In a year like no other in which our lives have been turned upside down, one thing that hasn’t changed is the demand for our time to support critical areas of business. This year was already shaping up to be very busy as we moved forward with the web update project, but 2020 had quite a number of curveballs.
Over the year we have created many different design concepts including those for Schools & Directions, Postgraduate Research, Projects, Clearing, Classifications, Locations, Facilities, Subjects, Corporate Information, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Events , and the new start page. Many of these have already been implemented, with more to come in 2021.
Our new platform continues to perform well with ongoing improvements implemented on a regular basis:
- 512 merger requests
- 384 closed issues
- 1447 is committed to our development branch
- 47 versions to add new features
We’ve been working with colleagues from across the University on a huge variety of new projects to generate new and engaging content and clean up old and tired material. Meanwhile, we’ve handled over 3,000 requests from across the University for help with business as usual.
All of this combined to help 44 new sections go live in 2020. This brings the total live sections on the new platform to 67, which is over 11,000 pages. The new platform served over 8.7 million page views during 2020, an increase of over 5.7 million from the prior year, and puts us on track to meet our goal of retiring our old infrastructure.
Here are just a few of the highlights from another busy year.
The start of the year saw the publication of the postgraduate taught courses pages and subject pages. This was a major work to fully update all content on our course pages.
In February, the front page related to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) was published. Little did we know how much it would affect our lives and how much time would be consumed making content on this topic available to support staff and students.
We rolled out an announcement content type for student and staff posts (which was pretty handy for all those Coronavirus posts!).
A Parkinson’s fundraising campaign page has also been released.
Much of March was spent both preparing for and transitioning to remote work, ensuring we and our infrastructure continued to function, and supporting messages being sent to staff and students about the growing threat of COVID-19. However, the work didn’t stop and short courses were the next type of course to be migrated. Courses include pre-session courses in English and foreign languages.
Migrating policy content has been an ongoing task for us this year. You can read more about the new content type that went live in April in the blog post below.
Address company policies and information on the University website
When the pandemic hit, much of what we did in the past had to move online. This was especially true for our Degree Shows, where we developed an improved online offering to showcase our students’ work.
The newly formed Doctoral Academy was launched together with the Health Service.
We also completed a rigorous competitive tender to replace our module building solution that has been creaking for some time. Rollout on our sites started quickly and is still ongoing.
June marked a big milestone for us as we went live with the first school site, the School of Business.
The quality of our facilities, such as laboratories and studios, is a major reason why so many students and staff come to study and work in Dundee. In June, we launched our new structure and location content types to help us promote them.
The new Industry section explains how companies can partner with us to make the most of our expertise and facilities.
Coronavirus work continued with new areas for fundraising, applicant and candidate information, and feedback back to campus for current staff and students.
July saw the annual return of Clearing, this time in the new CMS! It is normally a difficult time as we try to create an attractive and user-friendly structure for prospective students. Even more so this year with the constant shifting sands of government policy beneath us. It was still one of the best organized cleanup campaigns we’ve ever been involved in. A huge thank you to everyone involved, but especially to the admissions teams who got busy while remaining eternally cheerful!
We have also developed a new area on the website that promotes aspects of campus and city life to prospective students. To support them in their decision-making process a new chat has been launched which connects them with student ambassadors using the UniBuddy platform.
Alongside these projects we have also worked on graduate placements, language courses and information governance.
August was another busy month in which we focused our attention on the School of Science and Engineering and associated disciplines.
The migration of the Welcome pages has allowed us to provide support and information to new students.
We have also used the power of our new related content to create the section of the online alumni magazine: The Bridge.
September saw the introduction of the new accessibility legislation which we have spent the better part of 2 years preparing so far. This included the new
A huge effort has been made to make our components, templates and pages 100% available, usable and readable by every single visitor. Over 260 front-end development work items have been completed on our template library; from major work such as building new components and creating variations of existing components, to minor improvements and bug fixes, all with the goal of improving the user experience of our website visitors.
We have also completed the migration of the old TASC site to the infrastructure managed by the University.
The new cohort of student bloggers have been recruited for this year’s work and they have been churning out weekly blogs about life at the University of Dundee during a pandemic.
We have also implemented a new scheme of regular website testing with staff and students to feed into our continuous improvement programme.
The School of Humanities and Strategic Planning launched in November.
We have also completed work on provisioning new servers to support our blogging platform and completed the migration of blog.dundee.ac.uk. This pilot is now being rolled out into our blog infrastructure and is expected to be completed in January 2021.
The new About pages provide clear and concise information about our organizational structure, vision and leadership.
We’ve also used the new Leaderboards content type to create a new area for this information. Handily, we can also dynamically post this content to course and topic pages as well – aren’t we smart!
We replaced the existing engineering topics page with three specialized engineering topics pages. We also launched the new IT pages.
We have also launched sections relating to our holiday events and opening hours and a landing page for agents.
Bye bye 2020, bye 2021!
We’ve had our highs and lows this year. We’ve learned a lot and there’s a lot we’ll be happy to leave behind. I am incredibly proud of the team for what we have delivered this year under very difficult circumstances. Let’s hope 2021 is always slightly quieter than 2020!