On Tuesday 27 November, the University’s digital team hosted the very first OneWeb Festival – a university-led event to exchange ideas and best practice across various digital disciplines to staff and students.
It was a busy day, with typical festival weather (wet!), and sessions held at both Highfield and Avenue campuses featuring talks on a number of topics, including:
- User needs
- Content-first transformation
- Usability testing
- User research
- Social media listening and guiding principles
- Agile practices
Caption: ‘So there is a beer tent’ credit: Ed Fay @digitalfay
We’d like to thank Padma Gillen, Rob Armstrong-Haworth, Katrina Dixon, Mark Wyatt and Lee Duddell for their enormous spirit, honesty, and inspiration during the sessions. Big thanks must also go to the Digital Team, who organised the event and helped ensure proceedings went smoothly (even when fire alarms were going off and evacuations were required!).
For our colleagues and students who managed to attend, thank you for your great questions and input into the sessions. Your collaboration is fundamental to the OneWeb Project and we look forward to continuing these conversations with you in the weeks and months ahead.
For those of you couldn’t make it, you can check out the #OneWebFestival hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn for posts about the event. We have also included below a recap of each session, with slides and key learnings.
To find out what each session covered, what we learned and to access the session slides, scroll down the page or use the links below.
Keynote – Speaking with one voice: Creating great content in large organisations
Padma Gillen – Lead Consultant on the OneWeb Project, Llibertat
Welcome and introduction by Ian Dunn, COO
Credit: Stephanie Rabasa, Twitter: @stephrabasa
Padma’s keynote introduced the challenges and solutions for large organisations when it comes to publishing quality content on the web, which goes far beyond having good writers and great content teams.
What we learned
- Agile is low risk and the most efficient way to do digital projects, and it prioritises user needs and delivering over reporting and following a plan to the letter
- structured content is planned, developed, etc., outside of any interface, so that it can be used by any interface. It’s an efficient way for doing content.
- the governance model should separate the ownership of the facts (distributed) and the ownership of the user experience (central). You must have good processes in place.
Mark Wyatt – OneWeb Programme Manager
Mark’s sessions focussed on what agile is, what it isn’t and how we will be using it as part of the OneWeb project.
Mark shared the five phases of an agile project (discovery, alpha, beta, live and retirement), what product backlogs, sprint backlogs and sprints are; and also shared a case study from the Environment Agency of outcomes and results of using an agile approach to their digital transformation project.
What we learned
- Agile is a methodology that is adaptive, emphasises collaboration, flexible, and encourages continuous improvement and high quality outcomes.
- Agile is not a marathon, but a series of sprints
- It will allow us to work openly and in a transparent way
User Needs 101
Katrina Dixon – OneWeb Content Strategist
In the User Needs 101 sessions, Katrina showed us how to create great content that works by starting with what our users need, and how this approach will work in the OneWeb project.
Thank you to everyone for your cooperation and understanding when fire alarms went off at the beginning of the morning session and delayed the start!
What we learned
- ‘User needs’ are the needs that a user has of a service, and which that service must satisfy for the user to get the right outcome for them. It’s been applied to many online services and products, including the award winning GOV.UK.
- The whole process should start with what and why. You should find out why the user wants to do something, and if there are better ways to solve that root problem
- Most of the time, we start with the solution, not the problem. Instead, the focus should be on the problem. User stories can help.
Are you listening? Are you really listening?
Rob Armstrong-Haworth – Higher Education Account Executive for Hootsuite, with Jonny Vaughan
Credit: Jonny Vaughan, Twitter: @sunsofsagan
Rob and Jonny showed us how using social media listening benefits student recruitment, staff engagement and student experience and that it’s time for universities to stop using social media as a megaphone – shouting messages out to applicants, students, and staff in a one-sided fashion.
What we learned
- “Vanity metrics”, while easy to measure, do not offer valuable insights into how your social activity is performing or whether you are meeting your objectives
- Good social listening doesn’t have to be complicated – it’s a question of looking for the right voices in the right places
- Social media is a two-way conversation – feedback from your audience comes in many forms, and should inform everything from your overarching social media strategy to how you create your content
- Visit our SharePoint site to get your copy of the UoS Social Media Handbook, as well as other useful tools
- Did you know we have a dedicated Slack forum for discussing all things social media at the University? Click here to join the conversation.
How organisations can learn about their users in an agile environment
Lee Duddell – UX Director for UserZoom, with Chris Lockhart
Credit: Linden McKenzie, Twitter: @LindenMcKenzie
Lee Duddell, talked about ‘How organisations can learn about their users in an Agile environment. Chris Lockhart, our Web Content Lead joined the conversations to give some extra context from our own website.
What we learned
- Enemies of UX – HIPPOs! (Highest Paid Persons Opinions), and how this can block and destroy good UX.
- What is good UX and what is bad UX research, e.g. just because you ask the user about their experience doesn’t mean you’re automatically adding value or improving it, you may even be making it worse by asking them a really long list of questions. They used a really good example of some live online surveys where the questions don’t really mean anything and one (Homebase) which had over 27 questions.
- Test, and test again – this talk really showed how easy it is to test and evidence your work and it’s ok to test again if what you thought doesn’t work out, it is part of the agile process to keep improving to get it right for the user and being able to evidence this and always bring it back to the data.
Credit: Ayala Gordon, Twitter: @AyalaGordon
It’s been a busy first festival. We had a wonderful time and once again, massive thanks to everyone involved. Have a look at #OneWebFestival if you missed the day, or if you need some light entertainment.
We hope to see you all again for the next OneWeb fest!