Thursday 28 April 2011

V&A Website launch

Last week I managed to find enough time to head down to London for a sneak peak at the new Victoria & Albert Museum's website. Not only has it had a fantastic new front end design but it also has a rather impressive (and very technical) back end set up!

Running a combination of Drupal, Matrix, an open source search engine, Funnelback and a whole host of very clever, custom written scripts and databases the site runs really very well. It has a host of related content pulled in, clever cloud tags and a very visual design. Admittedly I did sit there a little zoned out as they started to show the lines of code they had written to do all of this but then my ISD colleague appeared to take all that part in!

What I found really interesting was that the catalogue of items held within the V&A had been crawled and compiled with and Open Source enterprise search engine. This doesn't sound that interesting until they mentioned that the catalogue is open to the public and that someone had written an Android application for them! The wonders of opening data up to the world means that people can really chip in and collaborate with you on your work.

Something to bear in mind when we're all sat at our desks working in our silos, a little collaboration goes a long way!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Design concepts... done!

After a furiously busy week last week we finally have an agreed design concept and functional specification.

The original design concept that came across was really good but as you can probably guess, everyone has an opinion on what the website should look like and so we needed to make some tweaks! In order to take the designs forward Squiz passed us the PSD files (try that with another agency!) and I sent them out to our internal designers for tweaking.

The only real area that needed looking at was the banner slot and how the banners will be displayed.The following day I had 5 alternative designs sent back to me and using a combination of two (thanks Mick & David) I presented the final design concept to our Steering Group members and it was happily signed off.

A great example of some flexible working and collaboration!

The functional specification document was a different beast as that one was down to me and a lot of reading time! Luckily the workshops we held at the beginning of the project helped to focus on what we wanted delivered and apart from having to read and re-read a 110 page document it required little changing. The advantages to doing some planning in the early stages certainly paid off and the final functional specification was signed off on Friday as well.

Tweaked, signed and done... phew! Now it's time to move on to the additional designs, project plan, build... migration.... testing.....

Friday 1 April 2011

Bring on the trike!

We had a special visitor on the campus today, a very friendly Google trike was here to start street mapping our campus locations. It turned up in a classic white van and when it was rolled out into the car park it really turned some heads!

So, what did we have done? Well, Luton campus was covered across the front of the new campus centre and all three access routes. We then packed up and moved on to Putteridge Bury canpus where the extensive driveway was shot, a full circle of the building itself and also the landscaped grounds which was a bonus. Lucky the trike could go off road! Finally we headed over Bedford campus and did a full run through of the whole campus layout from the Library round to the accommodation block.

It will take a little while for the images to appear on Google but once in place it does mean that we can embed the street view images into our website, a brilliant addition to our marketing materials!

Many thanks Google!