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.
Every year, almost 2million individual users visit our site from over 230 different countries/territories from around the world. They generate nearly 14million page views using 5,700 different types of device and every year we detect people setting their browser language to over 360 different language / language family variants. We also have to deal with over 120 different versions of browser accessing our main site alone.
Google currently indexes almost 540,000 bits of content across all *.dundee.ac.uk domains. That figure increases significantly when you consider the 150+ other domains that are registered to us. Only 38,000 of those pages reside on our main site but the top three sections generate 50% of the traffic.
So as we move forward into the new academic year, we have a significant amount of work ahead of us, but also some difficult questions to start asking ourselves as an institution. Web Services is here to support that process, and there are a number of significant projects currently being planned to help guide us through that.
- User Testing
You’ll see us out and about during Open Days and Welcome Week speaking to prospective students and those who are about to embark on their Dundee journey. We’ll be gathering data on their thoughts and experiences around how they got here, with a particular emphasis on their experience with the website and inviting them to join our new User Community. We’ve also got visits to local schools lined up where we’ll listen and talk to pupils who are starting the process of applying and try to understand how we can better meet their needs. We’ll also be engaging with current staff and students from across the University and encouraging them to sign up to the User Community to help us understand the internal needs as well.
- Brand Refresh
One of the major projects that we’re heavily involved in, along with others across the University, is looking at the University brand and helping to develop it. We’re working with TangentGraphic, who are a brand agency from Glasgow, and have already had some exciting conversations around where we can go. This work is so much more than just looking at logos and colours, and will serve as a springboard for some really exciting changes in the future.
- Managing Support and Projects
At any one time we have between 30-40 active projects on the go. In addition we resolve 20-30 different support calls on a weekly basis. We’ve laid the groundwork for reforming how we manage the demands on our time to give an enhanced service to our users, but also to free up our time to work on larger business as usual and transformational projects. There is still a massive amount to do as we’re trying to change a culture as well as a process.
With so much to do it’s clear that we can’t do everything and we will need to focus on key areas. Working towards the end of the year we’ll be developing a strategy for taking web forward into the future and making it work hard for us. This will tie closely to the needs of the business and the External Relations strategy for focusing on the 4 R’s (Recruitment, Reputation, Research and Revenue).
The past year has been difficult, and the future looks challenging, but we’ve never been better equipped or ready to face it. So onwards we go!