Digital Marketing & Communications

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

Digital team sprint notes 27 July - 22 August

📥  Sprint notes

If you are on campus, you can read about the latest Content Publisher changes as and when they happen at The monthly Digital Roadmap also contains information about recently delivered features and a longer-term view on what we're delivering next.

What we've delivered

  • We've added "External Item" as a content type so that publishers can now pin pages hosted by older content management systems or off-site resources to Organisation Landing Pages
  • We updated the Worldwide Collection to feature our activities in Brazil
  • We shipped three new Collections for Induction: Undergraduate Induction, Taught Postgraduate Induction and Postgraduate Research Induction. In the process, we cleared off a huge amount of old content debt from three different areas of the website. This is also the first time ever that we have a provided a single, dedicated area for PGR induction information.
  • We worked with colleagues at Academic Registry to transition their information about Individual Mitigating Circumstances from an old Dreamweaver section to easily accessible guides and publications. This section is now being fact-checked and we hope to launch it soon.
  • Publishers can now attach .ics (calendar) files to Publications
  • New subtypes are available: "Press release" for Announcements, "Letter" and "Timetable" for Corporate Information and "Handbook" for Publications
  • Course Publisher is now using a reliable database infrastructure

What we're going to deliver

We have a lot of people on leave over the Bank Holiday week, and are in the first of multiple sprints to transition part of our student recruitment content. Nevertheless we will:

  • substantially improve the mechanism for creating and editing Collections
  • make the headings in the sidebar of an Event type all be the same size
  • write up our first round of testing on our Organisation Landing Pages


Digital Roadmap update for August 2016

📥  Roadmap

Shipped in July

Brazil ‘take over’ of Worldwide

Timed to coincide with Rio 2016, the ‘take over’ of the Worldwide landing page provides a new way to explore our activities in Brazil.

The ‘take over’ includes new content exploring our research impact, the experiences of students from Brazil and the story of our Rio 2016 hopefuls.

We are also carrying out targeted activity on social media to raise the profile of the University to a wider audience based on their interests.


Working with subject experts from across the University, we've launched three new induction sections providing a destination for new undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research students.

Students will find all the information they need to help them get started at Bath, including advice on how to accept their offer, moving in, as well access to their departmental induction timetable, services and directions to locations on campus.

Induction video shorts

We’ve created some short videos to support induction. We’ll use them to highlight important things students should do before they get here. We’ll post them on the University’s social media channels and translate them into Chinese for use on Sina Weibo.

Future videos include: things you should bring, moving in, document checking and how to get online.

Content Publisher improvements

Publishers can now feature external content items on Department and Collection landing pages, they can also upload more document types to the Content Publisher.


  • A new way for users to and supporting channels
  • Users can now access and download more filetypes, including iCal.

Download the latest Digital Roadmap


The University of Bath's Digital Design Principles


📥  Communication, Design, Digital strategy, Style, content and design

Based on our current Digital Delivery Principles, I recently sat down and drafted a set of Design Principles. These were shared at one of our Show and Tells as a presentation, but I thought I'd reproduce it here on our blog for a wider audience.

1. Design for real people

”Remember who you are designing for”, is the most important thing we can do.

Every design decision we make should solve an actual problem that a site visitor has, or facilitate a real user need. Design should serve the content it presents, design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration. We always keep in mind that the end user of a page can be very different to us, with different needs, expectations, and abilities, and ensure that our design does not exclude them from getting the answers they need.

2. Design with data

Successful design starts from a clear and informed position.

Our approach is inclusive: we're building a site that will provide the optimal experience for a visitor whoever they are and whatever device they are using. To achieve this we conduct user research to better understand what people expect. We test changes, features and assumptions with users to get insight and feedback that ensures we are delivering on that expectation. It is as important to remove failing features as it is to add new features into our design, and the ability to know what works and what doesn't only comes from data.

3. Be simple, fast and effortless

Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.

We maintain a pattern library to ensure the design of elements is consistent, and this ensures that our interactions speak to users with a single voice, building trust.
We strive to ensure that our design affords our visitor with an experience that feels fast – they should be able to find what they need on the page without a delay. Images are optimised for the device they are viewed on, visual enhancements are loaded progressively, and do not disturb the flow of content on the page.
We minimise pain-points as much as possible with an awareness of good practice, to provide an effortless experience.

4. Make bold choices

We measure ourselves against the very best, and we should not come up short.

The success of the University of Bath is based on calculated risk-taking, knowing when to break from convention, and when to reprioritise your approach to better fulfil the requirements of the people who depend on you. Instead of simply matching what other institutions offer, we challenge them with innovative approaches and ideas that better serve users’ needs.

5. Always evolving

We believe that things can always be made better, and we know that good design is never finished.

It is pointless to sink 2 months into crafting the most beautiful interface if it does not allow the visitor to complete their task, or does not work on a mobile device. We release a design feature as soon as possible, and then iterate on that delivery to improve it.


Digital team sprint note, 12 - 25 July

📥  Communication

Don't forget that if you're on campus you can check out what we have shipped on

What we've delivered

  • You can now upload .ics files as part of a Publication
  • You can now select 'Press release' for Announcements, 'Letter' or 'Timetable' for Corporate Information and 'Handbook' for Publications as their sub-type
  • Admins can now add Labels to content items
  • Pinned items with a featured image now have links around the image
  • We improved the spacing of the Supervisor availability section on staff profiles
  • We made the profile image on Academic profiles the same size as staff profiles
  • We improved the spacing around the ruled list items
  • Lists of content items can now be filtered by subtype
  • We created a couple of Guides relating to Brexit
  • We created a Collection for our Brexit related information
  • We edited content submitted for our next takeover of Worldwide - Brazil
  • We created content for Induction

What we're going to deliver

  • Be able to pin links to external pages on to Landing Pages
  • Roll out creating a Collection to admins
  • Build the Collections for Undergraduate Student Induction, Postgraduate Taught Student Induction and Postgraduate Research Student Induction
  • Have filtered lists of Content Items by Label


Digital team sprint notes, 28 June – 11 July

📥  Sprint notes

If you are on campus, you can read about the latest Content Publisher changes as and when they happen at

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

Digital Roadmap update for July 2016

📥  Roadmap

Shipped in June

Landing page curation improvements

We’ve made it easier to find information on a landing page and navigate to related content.

Authors can now ‘pin’ shared content items from other departments and groups to landing pages.

You can also feature groups, team, services and locations from the section of the page called ‘About’.

Content Publisher improvements

List pages

We’ve improved lists by changing how content items are sorted and introduced filtering by type to help you narrow your search.


We've made it easier for users to find information based on subject. Labels allow authors to organise content tailored to a particular audience or subject area.

Person profiles

Based on user research we've improved Person profiles so that they better meet the needs of academics and prospective postgraduate research students.

We've made titles clear and information is now prioritised based on the individual role.

Admissions and Outreach (including Widening Participation)

We've made it easier for prospective students, parents and staff to find information about our Admissions teams and our outreach activities with under-represented groups.

  • Single destination for admissions and outreach information
Improved contact information for Admissions, including opening hours of the Admissions office
  • Specific content for teachers who work with under-represented groups
  • Improved information for students interested in participating in outreach activities

Awards Ceremonies

We've built and shipped the first iteration of the new Award Ceremonies section, providing a new destination for students, parents, honorary graduates and member of the public.
Visitors can find out about the day, celebrate successes and learn about the achievements of our honorary graduates.

In future iterations we'll work with the Academic Registry to create a single destination for information about how to graduate, selecting the right academic dress and how to book tickets for guests.

Computing Services

We’re improving induction information to make it easier for new students to get help with setting up digital services when they arrive on campus for the first time.

Computing Services is now working to improve information for new staff, complementing information they have already created for new students.

Research Innovation Services (RIS)

We’ve built and shipped the first iteration of staff profiles for members of the RIS leadership team.

RIS is now working to make it easier for researchers to get help developing their research proposals. They are also creating a guide to using Pure.

Download the latest Digital Roadmap


Digital team sprint notes 28 May - 27 June

📥  Sprint notes

If you are on campus, you can read about the latest Content Publisher changes as and when they happen on

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


Get told immediately when your tests pass or fail with Guard and terminal-notifier-guard

📥  Communication, Development, Howto, Tools


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?

Get notified

With Guard on its own, you'd still have to Cmd + 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
gem 'minitest-reporters'
gem 'guard'
gem 'guard-minitest'
gem 'terminal-notifier-guard'

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.

Happy coding!


Digital team sprint notes 17 - 27 May

📥  Sprint notes

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


Launching Worldwide

📥  Development, International

We have recently launched Worldwide on

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.