There is no standing still because time is moving forward

As many of us head off on our summer holidays, it’s always a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed. As we’ve highlighted previously, we’ve got a huge amount to be proud of. This time last year we weren’t even a team, the future held a lot of uncertainty and we had very little clue about where we would end up. It says a lot about the people that make up our team that we’ve managed to come together and do some outstanding work amidst that upheaval. From overhauling the course pages, to reforming our working practices. From embedding user and data led decision making to working more collaboratively with people from across the University. It’s been a busy old year!

The work we’ve completed are the foundations on which we’ll build the future of the team and the services that we provide. The scale of the task that lies before us is immense, and the more we look at the data, the more real it becomes to us.

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Let’s stop drowning in content

Websites, social media and apps are such a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives that it’s difficult to imagine a time when we made decisions about products or interacted with services purely by picking up the phone or looking at a printed catalogue and completing an order form. We all love the benefits that the digital revolution has brought; it empowers us as consumers, helps us make more informed decisions, brings individuals and communities closer together and ultimately gives us access to previously unimaginable amounts of data and information.

Yet there are drawbacks to this revolution. At times it can feel like we’re drowning in content. People have never been so empowered to make decisions but conversely never has the potential to be overwhelmed by information been so great. What strategies do we adopt when dealing with information overload? Unwittingly or not, we have all become more discerning and savvy as consumers. We cut out or ignore the fluff and the unnecessary content that competes for our attention, we become accustomed to curating content based on our needs and interests and look to trusted sources to validate any decisions we need to make when it comes to parting with our hard earned cash.

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The 10 (Web) Commandments

We have a long and exciting road ahead of us as we seek to make changes to the University website to help us achieve our long term goals. There are lots of demands on our time and resources, and as a result we have to prioritise what we do. Part of that process is determining some ground rules that we’ll adhere to as a team and as we work with our key stakeholders.

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Selling the student experience

Earlier this year, the undergraduate student prospectus was updated.  The marketing and design teams worked with an external agency to give it a contemporary look and feel and to ensure it fully showcased the student experience.  The resulting prospectus looked fantastic – it was vibrant, written in a friendly tone, included a variety of student voices, and featured high quality photography which really showed off the campus and city to their best advantage.

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Country pages for prospective international students

Introduction

Earlier this year we revamped our set of country pages – pages which are designed for prospective students from around the world.  These pages help students to become better informed about the University and city and cover topics such as entry requirements, fees and funding, information about visits by the international recruitment team, and general information about life in Dundee.

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UX Workshop for Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

The University of Dundee has recently restructured how web services are provided under a newly formed Web Services Team.

The Web Services team has 5 disciplines

  • Web Content
  • Web Design
  • Web Development
  • UX (User eXperience)
  • Support

When the team is working with colleagues at the University to redesign their web presence, we follow a process that has UX as an integral part of the process.

But first, what is UX?

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Accommodation

Accommodation is a great selling point for the University of Dundee, we have around 250 self-contained flats, the majority of which are on or around the city campus. Therefore, alongside our revamp of the course pages on the Study website we set about updating the Accommodation site.

Due to the way university applications work, applying for a room is more complex than just booking a hotel. You need to be holding an offer, then we’ll contact you, then there is an allocation procedure to try and match students up with students they’ll get on with. As such the old accommodation site was designed with the aim to guide applicants through all the information they need to know. This was a noble aim however the inherent assumption was that users would follow the predefined route – Ikea style – from start to finish.
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New Design for Course pages

In October 2015 the web team commenced a redesign of the course pages in the Study section of the website. The feedback from staff and students was that although the website overall had come on leaps and bounds over the last year there was still much we could do to improve the pages which are so crucial in showcasing our portfolio of programmes and making a compelling proposition to prospective students.

Through user testing with groups of students it became apparent that users were often finding it difficult to get to key information such as entry requirements or they were being overwhelmed or distracted by the sheer amount of options on the page.

So our first objective was clear –  improve the various issues around navigation and how people interact with the elements on a course page.
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