School pilots

Pilot flying over San Francisco

We’re working with schools to test out content and prepare for our new website editor.

Earlier this year we launched a set of initial top-level pages based on our new website theme.

The next step has been exploring content from our academic schools.

Following on from the initial prototypes, we are now continuing with refining these concepts in preparation for Site Editor (the Dreamweaver replacement publishing system).


The purpose of the school pilot project is to:

  • validate the new website design with school content.
  • help formulate our patterns and templates for Site Editor.
  • make it easy for web editors to focus on content creation rather than development technicalities.
  • prepare for rolling out university sites.

We want to learn how our new design works in providing the content our customers need from schools, similar to the beta website, we launched for the top-level pages.

It is a chance to experiment with content ideas alongside our business stakeholders and help us to get ready for the next step: Site Editor.

We want to provide a framework that allows web editors to focus more on user-centred content creation and less on design/layout/development technicalities.

The intention is to benefit our customers who receive a unified user experience which extends to a better perception of the university.

Defining patterns and templates

As part of the project, we’ll be defining a range of page types that make it easier for web editors to create content.

The designs and patterns will be developed by the IS Web Teams.

We will be eventually moving to Site Editor which will use a templated approach. These templates will be created based on the school pilots and therefore the school pilots need to work within those designed templates.

The idea of a ‘template’ shouldn’t be scary, they will not be as restrictive as they sound! They will allow a broad range of exciting content configurations to present what is needed for the content.

Consistent patterns and templates provide many benefits:

  • A more cohesive university site which benefits all schools
  • More accessible content with simple layouts and design
  • A responsive/mobile-friendly site needs controlled templates as they are complex
  • Adhere web standards and stick to our UX/design principles
  • Consistent structure makes content more portable across different channels
  • Sticking to patterns is an efficient and cost-effective way of managing a large website (with fewer resources and funding this is necessary)
  • It’s more visually pleasing across a large site
  • It makes it easier for web editors to create and maintain content
  • It allows web editors to spend more time on content rather than design/technicalities

Based on analytics, we are defining a key set of pages to form the default navigation structure for schools:

  • Homepage
  • About
  • Undergraduate
  • Postgraduate
  • Research
  • Facilities
  • Staff profiles
  • News and events
  • Contact us

A lighter structure benefits both web editors and users making the site more manageable and maintainable. This will be extendable where required.

Focussing on content

As we remove the technical barriers of Dreamweaver, we’ll move towards a content-focussed approach.

To help support web editors, we’re developing a content guide which will be based on the outputs of the project.

This will provide a foundation in creating effective online content.

Imagery is a key aspect of the new design. Not every page requires bold imagery (although good imagery should be used in all cases).

For the limited ‘showcase’ pages, good, quality imagery is vital in achieving the design aesthetic. We are working on image guidelines.

We’re also planning to provide inline help in Site Editor based on our recent user testing.

Site Editor

Site Editor is a system to make it easy to create online content using our new web theme.

Once we’ve finished the school pilots, we’ll be able to define the various templates and patterns that Site Editor will use to create content.

What should I be doing now?

In the meantime, you can prepare your content by:

Next steps

We’re taking stock of where the pilot school sites are at the moment and will progress with Sport and Exercise Science as our first pilot to complete. We’re aiming for 18th September.

Following this we’ll then be working with KBS and Architecture to scope our timings, but hoping to have all pilots completed by the end of the 4th quarter.

We are working on Site Editor at the moment in parallel to the pilot schools as this work is helping to inform the Site Editor requirements.

We’ll keep you updated on our progress on this blog.

See also

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