Beta approved

Posted in: Beta, Development

The University’s strategic goal is to be recognised as an international centre of research and teaching excellence. The quality of our digital domain plays an essential role in delivering this vision.

From Alpha to Beta

An ‘Alpha’ version of a new University website and content management system was trialled between January 12th - February 27th 2015. The technical infrastructure, design patterns and content strategy performed well when subjected to performance monitoring and user testing. As a result, we recommended that the University proceed to the ‘Beta’ phase of a new, involving upgrades to our digital publishing platform that build on the model trialled in the Alpha.

We are pleased to announce that the request to move to the Beta phase has been approved by the Digital Steering Group. I’m sure you’ll agree that this presents a great opportunity to improve the University's digital publishing and service delivery.

What's in and out of scope

Included in the scope of the Beta will be:

Content strategy

  • Every content item must answer a defined user need.
  • Publishing devolved to subject experts through fine-grained roles and permissions.
  • Deciding what to publish and when based on data.

Information architecture

  • Content arranged around defined, measurable user journeys.
  • Content items pooled by content type, theme and organisation.
  • Descriptive URLs that are short and easy to remember.

Technical infrastructure

  • Ruby on Rails apps running on Linux servers using Oracle, with on-network content storage, and code held in GitHub Enterprise being deployed from Bamboo by Mina.
  • Faster content publishing and delivery and better application reliability and uptime.
  • Simpler process for adding, modifying and retiring features.


  • Consistent patterns throughout site and CMS, which adapt to any screen size.
  • Optimised for readability.
  • Minimum of WCAG AA standard accessibility.

Not included in the scope of the Beta phase are:

  • Content on subdomains of, managed using applications other than OpenCMS and/or which does not use existing templates (eg. School of Management)
  • Tools and transactions (eg, student records, room booking)
  • Online version of the Prospectus
  • ‘Personal home pages’ (eg.
  • Supplementary publishing platforms (eg blogs.bath and wiki.bath)
  • Social media channels.

All in the delivery

Delivery of the Beta phase will take place over March - December 2015. The initial build and transition phase will be a ‘twin track’ delivery comprised of:

  1. the design and development of the publishing platform applications
  2. the transition of publishers and their content to the new platform.

The delivery will be split into several stages with the public release of the Beta scheduled for the beginning of September.

The Digital team will support every department’s transition to the new Each department will be required to appoint a lead publisher to coordinate their transition. These individuals are the ‘single points of contact’ for the Digital team and should have the delegated authority to carry out the stages of transition.

The delivery team will use the Scrum project management methodology, working in two-week long sprints and releasing platform features on a regular basis within each sprint period. Progress will be overseen by the Digital Steering Group and tracked through use of project delivery boards, documentation stored on the wiki, and the code held in the University’s code repository.

Working as one

The build of the CMS is underway. We have also carried out an inventory of every section of the website, to determine what content it holds, who manages the content and how it is being used.

The next step is to meet with each department with content on the website and introduce the findings from the inventory process. During the meeting we will demonstrate the progress we’ve made with the CMS and answer any questions about the transition process.

Rebuilding our publishing platform in this manner will provide publishers with a faster and more reliable tool, and it will allow the Digital team to dedicate more resources to continuous optimisation of the platform rather than maintenance. The overall result will be a University of Bath website that is more useful for students and staff and a more effective channel for external communication and engagement.

Delivery of this vision requires collective effort. So let’s get together and build a digital domain we can be proud of.

Posted in: Beta, Development