Thursday 5 September 2013

Flickr embed code is looking lovely!

Having had the site running for a few months we can now start rolling out some more interesting development work. So, to help with the display of images we can now support embedded Flickr galleries:

View the Hutton Hub development page here.

This is a perfect example of the team asking for development feedback from staff and actioning in a system (Matrix CMS) that is flexible enough for us to implement things very quickly. Well done to Ellis Taylor for the 24 hour turnaround time!

Thursday 27 June 2013

We are live!

So, after 9 months of build and a lot of meetings, phonecalls, tweeks, shouting, laughing and general madness the new University of Hertfordshire site is live!

Thankfully it looks pretty damn good...

Plenty of lessons learnt on the way, especially that data migration is still a pain even with the best possible plans in place. Also, using data from different systems carries a level of risk far higher than first anticipated. Luckily, I have an excellent team who have managed to run through and fix a lot of issues in a very short period of time. Phew!

So, for now, go forth and enjoy the new site!

Visit the new University of Hertfordshire website here.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

36 down, 38 to go...

Training started last week and we have just begun week two of a reasonably comprehensive run through of Edit+. So far 36 people have been trained and we have 38 left to go... thankfully though, all the feedback has been positive! Bringing in an editor that people can easily understand and use to add content to their page will mean that the team and I can spend time developing new functionality rather than acting as technical support.

The whole process has highlighted the frustrations that people have with the current system, including some issues we didn't expect:

  • I can't add anchor points
  • I have to use a separate content clean up tool when pasting from Word
  • I can't build forms
  • I can't edit tables
Luckily Edit+ and Matrix addresses all of these issues and many others that haven't been raised yet! But, it does surprise and sadden me that our editors currently have such a poor editing experience, although it explains the lack of engagement that we are currently battling.

Never mind, it'll all be fixed in a month or so, roll on June!

Tuesday 7 May 2013

It's time for some editor training!

With only 2 months until the new website launches we are starting to reach the point where we need to engage with and train our existing editors in Edit+. A potentially huge task when you initially look at it...

The starting point for this is to look at who currently has an account and their activity within the site. It turns out that getting a list is pretty easy but that finding out how engaged they are is far trickier. The current CMS's we use don't give you stats on editors so we have very little idea about who owns what page, login details, activity, etc. So I am essentially starting from scratch and trying to build a list that highlights who is still active, the area they edit and their level of activity.

The starting point is to email all 152 of them and see who replies! Then, those who reply are listed and asked to provide details on their area and level of activity. This then give me a list of 74 people, a 50% cull on old accounts.

Now that I have a more up-to-date list I can book people in for training slots. I've decided to use Doodle as the booking system as it was recommended to me by a colleague. I have to say, it's a great tool, really easy to use, flexible and not packed with functionality i'm not interested in! Having set-up the dates and times of the training sessions it's then just a case of emailing the list of editors and letting them select the slot that works for them.

As you can see from the screenshot the layout is very clear which has led to no questions coming back to me about how to book onto a course. So far, of the 74 active users 68 of them have signed up via Doodle, not a bad drop out rate.

So, if you're looking to run training courses, events or drop in sessions then Doodle could be a useful tool for you to use.

All I need to do now is create a training site, training materials, session content... nothing too major.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Internet World 2013 - Not that great...

Not sure if it was me or a sign of the times but Internet World felt far smaller this year than last year. As you would expect there were the usual suspects attending, Sage Pay, SiteCore, WebTrends, etc, but the place felt pretty empty and pretty slim on exhibitors.

However, as I was there specifically to pick up contacts for SEO it did serve a purpose and I did manage to find a few companies worth considering.

It wasn't all bad though, Sage Pay did appear to have a cloud generating machine (see pic) that was mildly amusing... and there was the expected buzz word bingo on 'Responsive'. Here's hoping that it picks up and the exhibition is better attended next year!

Monday 15 April 2013

Training, training, training...

We're now at the point in the project where we are all getting our training on the system. Although this isn't new to me it is to the rest of the team and it's been interesting to see how easily everyone has picked up the new system.

This is partly to do with having a very good trainer (Hello Dave!) and also the fact that the system makes sense. Compared to our current systems, OpenText and Shado, Squiz Matrix is ridiculously easy to pick up and use and you can start creating pages very quickly. We had all created and published out a modest 6 page site within 10 minutes...

Dave also has an exam at the end of the training sessions designed to ensure that the attendee has understood all points covered during the day. Thankfully, the team all passed with 95% or more so we're in a rather strong position to now move on and start training our internal editors in how to use the system.

Lucky really as I currently have a list of 160 editors waiting to be trained!

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Project update, it's been a while!

Well, it's been a very long time since I put a posting up which is probably a sign that things have been rather busy this end! So, a quick post to catch up on where we are with the project & thankfully everything is looking good:

  • The concept designs have been signed off and we are now at the point of cutting these up.
  • The responsive designs have landed with me for approval, so far everything looks great so it's now a case of running them past the various boards.
  • We're due to start our Matrix training next week (Morning Dave) with a number of introduction and advanced courses to complete. Following our training i'll be mapping out an intensive training session for the 100+ editors currently working on the website.

A lot of the team and still working through the content refresh and with only 6 weeks to go we will have covered all 10,000 pages of content. An incredible task that has meant we have cut down the size of the website by around 15-20% and by using our SiteImprove tool, fixed over 600 broken links and corrected over 1,800 spelling mistakes.

As you can tell from the above we are ploughing through tasks at an amazing rate and are still on track for our launch date later this year. Exciting times ahead for us as the launch of the new website will really only be the start of the project!

Thursday 28 February 2013

The rise of the Chromebook?

Chrome as an operating system has been around for a while but has never seemingly taken off. This may be due to the fact that the cloud based nature of it has been too big of a jump for people moving away from Windows and the supposed 'safety' of Office.

However, now that the Chrome OS has had a little time to mature there appears to be far less barriers to jumping on board.

Firstly, the cost of the hardware makes it look very appealing, starting at just £199 for the lower spec model. Although their new flagship model, the Chromebook Pixel (video below) will set you back £1,049...

Secondly, the option for offline editing has improved vastly with Documents and Presentations being available to edit offline with them syncing when a connection becomes available again. Although there is still a way to go, Spreadsheets and Drawings aren't available for editing yet, this is far better than it was last year.

Lastly, it's easy to use. The Chrome OS is a 'light' version of an operating system that focuses specifically on browsing the web, document creation and portability. Ideal for taking to meetings and using as a laptop in front of the TV. If you're a diehard gamer then it's not for you but for the day-to-day browser this could prove to be a very useful machine.

The big question now is, do you feel brave enough to leave Windows behind?

Thursday 14 February 2013

"So i'm getting Scroogled?!" Er, probably not...

I think it's fair to say that i'm very happy using my Google products (Mail, Calendar, Docs, Blogger, etc) and they all work rather well. But, I also realise that Google specialise in paid for advertising and that the compromise for having free tools to use is that some may carry some ads, which are usually discrete and I always ignore. So, it was quite amusing to see that Microsoft has started a fairly low level smear campaign to bolster the take up of 

Only problem is, the below video really just looks like something a bored student has put together, or is that the point?

Negative marketing may be the new approach for Microsoft, but as Marketing Land point out this may not be having the effect they were hoping for:

"To date, the Microsoft-backed petition against Gmail’s practices has gained about over 6,000 signatures — equal to about 0.002% of Gmail’s user base."

 Could this be a case of Microsoft telling us what we already know? "Hey, Google does advertising..."

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Concept Design Feedback, seems all good...

It's been a week and a half since I took delivery of the new concept designs for the website and there's been a flurry of activity around collecting feedback! Last week was a round of showcases for board members as well as a week of collecting comments from students at our De Havilland campus.

The good news is that we are running at 92% positive feedback on the new designs overall and when we filter out the staff feedback we are at 94% positive for our students. Not a bad number and we still have a week of feedback to collect as well...

Having a mixture of Yes/No questions with narrative follow ups has allowed us to pick up on recurrent themes within the comments and is highlighting what we should be addressing in order to get as close to 100% positive as possible. No shockers so far which is good and hopefully I can roll out a very small preview closer to us going live!

Interestingly, within the questions we started to tease out some feedback on mobile usage, currently we only have 49% of our students/staff accessing the University website on their mobile phone, mainly due to the awkwardness of navigation. However, when asked if they would use the site if it were responsive the number went up to 63%... highlights that mobile usage is more front of mind than some people may think!

Monday 28 January 2013

Concept designs have arrived!

One of the most asked questions when running through a digital project is "What will it look like?" which is usually followed by a statement such as "I know a few things about design, i'd be happy to help you..."

The presentation of new designs can be an exciting time in the project but requires close management on what happens with the feedback given. All comments are valid but there needs to be an assessment of the impact suggestions can have and how they might impact on the overall business requirements. I have just taken delivery of the new concepts designs for the website from Squiz's Head of Design Matt and they look amazing! Although I have my preference over which design I prefer I now need to keep a neutral hat on whilst showcasing the designs to all stakeholders.

So for the next two weeks I will be collecting feedback, collating suggestions and starting to draw out the comments that keep cropping up. This should give me a good understanding of any potential issues and then how to rectify them. Ultimately there will need to be a decision on what not to action...

So, a significant step in the project that all stakeholders can participate in, is that a good or a bad thing!

Tuesday 15 January 2013

I'm famous! Well, sort of...

Eight months after the Google Street View trike visited my old work the images are up and running on Google Maps.

What I hadn't realised was that I would have a starring role at all three locations... Here I am loitering at the Luton campus:

View Larger Map

But, can you complete the game of "Where's Kris" and find me at the Putteridge Bury and Bedford campuses!

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Happy New Year!

A very quick post to say Happy New Year! 2012 has been a fantastic year with a website launch, a new job and a new project under my belt.

However, 2013 looks as though it will prove to be even better, 6 months to go with the new website project and then a few more potential projects to follow.

Exciting times ahead!