Jan
28
2016

IGMM website strategy workshop

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on web strategy, that our User Experience Manager Neil Allison was delivering to a group of staff from IGMM, the University’s Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine.

The workshop, at IGMM‘s new building on the Western General Hospital campus, was initiated by their Communications Manager Sarah Patrick and for me, it was a great opportunity to see Neil work with a group of staff keen to improve and refine their website. The workshop used techniques and activities that while familiar – UWP have been running these kinds of objective-setting and prioritisation workshops for a long time – make a great deal more sense when you can see them applied in a practical context.

IGMM workshop

Neil presenting to IGMM staff at the workshop

Right people, right time

One of the most encouraging things that struck me about the workshop was how good a spread of staff across IGMM attended. There was not just representation but active engagement at all levels of and types of role within IGMM, including senior academics, researchers, communications, management and administrative staff. From experience, I know how crucial it is to involve and hear the views of all those involved in creating and maintaining a web presence at an early stage, to avoid costly changes and ensure a smoother ride for the development. The workshop activities’ format offers everyone the opportunity to contribute on an equal basis.

An enjoyable way to build consensus

Following an introductory presentation from Neil setting out the premise and objectives for the workshop, we took part in two activities. You can read Neil’s blog post about the presentation to get an overview of the approach and key points:

Neil’s blog post – How to get a grip of your website (and then keep hold)

The first activity focused on collaboratively identifying and prioritising the business objectives for IGMM. We worked in small mixed groups, using post-its to identify and then group and prioritise these in a meaningful and agreed way.

Workshop participants wrestling with prioritisation.

Workshop participants wrestling with prioritisation

Clear site objectives linked to the strategic goals of your School or unit give your online activity structure, focus and accountability. People know what it’s supposed to be doing and why and the precious time that we devote to the creation and maintenance of our website content can be better directed and prioritised.

Thanks again for the workshop yesterday – it was indeed very helpful and really set a strong direction for the development work ahead for IGMM.

Workshop participant

The second activity took a similar approach but this time focused on defining IGMM’s priority user groups. Knowing who a website is for and targeting content appropriately is again crucial to its success. Having representation from across the whole of IGMM present at the workshop meant there were plenty of people in the room to propose their thoughts on who these key audiences are. With plenty of ideas recorded, the second part of the activity was a collaborative exercise to group and prioritise audiences. Despite the numerous options proposed the key audiences were quickly agreed across the three small groups we worked in. Having preliminary agreement on who the website should focus on provides another tick on the progress chart to keeping the development on track.

At the end of the workshop there was a definite atmosphere of enthusiasm in the room. With a clearer understanding of the what and why people seemed inspired to get cracking on building on the conversation to turn the workshop outputs into SMART objectives for the website and to start reviewing their content with a renewed sense of focus and direction.

I certainly hope there will be more units that embrace the web development as IGMM have done, I’d not hesitate to recommend similar workshops for others.

Workshop participant

Tried and tested

As mentioned, UWP has lots of experience working in this way with groups around the University. We haven’t just conjured up this approach ourselves however; it’s based around tried and tested approaches and processes that have been successfully applied in many different types of organisation.

For those of you interested in finding out a bit more, a couple of good places to start would be:

  • Paul Boag’s digital strategy session workshops that UWP funded and ran in 2013 for over 100 colleagues across the University. Take a look at the slides from the session on the WPC wiki which summarise Paul’s workshops and go through how to use the techniques:

Web Publishers’ Community session, August 2013 wiki page (Requires EASE login)

  • the Gamestorming book which is all about collaborative tools and techniques for strategising and prioritising.

Gamestorming – promotional website for the book with lots of free resources

If you’re feeling inspired to start looked at your web content with a fresh approach, hopefully this post might give you what you need to get started with your colleagues, but we’re also here to help if you need us.

Get in touch to discuss a project

If you think your digital presence is in need of some attention, get in touch to explore how a workshop, some user research or an objective appraisal could help.

Contact the University Website Programme

Staff profiles – University Website Programme

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