What’s so great about the new people pages?

Staff profiles are one of the most hotly debated pieces of functionality that we have tackled on the new University website. We know that with almost 3,800 members of staff, we will have almost as many opinions about what they should and shouldn’t include and how they should look. It was important to hear as many of those opinions as possible which is why we’ve spent almost a year gathering information, developing prototypes and seeking feedback from a variety of people.

The new people profiles represent a big leap forward for the new site. They are one of the core building blocks around which we will create a lot of our content from now on so that we place our world class people at the centre of the site.

New features

A profile for everyone!

One of the most interesting pieces of feedback we received from a variety of different people was how people associated profiles with the value the University places on them. Governance across Schools and Directorates varied wildly here with some areas showcasing all their staff, whilst others reserving them for the more senior positions. Many staff said this made them feel that their contribution to the University was undervalued.

We’re therefore making it possible for everyone to have a profile on the site to allow them to showcase the work that they do.

Consistent and correct information

High quality and correct information is a key driver for the new site and wherever possible we’re trying to reduce duplication of information and rely more on pulling information from primary data sources. We find a lot of profiles that are duplicates of others as well as many for people who have no longer work for the University.

We’re therefore moving to automatically creating profiles based on central HR data, so they’re automatically created and removed when someone joins or leaves the University. Wherever possible we will be encouraging people to ensure their information is correct at source.

Better flexibility

Our people are involved in a wide range of work that we currently try to represent primarily through text. This often falls short in doing it justice. Many, especially those in the visual disciplines, don’t have the ability to include imagery or video within their profiles.

We’re therefore adding functionality to allow people to add in imagery in several different formats to help them describe the work that they’re involved in.

Semantic markup

A fantastic feature that you’ll likely never see or realise is there! This allows us to describe our content to search engines so that they can better determine what type of content we’re producing and feed that back to their users in more useful formats. This should lead to better quality results in search engines and therefore increased traffic to our profiles.

Written by:

Andrew graduated from the University of Dundee in 2003 with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Computing. He started working for the University in 2004 and spent four years working in the Careers Service and across wider Student Services. In 2008 he moved to the College of Life Sciences to act as their web developer, eventually expanding in 2012 to take on the development of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing sites as well as heading up their IT unit in 2014-15. He became Head of Web Services in 2015 and brought together teams from across the University to create a unified web services team for the University.

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