Last month marked my two-year anniversary at the University. I’m a Web Content Editor, and I’ve held the position at two faculties. I joined as maternity cover for Saskia in the Faculty of Science and later moved to a permanent role at the School of Management. Maybe one day I’ll have ticked off all four Faculties. I think you get a certificate for that.
In short, Faculty Web Editors (FWEs) plan, develop and deliver digital content. (Management is technically a School, not a Faculty; but for simplicity’s sake we’re referred to as FWEs.) While the focus is largely on our ‘local’ web sections, we often work on projects for the wider bath.ac.uk too. It’s a varied, interesting role and quite a lot of fun too.
One of my favourite things about being an FWE are the opportunities for collaboration. We often collaborate with the Digital team, which is great, but we work together as a mini-team on special projects as well.
I like to think of us as a crack commando unit that comes together to solve problems, a bit like the A-Team. Stretching this already-weak metaphor to breaking point, that definitely makes me Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck.
Why we do it
Collaboration is important to ensure each Faculty has input into central projects. It lets us consider the problem from all angles, and develop solutions that hopefully work for all of us.
It also helps us maintain a consistent approach to how we each do things. This ultimately helps our users and reflects better on the University. The conversations we’ve had around how we should consistently refer to course titles would make your head spin.
We can share best practice too. When one of the other Faculties is doing something innovative or better than we are, I'll take note.
And of course, four heads are better than one. Proofing each other’s work, suggesting changes and writing together helps us all make better content.
Ways we collaborate
Although we work in different buildings, we’re in contact nearly all of the time. Like a lot of collaborators, we use Slack instant messaging to avoid clogging up our inboxes. This allows us to quickly:
- canvass opinion
- discuss approaches
- ask questions
- share interesting articles/tools we’ve found
- (occasionally) vent spleen
- share stupid GIFs
Being able to ask the other FWEs for advice, and get a near-instant response, is very handy. It’s a great comfort to know that when I’m not sure or confused about something (which happens more often than I’d care to admit), I’ve got three very supportive, capable people to fall back on.
But the magic really happens when we’re all together in person. It’s not uncommon to see us huddled around a table in Digital base camp. This tends to be when we’re working on sprints. These are week-long efforts to focus on one project, and how the Digital team organise their work.
Recently, we’ve worked together on:
- modelling our course content, and pulling it together for digital and print use (although I can’t take nearly as much credit for this one as my colleagues)
- an ongoing piece of work looking at the University's various research entities and how to present them in the Content Publisher
- working to get content brushed up for the Faculty web sections launching on the new bath.ac.uk
By working away from our desks we get the chance to focus only on the task at hand. It also means we can directly harass the Digital team when we need their expertise or something fixing. Win-win.
Why we work well together
It helps that Matt, Becky and Saskia are very nice people and I’ve learned a lot from the sprints we’ve done. We share mutual respect, tolerance and openness to ideas. They’re also pretty cool about me making obscure references to 80s TV shows.
I think we have a shared interest in making the content we’re responsible for as useful for our users as we can. We’ve got a good mix of backgrounds and each brings different experiences and expertise to projects. And it helps that we all get on pretty well. When not working together, we have regular catch-ups and even manage the occasional post-work beer.
There’s a sense of camaraderie when we collaborate, and a willingness to help each other to achieve our goals. I'm looking forward to the next sprint already. Not least because I still need to decide which of the others is Howling Mad Murdock.