Content Publisher
- Implement lists of collections
- Continue work on induction
- Continue work on Worldwide
If you are on campus, you can read about the latest Content Publisher changes as and when they happen on http://go.bath.ac.uk/beta-release-notes
What we've delivered
- Organisations can pin content from associated groups to their landing page
- Publishers can now choose from a list of content types to show in the 'About us' section on a Landing Page
- There is now a new 'Academic profile' subtype of Person Profile
- Page number navigation boxes in our content lists have a larger area you can click/touch on
- More content is initially visible when you look at the pages on small-screen devices
- Added new 'procedure' and 'speech' subtypes to Corporate Information pages
- Content items now display the subtype name instead of the type in the summary information (except for Guides)
- Locations now have a link to get directions via Google maps (if latitude and longitude have been provided)
- Completed our Person Profile testing with the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science
- Carried out some detailed discovery on our heading sizes and how and where they're used so that we can make improvements
- The Admissions and Outreach section is now live
- The Widening Participation section is now live
- The award ceremonies section is now live
What we're going to deliver
- Content Publisher administrators can add Topics
- Publishers will be able to associate Content Items to Topics
- Publisher administrators will be able to create and manage Collection pages
- Site visitors will be able to filter lists of content by subtype
- People using small-screen devices to visit the site will see (even more) content without needing to swipe up
- Content for the next iteration of Worldwide, focusing on our connections with Brazil
- Prepare to launch the Induction section for new students starting in September
- Continue supporting transition for Research Innovation Services, Computing Services and Security
Guard in action
Got your feedback loop between writing code and executing tests down to the shortest time possible? Of course you have. After all, you know your tried-and-tested shortcut keys.
But there may be something better than your years-old habit.
Just run Guard
Guard will watch your code for changes. When it detects one, it'll fire up your tests for you in the background. Sounds pretty useful, right?
With Guard on its own, you'd still have to
Tab to your terminal to see the test results.
But Guard also supports plugins to send out notifications. The one I use for my MacBook is terminal-notifier-guard, but there are a bunch of others you could use for your platform.
The advantage to using a desktop notification, as opposed to having your terminal window, is that you can keep your editor at fullscreen. Even better, you can be looking at something else entirely but still see when your tests have finished. This is great for when your tests take a non-trivial amount of time.
It's as simple as adding this to your Gemfile:
group :development do
In our case above, we've added the minitest-reporters and guard-minitest gems.
Then follow the README for Guard on how to initialise and install Guard.
Small savings add up
It might seem very tiny, but the amount of thinking required to remember your key combos and execute them through your keyboard is actually valuable brain power you could be applying to writing code instead. And if you are frequently running tests, these savings add to up to an even greater amount.
Ben Orenstein said in his talk at Bath Ruby 2015 to try and run your tests from within your code editor. He did so in Vim in his talk. Guard is just a step on from that.
I've also started using the guard-livereload gem recently. Using this with the LiveReload browser plugin, any changes made to a view will refresh my browser automatically and show me the changes immediately. Super useful.
It's time for Sprint notes! This sprint we lost a day due to the bank holiday, but we still packed in plenty.
Without any more unnecessary words, here we go:
What we've delivered in the last two weeks
- In-page navigation menu on detailed guides. This will help our users easily see and find information on the page.
- Many minor (but important) changes to the layout of the Person profile, based on user testing at the University of Bristol and with our own Engineering and School of Management academics. Some of these changes include:
- Reordering the information on the page to better suit the audience
- Renaming "Enquiries" to 'Contacts'
- The content team worked with the Computing Services transition team to write:
- 13 guides
- 6 service starts
- 2 locations
- 1 corporate information
- Started the discovery and planning for Worldwide's take over to Brazil
- Met with colleagues around the University to plan out a Postgraduate Research user journey and user stories
What we plan to do in the next two weeks
- Guest Accommodation collection page
- Allow organisations to pin content from associated groups to their landing page
- Transition Admissions and Outreach and Widening Participation content
- Wrap up the RIS, Computer Services and Security transitions
- Continue working on Worldwide's Brazil project
We have recently launched Worldwide on bath.ac.uk.
It is a new central hub to curate international content across the website and will focus on a specific country or region. This is to support the implementation of the University’s International Strategy.
For the first edition, the page aggregates relevant content items to showcase the University’s activities and impact in South Africa. The goal is to send out clear messages about how our work in South Africa provides solutions to global environmental and social challenges, empowers future higher education leaders and develops top athletes of tomorrow.
First of its kind
This is the first time we have experimented to present the University's internationalisation by:
- featuring stories with a content marketing approach, focusing on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to target clearly-defined users
- using featured content to showcase the University's impact in various fields - from research to student experience to sports
- producing content on the University’s overseas activities with coordination between faculties and professional services
- using the Collection content type in the new CMS to curate content items
- intensively promoting content on social media targeting specific user groups during the post-launch period
We learn as we go
There has been so much to learn throughout the entire process of delivering Worldwide, from content creation to curation. We will continue working in an agile way and embracing a culture of constantly learning and iterating through each round of producing Worldwide.
Last week we said goodbye to our Digital Supporter, Chris Shimmin-Vincent, who has joined our colleagues in Computing Services as their new Service Manager for IT Literacy. Good luck Chris!
For the next two months we have a temporary Digital Supporter, Richard Massey, helping us out until we appoint a permanent replacement.
We missed our last couple of Sprint Note slots due to illness, so let's see what we've been missing:
New Content Publisher (CMS) features
- Standardised the 'featured image' section across all relevant content types and ensured it always requires a caption
- When editing a Landing Page, allow editors to pin content items associated with the Organisation or Group
- When editing an Organisation's Landing page, allow editors to choose content items that are owned by or associated with Groups that are part of the Organisation
- Allow editors to choose from a list of content types to populate the 'About' section of a Landing Page
- Clicking on a Call to Action link is now recorded in Google Analytics as an Event
- Increased the spacing above the 'supervisor availability' section on Person Profiles
- Simplified the display of audience information on Events
- Improved the spacing between pinned items on Landing Pages to clarify which item a label belongs to
- No longer displays pagination on filtered lists if there is only page of items
- Event date and location information is now visible in Event lists
- When describing the status of a Project we've changed the term 'Active' to 'In progress'
- Show in-page navigation for Detailed Guides
- Iteration of the layout of the Person Profile template based on test results
Course Publisher (Prospectus)
- Moved our Alpha to our common infrastructure in preparation for Beta
- Created a full, responsive Course page in HTML
- Add editing forms to the application so we can begin testing
- Generate a Course page from editor input
- Testing of the Person Profile template with the Faculty of Engineering and Design
- Benchmarking the Event, Guide, Project and Campaign content types in the faculties of Science and Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
- Testing of Person Profiles with the faculties of Science, HSS and the School of Management
- Preparing a test on the Case Study content type
New sections published
We now have 284 items live on www.bath.ac.uk which are managed with the new CMS.
This was an important sprint for us, as the first sections to be published with the new CMS went live.
Our intention now is to continue delivering sections with the new CMS on a regular basis, and we will use our fortnightly sprint notes to highlight these.
What we've delivered in the last two weeks
- The text colour of the supervisor availability information in Academic Profiles was changed to make it easier to read
- Changing the status of a Content Item from Published to Draft no longer makes it disappear from filtered lists
- We made a number of backend changes to ensure everything is working smoothly from www.bath.ac.uk as well as beta.bath.ac.uk
- We improved the tool which makes sure that all the old web addresses for a section which has moved to the new CMS redirect to the correct location
- The Guide for using images on the website has been updated to recommend new image size and ratios to make it easier for editors to find and create new images
- Caching is now enabled across all of www.bath.ac.uk to reduce the amount of time it takes to load pages
- We've produced the first piece of standardised documentation on the visual components which makes up the new site templates
- We carried out an A/B test with academics at the University of Bristol to help us identify improvements to the layout of our Person Profile items - we're very grateful to our colleagues there for helping us out!
- The use of colour in the editing screens is now more consistent
- Filtered lists are now always updated correctly when the title of a content item (and its URL) is changed
- We changed our configuration of Archive It so that it no longer automatically retrieves page outside of the www.bath.ac.uk domain
- We held a user story planning session with members of the Student Recruitment Editorial Group to help support creating a content marketing plan
What we're going to do in the next two weeks
- Produce the second alpha of a new tool for publishing University courses to the website - Course Publisher
- Publish the new Digital Marketing & Communications and Student Services sections
- Start working with Research & Innovation Services to transition their section to the new CMS
- Continue work with Marketing and Communications to transition their content
- Fix a number of small inconsistencies and problems across both www.bath.ac.uk and the CMS
Today we published a number of sections on the new Bath website. These pages appear in our new designs, managed by our new CMS and they have been produced using our new approach to content design.
The sections are:
Congratulations and thank you to the department involved and the Lead Publisher Steve Milnes. It’s been hard work but the benefits to the end users are clear to see.
When you look at these new pages the most obvious changes are to the way they look. Each type of content - be it a project or announcement, for example - has a templated design so that all pages of that type look alike and adapt to whatever screen size you are using. The words you read are displayed in a new typeface that makes everything easier to read.
There are far fewer pages in this new site and every item of content has been analysed to make sure it is useful. Every item of content belongs to an organisation within the University and to one of 12 content types, with the aim of getting people to what they need more quickly. In the near future we intend to add topics as a third way of identifying and browsing our content, so that you don't need to know who in the university is responsible for that content.
The publisher of the content item you are looking at has followed a template when producing the page. Providing this structure makes the creation and editing of content quicker, reduces page errors and allows us to monitor and improve the quality of content. For example, every page is required to have a title and summary that is short, uses plain English and makes it clearer what the point of the page is.
All the people who can publish on the new site have been through training. The software has been designed so that next-to-no technical knowledge is required. Instead our training programme has focused on new skills that directly benefit the site's users, such as understanding user needs, content design and analysing content performance. This also means that we can let more staff publish content online and at the same time keep the quality high.
Suggest an improvement
We hope that the users of the site will let us know how well it is meeting their needs. We expect users to discover bugs, snags and additional content or features that need to be added or improved. If you find a problem or have a suggestion, we’ve provided a link to 'suggest an improvement’ at the foot of every page so you can tell us about an issue if you encounter it.
If the feedback relates to the content of the page, we will route this through to the publisher responsible to deal with. If it’s about the design or functionality then it will be for us in the Digital team to think about how we deal with it and resolve or explain why it isn’t possible or desirable. Either way your feedback will be acknowledged, responded to and it will always be welcomed.
Stay in touch
We will be posting further updates as we add content and features to the new site over the coming weeks, so check back regularly or sign-up to receive email alerts when we post.
What we've delivered in the last two weeks
- Publishers can access the preview and published version of a content item from the top of the edit screen in the CMS
- There is a new stripe at the top of published CMS pages linking to an explanation of what is changing on bath.ac.uk
- We've made the spacing between different content sections on a page more consistent
- When setting a Call to Action publishers can choose to add a URL, email address or telephone number
- Discovered and fixed a publishing-breaking bug in one of the third-party libraries we use. As we said by email, sorry to our publishers for this 🙁
- Improved our weekly analytics reports to include pages and sites linking to the wrong domains
- Set up the infrastructure to allow us to build our Performance Platform
- Made sure we don't archive third-party sites (like the BBC!) when we don't want to
- Making sure the content managed by Student Services and Accommodation and Hospitality Services is ready for final review
What we're going to do in the next two weeks
Pending some final checks we'll be publishing our first pages to www.bath.ac.uk using our new templates.
We'll write more about this when it happens, but most of the team's work we have scheduled for the next two weeks revolves around making sure this happens smoothly and that all the old pages are redirected to their newer, better, equivalents.
In addition, we'll be:
- Changing how we create our filterable lists of content to make sure they always include all relevant content
- Review and improve our size and ratio guidance for images on bath.ac.uk
- Running a first round of testing with academic colleagues from the University of Bristol
- Transitioning content owned by Marketing and Communications to the new platform
Doing anything with more regularity will provide performance benefits and provide insights into how to do it better, and over the last couple years we've really ramped up the frequency of our user testing.
Sooo, here are five lessons that I want to share from our latest round of testing (for our online course publisher). They really helped me to improve our process.
1. Keep the technology barrier low
We used to have our own 'testing lab' (a MacBook Pro running Silverback hooked up to PC peripherals), but we quickly found that people got confused by the unfamiliar interface.
Where possible we now get users to test on their own machines at their own desks to remove this barrier. This has the benefit of making our volunteers feel at ease by being in familiar surroundings. In other situations like guerilla testing, we've found that a tablet works really well, due to being portable and not requiring any accessory beyond a finger.
2. Don't go out alone
It's really hard to ask the questions and capture the answers effectively without help, so bring along a colleague. This also helps when approaching people cold because you will be more relaxed and confident, and from their perspective two random strangers approaching you is less unsettling than one.
3. Groups are good
Generally you get fewer in-depth responses when testing your product with a group of people, the trade-off being the greater breadth of replies. However, group discussion of individual responses leads to additional insight that you will not get when talking with one person. Make sure you allow time your testing script to accommodate this off-piste discussion.
4. Be realistic
It's better to test a few features thoroughly, than rush through a whole raft of different aspects. Also, it's really important not to run too many sessions at one time; it’s tiring and you’ll miss insight through fatigue and response bias (you re-interpret what someone says because you've heard the same response 8 times already that morning).
We found 4 large-scale (~45 minute) sessions was enough for one day - and around 9 smaller scale (~10 minute) sessions.
5. Be enthusiastic
You're proud of what you've done, but you want to make it better. Don't be defensive of any issues, instead thank the user for finding the problem - they've done you a big favour.
Always remember that people are giving up their time for you, for no reward - so make it an enjoyable experience!