My thoughts on IWMW 2018

I have again been fortunate enough to attend the Institutional Web Management Workshop, also known as IWMW this year, along with colleagues from our team and others. IWMW is an opportunity to catch up with colleagues from across the sector and share our experiences on a number of fronts, most of which are all somewhat familiar! This results in the conference having a ‘group therapy’ effect.

Each year’s IWMW has a theme, and for 2018 it was “Streamlining Digital”.

Throughout this blog post I will be linking to the sketchnotes of the events by the very talented Kevin Mears from the University of South Wales. Kevin’s site also provides some very insightful reflections on the conference. I will be providing a set of links to the video recordings of the talks at the end of this post.

In previous years, there has been some concentration on technology at IWMW – whether it is how to harness social media, or implementing CMSes, and the like. This year there was a strong focus on content, and with it, the people who create and consume it.

One theme running through many talks was that of the impact of the pressures of our roles upon ourselves and our wellbeing. This resonated with many of us in the audience and I am encouraged that issues around mental health are being discussed in this way. Alison Kerwin from York and Andrew Millar from Dundee spoke very eloquently about this.

Those of us working in the knowledge economy in the information age are often afflicted by the tyranny of task interruption and invisible labour. Gareth Edwards from Greenwich (who will be hosting IWMW 2019) gave an excellent talk about the effects of this and how to counter-act them. This was another talk that particularly resonated with me.

Looking at the world of content, Dave Musson gave an engaging talk – ‘Don’t be content with average content’ – including how important it is for a University to have an identity via telling a story in order for people to gain awareness of what an institution stands for, and even that it exists, and creating a buzz about the institution.

Great content can only be powerful if it can be discovered. Chris Scott from Headscape and Jane Van de Ban from Birkbeck gave a fascinating case study about customer journey mapping, again including a number of things that resonated when thinking about our KentWeb transformation project. Linking back to the ‘what an institution stands for’, I had not realised until this talk that Birkbeck’s USP is evening courses.

Day 3 continued the content theme when Ayala Gordon of Southampton and Padma Gillen of Llibertat (and former Head of Content Design at GDS) spoke of user needs, content design and culture change. The biggest take-away for me of this talk is that if change is needed, nothing will change if organisational culture does not, irrespective of any other amazing work going on. The current publishing situation described by Ayala sounded very familiar, and was a key driver for us for the KentWeb project.

Following this was a segue into student recruitment/prospects management with CRM tools, presented by Megan MacFarlane and IWMW-famous Mike McConnell from Aberdeen. They took us through the suite of tools they use, and are hoping to use, to assist them through this process.

Keith McDonald previously of London and now of Greenwich, spoke to us about another prescient subject – content governance and streamlining content down to a functional minimum in order to get out of the way and do everything it can to help users achieve what they want to do.

Finishing off events, Jenni Taylor from Cardiff resurrected the Content King, nicely bookending the content theme for the conference. She lamented the ‘cult of the complex’ that can often be found in our industry, which can leave content – arguably the most important thing – languishing on the sidelines. Users want two things – content and inspiration.

So, there we have it for IWMW 2018. A fantastic conference, as it is every year. An opportunity to share war stories, empathise, understand, learn and support one another. Greenwich are hosting in 2019 and I look forward with interest as to what gems we will see there.

In the spirit of ‘content is King’, I am making a personal (and now public) vow to blog more often. I often find it difficult to write about what we are doing – but if all the speakers at this years event can stand up in front of 150 people in an auditorium, and countless others online, I think I ought to make the effort to pen a few words every so often. Let’s see how it goes…

Talks (including YouTube recording of each one):

Alison Kerwin’s talk (approximately 40 minutes).

Chris Scott and Jane Van de Ban’s talk (approximately 50 minutes).

External services panel discussion (approximately 90 minutes).

Gareth Edwards’ talk (approximately 30 minutes).

Andrew Miller’s talk (approximately 25 minutes).

Dave Musson’s talk (approximately 45 minutes).

Ayala Gordon and Padma Gillen’s talk (approximately 30 minutes).

Megan MacFarlane and Mike McConnell’s talk (approximately 30 minutes).

Keith McDonald’s talk (approximately 30 minutes).

Jenni Taylor’s talk (approximately 35 minutes).

Lightning talks (including one by yours truly).

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