Show & Tell, 27 February 2015

Posted in: Show & Tell

Everything we do now is work preparing towards the next stages for our website so our Show & Tell sessions now have a deeply beta flavour.

Pushing code live - Kelvin

Kelvin gave us an overview of how we’ve changed and improved our processes for making code go live

The bad old days

In the past there was live editing with no preview or fallback. If lots of changes were made and there was a need to revert it couldn't be done.  It was hard to manage, it was a case of save and you’re done.

FTP made things a little better but there was no fall back and changes were made in one big go.

The recent past - Subversion (SVN)

There was a move to the code repository Subversion. This allowed us to keep a master copy, track changes and give a history. We could revert back to previous versions but deployment was still a bit laborious. The process for review wasn’t rock solid at this point either.


The switch from SVN to Git has made things much easier.

  • We have SSH key access which means that machines can log on to each other with a key.
  • Changes are put into repository, deploy scripts are triggered and changes pushed to servers.
  • There is a lot of work in the setup with accounts, permissions, keys and build scripts but once this work has been done it it is a simple process.
  • We also have a review system in place.

All our new apps use this system.

Content Types - Charlotte

Charlotte took us through how we will be mapping old content from the current content management system (CMS) to the new content types that have been devised in the new CMS and website.

She explained briefly how a master list of content types has now been created so that it can be added to every content inventory that we run on the current site. This will appear as a drop down selection within the inventory spreadsheet so that web editors and web contributors will be able to map, or categorise, their content against the new content types in preparation for the transition to the new CMS. Once all content is mapped, it can be transferred to the relevant structured content template in the new CMS.

User testing the Alpha - Ross

Ross told us how he and Takashi had user tested the homepage to find out whether the it achieved the goal of helping users get to what they want, as well as showing them content that we want them to be aware of.

The sessions were done by doorstepping users on campus. With Ross acting as interviewer and Takashi as observer, using a scripted interview of about 5 minutes long they were able to approach:

  • 15 students
  • 5 staff
  • 15 prospective students

A mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students were asked to take part in the sessions.

Results were recorded on a written template sheet and there was also an audio record of the tests.

Users were asked to

  1. Look at the current homepage
  2. Identify the page
  3. Replay a recent task
  4. Look at the alternative alpha homepage
  5. Identify the page
  6. Replay a recent task
  7. Compare the experiences.

There were some BIG positives

There was instant recognition and everybody was able to use the alpha homepage with no problems.

One prospective student said when comparing the 2 pages that 'the old page looked like secondary school and the new looked like a university.'

The simplicity and clear layout of the alpha homepage received positive feedback and it helped users complete their tasks easily.

Issues to be aware of

  • Current students and staff don't use the homepage!
  • They use Google to search and end up on relevant pages on the website. This means they bypass the homepage entirely.
  • Some people mentioned the ‘Hero’ slot on the alpha - the main picture and overlay text was ‘cold’ and ‘boring’. The overlay text also obscured the faces in the picture being used.
  • Staff were difficult to ambush and they come with their own agenda and set of ideas which can be difficult for unbiased feedback.

Next steps

  1. Share with Digital
  2. Write up of findings
  3. Build the beta!

Prospectus Alpha model - Tom T

Tom ran through the issues he had met when trying to model the Prospectus alpha. He has been working on modelling how information could be entered into a prospectus app for it to be displayed online, or used in part for a hard copy prospectus.

For the purpose of his presentation Tom used the terminology ‘course’ to mean what the University of Bath refers to as ‘programme’ because we have discovered that prospective students (our users in this case) do not use the term ‘programme’.

The modelling of the prospectus is actually very complex as there are lots of different parts. We also have to take into consideration the Key Information Set (KIS) quandary. The external requirement to display one widget per course means that we need to have one page on the site per course.

The prospectus app will be a single source of truth - if there is information that is shared across different courses the aim is to only have to enter the information once and share it across courses rather than to have to enter the same information over again.

As such 6 bits of shared information have been identified.

  • Subjects
  • Professional recognition
  • Providers
  • Contacts
  • Placements
  • Study aboard opportunities

Tom also showed us the life cycle of a course entry and how might it work. At various points in the content creation process it may be created /reviewed/ published/ archived (not deleted) which raises the complexity of the app.

We have found during the Prospectus sprint that the terminology being used across departments is interchangeable. We need to define an agreed and set terminology in a future sprint.

Always look back. But don't be scared - Justin

Justin told us how he had worked with Computing Services to improve the user experience of the reset password process. As part of a larger project to look at the computing services section of the website he looked at the data to find what the most popular tasks on were and found that the 'reset password' task was the top result.

A quick win was to refocus the page content so that there was a benefit to the user. There were  6 related questions on the original page none of which  answered  the user need of  resetting a password. The content was refocused and streamlined so that users visiting the page could identify quickly and easily what they needed to do and carry out the task. Related pages  were also tidied up and in some cases made accessible where they hadn't been before.

The results of this piece of work were:

  • Several teams were helped out.
  • User focused content was put in context.
  • Task driven service information was prioritised.
  • Content on the site was reduced.

The next Show & Tell will be on Friday 13 March 2015.

Posted in: Show & Tell


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