UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Revisiting Event Amplification

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Oct 2018

“Amplifying Your Event: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How”

At next week’s ILI conference Alison McNab, Academic Librarian at the University of Huddersfield, will be giving a talk in a “Quick Win” session on “Amplifying your event: who, what, where, when, why and how“. In this lightning talk she will provide “practical tips on using social media to promote and amplify events”. The session “will be of particular interest to LIS professionals who are new to supporting events whether at a local level or as part of a professional network”.

As this is an area of particular interest to me I felt this would provide an opportunity to provide some reflections on the topic of event amplification.


The term ‘amplified event’ probably arose from a blog post published in July 2007 by Lorcan Dempsey in which he described how “It is interesting to watch how more conferences are amplifying their effect through a variety of network tools and collateral communications.” The post referred to initial observations of use at academic conferences of “pictures on Flickr, the presentations, podcasts, and, hey, there is even a Facebook group devoted to conference interests.

Early Examples

An early example of event amplification was described in a post on On-The-Fly Professional Development And Learning published in October 2008. Around the same time Owen Stevenson live-blogged at the ILI 2008 conference which included a post on Using Twitter to Live Blog ILI08 – some thoughts.

Back then discussions focussed on the various communications technologies which could be used to enrich the experiences at events, including pre-web communications technologies such as IRC (reviewing in a post on Micro-blogging At Events), microblogging tools such as Jaiku (no longer available) and Coveritlive (with archives of use of this tool from 2009 at the CILIP MmIT Conference 2009 – Mobile learning: what exactly is it? and the Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) 09 still available on the eFoundations Livewire web site).

In addition to the communications infrastructure at event there was also much experimentation with tools for resource sharing (with slides often shared on Slideshare and photos taken at events on Flickr, links typically shared using Delicious) and video recordings of talks on Vimeo) and dedicated social networking environments for events such as Crowdvine (no longer available).

There has been a lot of volatility in the marketplace for event amplification tools over the past ten years. However for communications Twitter continues to be widely used and some example of its use at ILI  conferences are given below.

Event Amplification at ILI Conference

Twitter Archives

I have made use of Twitter at many of the ILI conference I have attended over the past 10 years. In many cases it has been used in an informal way. However at ILI 2011 I created a couple of archives of event tweets in order to illustrate potential benefits. Then at the ILI 2013 conference I created archives of tweets for a workshop session which I facilitated with Tony Hirst. On both occasions Storify was used to creation the Twitter archives. The Storify service was subsequently withdrawn from service but as notice of the withdrawal of the service was given, I was able to migrate the data to the Wakelet service. A summary is given below.

Title of Archive About Purpose
ILI 2011: Reflections on the ILI 2011 conference Small number of tweets posted at the end of the event in which delegates summarise their thoughts on the conference. Illustrate how capturing a small number of tweets can help gauge an audience’s reflections. 12 tweets captured.
ILI 2011: Session A101 – What’s on the Technology Horizon? Session A101 (What’s on the Technology Horizon) at ILI 2011 conference (tagged with #ili2011 #a101). Delegates asked to tweet using session hashtag (#a101) to enable speaker (myself) to reflect on comments made after the event. 37 tweets captured.
ILI 2013: The Data Librarian An annotated summary of tweets about session B202: The Data Librarian. As chair of session I created this archive shortly after the session had finished. For this example annotated were provided to give a context for the 47 tweets.
ILI 2013: Future Technologies Workshop Tweets about the Future Technologies pre-ILI 2013 conference workshop facilitated by Brian Kelly and Tony Hirst As a workshop facilitator I encouraged delegates to use the #ili2013fut hashtag to share their thoughts. 38 tweets captured.
ILI 2013: The Conference Tweets A list of tweets containing the #ili2013 hashtag used for the ILI 2013 conference held in London on 15-16 October 2013. Example of an automated collection of tweets. 412 tweets captured.

Revisiting #ILI2009 and #ILI2010

Earlier this morning (Sunday 14 October 2018) the Timehop app on my Android phone alerted me to memories I had posted to various social network services on this day in the past. I was interested to see several tweets which I had posted at the ILI 2010 (23 tweets in total) and ILI 2009 (21 tweets in total) events. These reflect some of the early memories of ILI events captured on social media services but cannot easily be shared with others. With the 20th anniversary event started in a few days I tho89ght I would see what recollections of ILI events are readily accessible using Google.

No. Resource Notes
1 #ILI2009: The challenge of searching in Institutional Repositories Peter Murray-Rust’s thoughts, prior to his plenary talk at ILI 2009
2 Twitter | Karen Blakeman’s Blog Series of posts including one on “Tweets from the past
3 OxfordStaffDev | Staff Development at Oxford University Libraries Series of posts including one on Internet Librarian International, London, 15-16 October 2009
1 #ili2010 | Karen Blakeman’s Blog Two posts on use of social media in a corporate context and on social search
2 ili2010 | OUseful.Info, the blog. Two posts including one which analyses use of Twitter at the event
3 Transitioning Library and Information Service customers from consumers to collaborators – we still have a way to go.. | Elisabeth Goodman’s Blog Elisabeth Goodman’s report inspired by Dr Hazel Hall’s1 keynote presentation
4 Jinfo Blog: ILI 2010: the future lies in the cloud Penny Crossland’s report
5 Do libraries have a future? ILI2010 | Bethan’s information professional blog The script for Bethan Ruddock’s talk at ILI 2010 on “Do Libraries have a Future?”
6 Some musings post ILI2010 | FromMelbin “ILI2010 is now a week and hemisphere away, so here are a few thoughts it provoked from me”

Note the resources given in the table are based on reflections on the ILI events provided by delegates and found on the first page of results using Google searches for #ILI2009 and #ILI2010.

Summary of Benefits of Event Amplification

It’s probably fair to say that initially the interest in event amplification was focussed on technical aspects (which tools to use) and related issues (is the data interoperable; is the service sustainable) although other issues were considered (e.g. privacy and etiquette). As an example in 2010 there was a discussion about “‘Quiet Zone[s]’ At Conferences“. But nowadays use of mobile devices at conferences is ubiquitous and use of tools such as Twitter seems to be accepted.

I was recently invited by Librarians with Lives to contribute to a podcast about the #ILI 2018 conference. As described in the abstract for the podcastEpisode 1 features Kat Allen, Brian Kelly, Alison McNab and Helen Lippell. Kat, Brian and Alison have been involved with ILI for many years and they are ideally placed to introduce the conference, reflect on the changes and innovations that they’ve seen over the years, highlight their must-sees, and offer advice to delegates“.

I mentioned how use of Twitter at the event could be helpful in developing one’s professional networks. To expand on this I suggest that engagement with event amplification at the #ILI2018 event can provide the following benefits:

For Delegates
Use of Twitter can help make what can be a solitary experience at an event (especially for first-time attendees who don’t know many other delegates) into a shared experience. And tweeting during sessions can be an valuable way of collaborating on a shared resource which can be used when people subsequently write trip reports. The open nature of event tweeting can be useful for those who don’t understand a talk, as a tweet saying “I don’t understand this point” can be reinforced if others are having similar difficulties and then resolved by those who can provide explanations.
For Speakers
If there are many talks at a conference (as is the case at ILI) it can take a long time before any official feedback for your talk is available. But if you encourage delegates to tweet (and especially if you suggest a session-specific hashtag) you should be able to see what they said about your talk immediately afterwards (or even during your talk, if you are happy with such multitasking!)
For Event Organisers
As illustrated in the screen capture of tweets posted at the conclusion of the ILI 2011 event Twitter can be used to provide immediate feedback for an event.

Revisiting the post on “Emerging Best Practices for Using Storify For Archiving Event Tweets” and updating them in light of loss of some of the services mentioned (including Storify and Lanyrd) my suggestions for speakers and organisers of the ILI 2018 event are:

  • Assign an event hashtag and publicise it widely: Note the #ILI2018 tag has already been promoted
  • Create archive(s) of event tweets: In this case a Twubs archive of #ILI2018 was created on 14 October 2018. Note that since Twitter archiving services have proved to be volatile, it is recommended that an additional service is used. The Wakelet service is recommended.
  • Create a archive soon after the event finished: Twubs will collected tweets automatically, but other services may need manual curation of tweets (and this can provide benefits.
  • Encourage live tweeters who will tweet consistently through an event
  • Identify emerging best practices for live tweeting at events: Useful practices include:
    • Provide a meaningful summary of the event with appropriate links in advance
    • Announce participation at the event on the morning of the event in order that interested parties are made aware of the event and the event’s hashtag
    • Provide a timestamp and, ideally, a photograph at the start of each talk
    • It can be helpful to clearly signal the end of a talk and the event with an appropriate tweet (e.g. thanks speakers at the end of the event).

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My Participation at ILI Events

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 Oct 2018


The ILI (Internet Librarian International) conference is celebrating its 20th anniversary next week. In a recent post entitled The ILI Conference – Looking at the History I announced the availability of a search interface to all 20 ILI conference web sites which might be of interest to those with an interest in the growth and development of use of the Internet in libraries (including public and academic libraries) as revealed by sessions given at this high-profile international conference.

As a long-standing speaker at – and supporter of – the ILI conference I felt next week’s celebrations provides an opportunity for me to reflect on my involvement at the event.

It seems that I’ve given 35 talks at ILI conference and details of the talks, with links to the session abstracts and slides, given in the following table.




The first ILI conference, jointly badged with the LibTech conference, was held on 29-31 March 1999 at Olympia. London (with pre-conference workshop taking place on the Sunday, before the conference started).  My talk at this conference was on “New Standards on the Web” and described emerging new standards being developed by W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium), including XLink, XPointer and HTTP/NG.

I revisited my interest in standards at ILI 2003 with a talk on “HTML Is Dead! A Web Standards Update”  which suggested that HTML may be replaced by a new family of XML-based data formats such as SMIL, SVG and MathML with XHTML providing a migration to this new environment.

I suspect that many readers will not be familiar with standards such as SMIL, SVG and HTTP/NG – and these failed to have any impact at the time. A recognition for a more pragmatic approach to use of open standards in digital library development programmes was described at ILI 2005 in a talk on “Facing The Challenges Of A Standards-Based Approach To Web Development” which stated that “open standards may be difficult or expensive to deploy. Indeed open standards may even fail to gain widespread market acceptance.

My final talk on standards was given at ILI 2009. A talk on “Standards Are Like Sausages: Exploiting the Potential of Open Standards” provided examples of failed open standards, explored some of the reasons for such failures, described approaches which can help organisations to identify successful open standards and provided a framework to support the selection of solutions which may not make use of open standards (and back then proprietary applications such as Skype were frowned on by some when open standards such as VOIP and SIP were available).

Web Magazines

The early ILI conferences provided an opportunity to share UKOLN’s experience in providing the Ariadne e-jounal. A talk on “Electronic Magazines: Issues In Implementation” was given at ILI 2000 and at ILI 2001 I co-facilitated a half-day workshop on Publishing Web Magazines, e-Journals & Webzines with Bernadette Dally, the Ariadne editor at the time.

Mobile Devices

At ILI 2002 I gave  talk on New Devices And The Web. Interestingly. although the talk mentioned mobile phones and PDAs (remember devices such as the Palm?) the main focus on the talk was the mobile eBook reader.

Web Accessibility

My main research area of interest has been in web accessibility. At ILI 2003 I gave a talk which asked  “Web Site Accessibility: Too Difficult To Implement?“. At ILI 2005 I facilitated a half-day workshop with Lawrie Phipps on “Web Design: Usability, Accessibility and Interoperability“.

Web 2.0 and the Social Web

The ILI 2004 conference saw my first talk about the Social Web – and talks on this topic were given every subsequent year until 2010, with the exception of ILI 2008 when I was the event coincided with a conference I was speaking at at the National Library of Singapore.

At ILI 2005 in a talk on Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software I introduced some of the key applications of the social web and at ILI 2004 in a talk on Email Must Die! I argued that tools such as blogs and instant messaging services could provide advantages over email lists. The same year I highlighted some limitations of social web services in a talk which described Folksonomies – The Sceptic’s View.

At ILI 2006 I provided  Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis. The following year at ILI 2007 I gave a talk on  The Blogging Librarian: Avoiding Institutional Inertia and co-facilitated a half-day masterclass on Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library with Kara Jones.

After missing  ILI 2008 in 2009 I co-facilitated a workshop on Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library with Marieke Guy. Finally at ILI 2010 I co-facilitated a  workshop on Effective Use of the Social Web in Organisations with Ann Chapman.


By ILI 2011 my interests had moved on to evidence gathering and impact assessment and at that event I gave a talk on “Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact“. At ILI 2012 I gave a talk on “Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact

Predicting Trends

My most recent area of interest was in predicting trends. At ILI 2009 I took part in the final panel session at the event which review some of the “Top Technology Trends for Libraries and Information Professionals“. At ILI 2011 I gave a talk on “What’s on the Technology Horizon?“; at ILI 2012 a talk on “Making Sense of the Future” and at ILI 2015 a talk which asked “What are the Major Technology Trends that will Impact Library Services and their Users?“.

These talks were based on work of the Jisc-funded Jisc Observatory project which was provided by UKOLN and Cetis. A methodology for predicting trends was developed which was described in a paper on “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future“. The methodology was used at a number of workshops which were delivered at ILI conferences. At ILI 2013 I co-facilitated a full-day workshop on “Future Technologies and Their Applications” with Tony Hirst and at ILI 2015 , again with Tony, we ran a half-day workshop on “Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond


The ILI conferences provided a valuable forum for disseminating the Jisc-funded work I was involved with during my 17 years worked at UKOLN for my core activities of standards-related work, web accessibility and use of emerging web technologies together with additional project activities. It is interesting to look back at a significant part of one’s professional activities over an extended period of time.  And I must admit that I am looking forward to hearing Phil Bradley’s talk on “20 years in 20 minutes” which will conclude this year’s ILI conference.

The Data

No. Event Talk Notes
1 ILI 1999 / Libtech New Standards on the Web Talk in Session D4 – Update on Standards for Web Authoring
2 ILI 2000 Electronic Magazines: Issues In Implementation Talk in Session B-5 (note talk given by Brian Kelly and not Bernadette Daly)
3 Finding Resources On Your Web Site Talk in Session H4
4 ILI 2001 Beyond Design: Advertising on Your Web Site Talk in Session B203 – Top 10 Navigation Tips
5 WebWizards’ Roundtable Talk in Session B4: Webmasters’ Roundtable
6 Publishing Web Magazines, e-Journals & Webzines Half-day post conference workshop (with Marieke Napier)
7 ILI 2002 Benchmarking Of Library Web Sites Talk in Session B202: WEBWIZARDS’ SYMPOSIUM – Designing Sites That Work Well
8 New Devices And The Web Talk in Session Session B301 – New Devices and the Web
9 Building 21st Century Web Sites Talk given in Exhibition Hall
10 ILI 2003 Web Site Accessibility: Too Difficult To Implement? Talk given in Session B105
11 HTML Is Dead! A Web Standards Update Talk.
12 ILI 2004 Quality Assurance For Web Sites Half-day pre-conference Workshop 4: Quality Assurance for Web Sites
13 Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software Talk in Track B — Optimising Technology in Libraries
14 Panel Session – Optimising Technology in Libraries Talk in Track B — Optimising Technology in Libraries (panel discussion)
15 ILI 2005 A Holistic Approach To Web Usability, Accessibility And Interoperability Half-day pre-conference Workshop 4 — Web Design: Usability, Accessibility and Interoperability (with Lawrie Phipps)
16 Email Must Die! Talk in Session A101 – Digital Tools for Collaboration
17 Folksonomies – The Sceptic’s View Talk in Session B105: Folksonomies: Community Metadata?
18 Facing The Challenges Of A Standards-Based Approach To Web Development Talk in Session B203 – Using Open Standards and Open Source Software
19 ILI 2006 Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis Talk in Session A103 – Wikis and Social Software (note not included in programme)
20 Web 2.0 and Library 2.0: Addressing Institutional Barriers Talk in Session A101 – Setting the Stage for 2.0
21 ILI 2007 The Blogging Librarian: Avoiding Institutional Inertia Talk in Session A105 – Blogging Inertia and 2.0 Scepticism
22 Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library Half-day masterclass M3 — Using Blogs Effectively within Your Organisation (with Kara Jones)
23 ILI 2009 Using Blogs, Microblogs and Social Networks Effectively Within Your Library Half-day pre-conference workshop W5 – Using Blogs, Microblogs and Social Networks Effectively Within Your Library (with Marieke Guy)
24 Standards Are Like Sausages: Exploiting the Potential of Open Standards Talk in Session B105 – Open Standards
25 Reflections on the Library of the Future Talk in Session A201 – Reflections on the Library of the Future
26 Top Technology Trends for Libraries and Information Professionals Closing panel session on Top Technology Trends for Libraries and Information Professionals
27 ILI 2010 Effective Use of the Social Web in Organisations Half-day pre-conference workshop (with Ann Chapman)
28 Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact Talk in Session C102 – Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact
29 ILI 2011 What’s on the Technology Horizon? Talk in Session A101 – What’s on the Technology Horizon?
30 ILI 2012 What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories? Talk in Session B203 – Evidence and impact (with Jenny Delasalle)
31 Making Sense of the Future Talk in Session A101 – Future technology: stay ahead, stay agile
32 ILI 2013 Future Technologies and Their Applications Full-day pre-conference workshop (with Tony Hirst)
33 Digital Life Beyond the Institution Talk in Session A104 – Being smart with technology – creating something from nothing
34 ILI 2014 What are the Major Technology Trends that will Impact Library Services and their Users? Talk in Session B101 – Technology futures
35 ILI 2015 Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond Half-day pre-conference workshop (with Tony Hirst)


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The ILI Conference – Looking at the History

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Oct 2018

Since finishing work at UKOLN in July 2013 and at Cetis in May 2015 my professional activities have focussed primarily on organising the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) which, earlier this year, celebrated its 22nd anniversary.

Abstract for “Getting Better Search Results” session at ILI 2003

However I still maintain my interested in Web developments  and continue to engage with my many professional contacts. And I’m pleased to say that I will be keeping updated with web developments at the forthcoming ILI 2018 conference. Perhaps more importantly the event, which will be the 20th anniversary since the launch of the Internet Librarian International conference, will provide an opportunity to renew contact with members of the library community I have met over the years.

I’m particularly pleased to have been invited to chair the final talk at the event, in which Phil Bradley will “reflect on the key themes, ideas and innovations that have emerged over the past two days, surveys some of the innovations we have encountered over 20 years of ILI, and looks ahead to future challenges and opportunities for libraries and information professionals.”

I have known Phil for at least 15 years – and I can date this from viewing the abstract for Phil’s talk on “Getting Better Search Results” which he gave at the ILI 2003 conference on Tuesday 23 March 2003 (see programme in PDF format).

The web sites for most of the previous ILI conferences are still hosted online. Therefore using the Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE) it is possible to create a simple search interface to the previous conference web sites, as I have done. This interface is available at:

Use of the search interface is illustrated in which I have searched for information on my involvement with ILI events.

For those who might wish to build on this, or develop other services which could reveal information on the history of the ILI event, details of the previous conferences and locations of the web sites is given below.

Year Date Web Site
1999 29-31 Mar 1999
2000 20-22 Mar 2000
2001 26-28 Mar 2001
2002 18-20 Mar 2002
2003 25-27 Mar 2003 Not available
2004 10-12 Mar 2004
2005 10-11 Oct 2005
2006 16-17 Oct 2006
2007 16-17 Oct 2007
2008 16-17 Oct 2008
2009 15-16 Oct 2009
2010 14-15 Oct 2010
2011 27-28 Oct 2011
2012 30-31 Oct 2012
2013 15-16 Oct 2013
2014 21-22 Oct 2014
2015 20-21 Oct 2015
2016 18-19 Oct 2016
2017 17-18 Oct 2017
2018 16-17 Oct 2018

What Can the History of an Event Tell Us?

The IWMW (Institutional Web Management Workshop) celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006 celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006 celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006. The anniversary also marked the launch of the IWMW blog. The launch of the blog provided an opportunity for delegates to reflect on the event, the impact it had had over the years and the influence the talks and other sessions had provided. No fewer than 32 guest posts were published, including posts on the web management community (“Andrew Millar’s Reflections on Recent IWMW Events“), the influence the event had an career development (“What has IWMW done for me?” and “In 1999 I was a freshly fledged World Wide Web Coordinator”“), the changing nature of events in a networked environment (“Amplifying IWMW“)  and on a number of areas addressed at IWMW events (e.g. “The Portal is Dead. Long Live the Portal!“, “Looking Back at Web Accessibility Sessions“, “Beyond Your VLE: Strategic Challenges”  and “Web Security: More Important Than Ever“).

The authors of these posts were helped by the availability of all of the previous event web sites together with links to much of the content (mostly hosted on Slideshare) and to report on previous events, including reports posts on blogs, as well as aggregated collections of  Twitter posts.

Access to UCISA conference web sites, back to 2009

Access to ALT-C conference web sites, back to 2009

I hope that describing this approach may be of use to the ILI event organisers (perhaps for the 25 anniversary), as well as for organisers of other long-standing conference series such as UCISA conferences and ALT-C conferences.

Long-running events may therefore benefit from sharing of stories provided by delegates who have attended events over the years. The recollections will benefit from triggers such as event programmes, descriptions of themes, titles and abstracts of talks and speaker biographies. This provides good reasons for continued access to event web sites, as the ILI event organisers have done. However the maintenance of the content – and of links to the content – is not necessarily easy. For the UCISA Management Conference and ALT-C conferences links are provided only back to 2009, although the web site for the UCISA 2005 Management Conference and ALT-C 2003 Conference can still be found using Google.

An Opportunity for LIS Students?

But beyond recollections for event speakers and delegates, event web sites might also provide information for the wider community about the evolution of ideas relevant to the community (and, incidentally, when I found the ALT-C 2003 Conference web site I noticed a (broken) link to a text-only version of the web site (who remembers when providing such links was felt to provide accessibility benefits??)

So perhaps the access to 19 of the 20 ILI conference web sites might be of value to LIS students, who are likely to have an interest in the development of thinking in information management over the past two decades.

Creating the Google Custom Search Engine interface was a trivial task. However a meatier student project could perhaps make use of more sophisticated indexing tools to analyse the content provided over 20 years and the speaker profiles.

Might this be of interest to any LIS academics?

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Top 10 must visit conferences in Europe for digital professionals

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 Nov 2017

A  post was published on the IWMW blog a few days ago summarising “Other Events of Interest to the Web and Digital Management Community“. The purpose of the post was to “to identify ways in which we can improve future IWMW events [by] surveying similar events aimed at the web and digital communities“. The survey included the two main conferences for US web professionals working in the higher educations sector (HigEdWeb and Eduweb), UCISA and ALT-C conferences for IT and learning professionals in the UK higher education sector, together with the Jisc Digital Festival and the J.Boye conference, as well as one-day events organised by Universities UK and CIM.

The day after publishing the post I received a message which alerted me to a post on “Top 10 must visit conferences in Europe for digital professionals” which had been published a couple of weeks ago on the Buyer’s Guide to Web Projects. The posted listed the “Top 5 web design and development focused conferences in Europe” (Web Summit to be held in Finland; Awwwards conference to be held in Berlin; J. Boye Aarhus to be held in Aarhus, Denmark; the Generate conference to be held in London and UXDX to be held in Dublin ) followed by the “Top 5 web inspirational choices for web professionals” (Slush to be held in Helsinki; Tech Open Air to be held in Berlin; OFFF BarcelonaMobile UX London and Mind the Product London).

Following that list two further special recommendations were given which featured IWMW 2018 in first place!

The publication of this special recommendation is very timely, as we are currently finalising plans for the announcement of the call for submissions for the IWMW 2018 event.

The preparatory work for the call, which also covers the theme for next year’s event, is being carried out by one of the project teams which comprises members of the IWMW 2018 Advisory Group.

One aspect of the project team’s work is to gather feedback from the community on topics they would like to see covered at the event and on the format of the event. In order to gather such feedback an IWMW 2018 channel has been created on the HE-digital Slack group (note if you’ve no registered for this service you can do so using the HE Digital subscription interface).  We encourage you to join in the discussion!


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IWMW 2018 to be held at the University of York on 11-13 July 2018

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Oct 2017

The IWMW 2018 event will be held at the University of York on 11-13 July 2018. The event co-chairs, Brian Kelly and Claire Gibbons, are pleased to announce details of the event which next year will celebrate its 22nd anniversary.

The annual IWMW (Institutional Web Management Workshop) was established in 1997 and is the premiere event for those with responsibility for managing institutional web services and other digital channels in the UK’s higher education sector.

After being organised by UKOLN, a Jisc-funded organisation based at the University of Bath from 1997-2013, the event is now organised by Brian Kelly, the event founder, together with Claire Gibbons, who was also co-chair for the IWMW 2017 event. In order to ensure that the event addresses the needs of those working in institutional web and digital teams an Advisory Group will advise on the event content and structure.

The Advisory Group is currently working on the call for submissions for the event, which will be launched before Christmas.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about the IWMW 2018 please feel free to contact Brian Kelly, Claire Gibbons or a member of the IWMW 2018 Advisory Group.

Note the IWMW 2018 website is available at

Feel free to share this information with colleagues who may be interested in the event. Note that the hashtag for the event is #iwmw18

Brian Kelly and Claire Gibbons
IWMW 2018 co-chairs

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IWMW 2017 Deadline Approaching!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26 Jun 2017

Looking Back at IWMW 2016

The IWMW 2016 event was held in Liverpool just over a year ago. Write-ups about the event have been published on the University of St Andrews Digital Communications Team blogPlymouth University’s Create Digital blog; the TerminalFOUR blog and the University of Kent Web Development Team blog.  Since the University of Kent is hosting the forthcoming IWMW 2017 event it is appropriate to highlight their concluding remarks:

For me, the key takeaways from this event are that the landscape of the sector is evolving. Students have higher expectations and we need to be able to satisfy these. Data driven decisions are important – asking users what they need in terms of the web will give different answers to what they actually ‘do.’

Several sessions from this conference have given me food for thought and highlighted areas that our department needs to find out more about, especially in terms of what we are doing with social media, and how this can assist with the institutional strategy. It has also echoed areas that we are doing well; especially when it comes to agile and Lean UX principles

Looking back, the event was particularly memorable for me for a number of reasons: the 20th anniversary celebrations (and the various prizes which were donated over the 3 days); the conference dinner at the Merseyside Maritime Museum; revisiting my home town of Liverpool (and being a tourist on the open top bus after the event was over) but also for the positive vibes which were particularly noticeable during the final session. Indeed I remember my concluding remarks: “Have a good journey home – and if you haven’t voted, make sure you do so!” – the final day of the event was 23 June, the day of the EU referendum.

Looking Forward to IWMW 2017

We all know what happened that day, and I recall the shock I felt when I looked at my iPad at 6am the following morning, And the ramifications of Brexit continue to worry many working in higher education. Such concerns, and other challenges facing the sector, will underpin this year’s IWMW 2017 event which has the theme “It’s The End Of The Institution As We Know It (And We Feel Fine)“.  On the second and third days of the event plenary speakers will describe positive aspects of institutional digital activities which leaves them feeling fine about Governance Issues; Tools and Technologies; Understanding Our Users; Working With The Wider Community and The Core Community.  But I have to admit that I am particularly looking forward to the open session on the theme “The End of the World?” which opens with a talk by Bonnie Ferguson, University of Kent on “The UK’s European University in a Time of Brexit” and is followed by Andrew Millar, University of Dundee on “Having a Good order zithromax Crisis…and Not Wasting It“.

In addition to the plenary talks the event also hosts a wide range of workshop sessions and master classes – indeed, as can be seen from the figures given in a post on Overview of Speakers at IWMW Events this year will feature the largest number of speakers since the event was launched 21 years ago!

One of the changes for IWMW 2017 is that we have revived the notion of the event co-chair.  Marieke Guy was co-chair for several years when the event was organised by UKOLN. After the re-launch of the event in 2014 this year it was felt that the event would benefit from fresh insight into the event organisation, as well as helping to ensure the sustainability of the event. Claire Gibbons, former Senior Web and Content Manager at the University of Bradford, is the IWMW 2017 co-chair and also co-chair of the IWMW 2017 advisory group.  As well as working with event sponsors Claire also has responsibility for the events social programme. And as Claire has described in ta recent blog post on Social Activities at IWMW 2017:

This year we have decided to break with tradition and hold two social events based around an evening meal. On the opening night we will have a conference dinner in Rutherford Dining Hall, where delegates will be encouraged to sit with people they don’t know, and work together to complete a quiz, with prizes for the winners.

On the second evening we will have a barbeque, which will feature further opportunities for delegates to mix with each other through a series of activities designed to get everyone chatting, and mingling, and to increase their own professional networks – and there may more healthy competition thrown in for good measure. The barbeque will be held early in the evening, giving everyone the opportunity to explore the campus or town under their own steam later on, should they wish to.

IWMW 2017 Deadline is Fast Approaching!

We hope the IWMW 2017 event will appeal to those who work in institutional web and digital teams or those who have wider interests in the use of online technologies in higher education. If you’d like to read more about the event the following blog posts are available:

The event will be held at the University of Kent on 11-13 July and costs £400 for 3 days, which includes 2 nights’ accommodation, meals and social events.

Online booking is availablebut please note that the closing date is Friday 1 July. Book soon!

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Host Institutions for IWMW Participants (and a Survey for Non-Participants!)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 Jun 2017

About This Post

Individually we are strong. Together we are stronger.

Recent IWMW events have attracted participation from across the length and breadth of mainland UK. But not all institutions are represented at the event, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, which was established 21 years ago to support those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and, in recent years, has extended its remit to cover digital services beyond web sites.

This blog post introduces a survey which aims to address those who do not attend IWMW events in order to discover the reasons for this – the survey is available at the URL .  Surveying non-attendees at an event is clearly not easy – how do we find these people? We hope that IWMW attendees will be willing to share information about the survey – and to incentivise completion of the survey those who complete the form will be entered into a draw for a small gift.


A recent post on Profiling Speakers and Facilitators at IWMW 2017 described the range of speakers and workshop facilitators at the forthcoming IWMW 2017 event. We seem to have achieved our goal of encouraging speakers from a wide range of institutions, attracting new speakers and encouraging participation from female members of the community. As can be seen from the speaker list on the IWMW 2017 web site there are :

  • 19 plenary speakers; 15 workshop facilitators and 12 master class facilitators.
  • 6 session chairs
  • A total of 42 individual speakers, facilitators or session chairs.
  • 12 female (20%) speakers, facilitators or session chairs and 30 males (80%), including 6 female (32%) plenary speakers.
  • 25 who currently work at a higher education institution; 4 who work for a higher education agency; 10 who work for a company and 3 who are individual consultants.
  • Of the 14 plenary speakers who work at a university 10 are first-time speakers at the event, which includes 4 who are also first-time attendees at an IWMW event.

The post concluded by saying:

there are only a limited number of speaking slots available at IWMW events, so we will not be able to provide too great a geographical diversity of speakers. There are, of course, many more places for delegates at IWMW events and this is where we are seeking to ensure that members of web management teams across the community are aware of the event and willing to attend – and if they do not wish to attend we want to understand the reasons for this. This will be explored in a forthcoming blog post.

This post looks at the host institutions for participants from the higher education sector at IWMW events in 2015, 2016 and 2017 (to date).

Host Institutions for Participants from the Higher Education Sector

Attendee data for IWMW 2015 and IWMW 2016 together with the current bookings for IWMW 2017 has been analysed in order to determine the location of the host institution for delegates who work at a higher education institution.

It seems that so far delegates from about 60 institutions have attended events in recent years or will attend this year’s event.

A Google Map of the locations is available and is illustrated. As can be seen participants from across England and Scotland have attended recent IWMW events, although there have been none from the two institutions in Northern Ireland and only two Welsh institutions are represented.

Growing The Community

The mission statement of the Midlands Innovation group is “Individually we are strong. Together we are stronger.” This could apply equally to many groups within the higher education sector – and particularly at a time in which the sector is facing many significant challenges (I am writing this post on the morning of the general election!(.

The IWMW event was established in 1997 to foster collaboration and sharing and continues to emphasise the importance of the community.  It is pleasing to see that attendance at the event spans the length and breadth of mainland UK and is not restricted to those located near to the recent events (IWMW 2015 and 2016 were held in Edge Hill University and Liverpool John Moores University) and IWMW 2017 will be held at the University of Kent. But what barriers may there be to engaging with the community and learning from one’s peers? Such barriers could include:

  • Financial barriers to attending events
  • Topics covered at events are not relevant
  • Length of the event
  • Location of the event
  • Time of event
  • Lack of management support
  • Preference for other events
  • Preference for online events
  • Use of online community tools (e.g. Jiscmail and HE-digital Slack channel, announced in February 2017)
  • Belief that we in competition with other institutions
  • Other reasons

In order to explore reasons for non-participation in IWMW events an online survey form has been created. The form also explores interests for other ways of community working such as regional groups (described by Duncan Ireland in a blog post on “The Life and Times of the Scottish Web Folk Regional Group“) and alternatives to IWMW events, such as commercial events. The survey is available at the URL – feel free to share this URL with others.

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Profiling Speakers and Facilitators at IWMW 2017

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 Jun 2017


There are over 40 speakers and workshop facilitators at the forthcoming IWMW 2017 event. But what are the characteristics of the people willing to stand up in public and share their thoughts on best practices for providing institutional web services and other large-scale digital channels?

As can be seen from the speaker list on the IWMW 2017 web site there are currently:

  • 19 plenary speakers; 15 workshop facilitators and 12 master class facilitators.
  • 6 session chairs
  • A total of 42 individual speakers, facilitators or session chairs.
  • 12 female (20%) speakers, facilitators or session chairs and 30 males (80%), including 6 female (32%) plenary speakers.
  • 25 who currently work at a higher education institution; 4 who work for a higher education agency; 10 who work for a company and 3 who are individual consultants.
  • Of the 14 plenary speakers who work at a university 10 are first-time speakers at the event, which includes 4 who are also first-time attendees at an IWMW event.

Speaker Profiles on Lanyrd

Information about the speakers and facilitators is also available on the speaker list of the Lanyrd page for the IWMW 2017 event. Note that due to technical problems with the Lanyrd site this information has not yet been finalised. However this speaker list provides a number of additional benefits as speakers can choose to make use of the social aspect of the Lanyrd service to provide details of other events they have spoken at or participated in.

Use of a speaker identifier (their LinkedIn or Twitter profile) also enables it to be possible to identify speaker communities (groups who may speak at the same events). An example can be seen below which is taken from the speaker profile for Rich Prowse, Head of Digital at the University of Bath and a member of the IWMW 2017 advisory group.

As can be seen if you are impressed by a speaker you can view their forthcoming speaking appearances; their profiles on services such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.; their previous events and details of previous talks, including slide shows, write-ups and video recordings. This service can be useful in helping to build a network of one’s peers.

Location of Speakers

The location of the host institution of the speakers and workshop facilitators is available on Google Maps for those who are based at a higher educational institution. As can be seen the speakers are:

  • From across England, Scotland and Wales
  • From the University of Dundee in the north; the University of Southampton in the south, Cardiff University in the east and the University of Kent in the south

Developing the Range of Speakers and Facilitators

The IWMW event was launched in 1997 and from that date until 2013 was held annually as a core-funded delivery by UKOLN, a national centre of expertise in digital information management based at the University of Bath. UKOLN was funded by the Jisc and the core funding required UKOLN to ensure that the event was aligned with the interests of Jisc’s Future team.

Following Jisc’s cessation of funding for UKOLN the event was re-launched in 2014 we have sought to align the event more closely with the needs of those with responsibilities for providing institutional web and related digital services, with regular online meetings being held with members of the IWMW 2017 advisory group. In addition to identifying key areas to be addressed at the event we have sought to encourage active participation widely across the sector and encourage new speakers at the event. We have also tried to avoid organising yet another technical event which consists of largely men-only speakers. We feel that we have largely succeeded in achieving those goals. We appreciate that there is a need to continually monitor the profile of the speaker community at IWMW events, so we intend to carry out such analyses for future IWMW events.

However there are only a limited number of speaking slots available at IWMW events, so we will not be able to provide too great a geographical diversity of speakers. There are, of course, many more places for delegates at IWMW events and this is where we are seeking to ensure that members of web management teams across the community are aware of the event and willing to attend – and if they do not wish to attend we want to understand the reasons for this. This will be explored in a forthcoming blog post.

Note: This post was originally published on the IWMW blog on 7 June 2017.

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IWMW 2017: The Workshops and Master Classes

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 May 2017

IWMW 2017

A recent post published on this blog summarised the plenary sessions at the IWMW 2017 event which will be held at the University of Kent on 11-13 July. The theme of this year’s event, the 21st Institutional Web Management Workshop event, is “It’s The End Of The Institution As We Know It (And We Feel Fine)“.

The Plenary Talks

The plenary talks provide an opportunity to hear about how institutions are responding to the significant challenges currently facing the higher education sector (in the opening session on “The End Of The World?“); learning from how institutions are addressing governance issues (in the session on “We Feel Fine (Governance Issues)“) and from the development of tools and use of technologies (in the session on “We Feel Fine (Tools and Technologies)“); the importance of understanding our user experiences (in the session on “We Feel Fine (Understanding Our Users)“); working with organisations from beyond the HE community (in the session on “We Feel Fine (Working With The Wider Sector) ” and, in the final session on “We Feel Fine (The Core Community)” revising approaches to support the core communities of academics, students and web providers.

However those who find active participation in events a more effective way of learning new professional development skills and consolidating existing practices will appreciate the workshop sessions and master classes at the event.

Workshop Sessions

There will be a total of 12 workshop sessions, which will last for 90 minutes. Participants will be able to attend one of the workshop sessions.

Six of the workshops cover core activities for those providing web and other digital services including User Testing – A Toolkit; Creat[ing] Effective Content Quickly With Pair Writing; Making Web and Digital Work For Your Students; A Practical Guide to How We Built a Self-Documenting Digital how to buy antibiotics in japan Pattern Library; Reviving the University of Kent Online Brand and Web 101.

Another three of the workshops cover new areas and innovative technologies: Marketing Open Research: Social Media and Quantitative Metrics; The Sixty Minute (Data Dashboard) Makeover – in 1 hour 30 minutes! and Open Campus – Using Virtual Tours to Engage With ALL Your Audiences.

Finally three workshops provide opportunities for learning from the wider community with sessions facilitated by those who work outside higher educational institutions: EA (Enterprise Architecture) in an Agile Context; Data: The Most Untapped Resource in your Student Retention Strategy and How To Be A Productivity Ninja.

Master Classes

The master classes were introduced at IWMW 2015 and, due to popular demand, were repeated at IWMW 2016. The master classes provide additional time to address a subject area of relevance to those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and other digital channels. This year there will be a total of 9 master classes, which will last for 2.5 hours. Participants will be able to attend one of the master class sessions.

The titles of this year’s master classes are:

Booking Your Place

Attendance at the IWMW 2017 event costs £400 which includes two night’s accommodation, attendance at talks and parallel sessions, the conference dinner, a social event and teas and coffees. Please visit the registration page to book your place.

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IWMW 2017 Open For Bookings

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Apr 2017

A recent post announced that the “IWMW 2017 Programme [was] Available“. The post described how “IWMW 2017, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at the University of Kent on 11-13 July. This year’s theme is “It’s The End Of The Institution As We Know It (And We Feel Fine)“.  The post went on to summarise the various sessions which will address this theme.

I’m pleased to announce that online bookings for the event are now open.

The cost of the event is £400, which includes full attendance at the event, accommodation for 2 nights, conference materials, refreshments and lunch, workshop dinner and social events. The costs for attendance without accommodation is £315.

Please visit the registration page for details on how to book a place at this event.


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IWMW 2017 Programme Available

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Apr 2017

I am pleased to announce that the programme for the IWMW 2017 event is now available.

IWMW 2017, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at the University of Kent on 11-13 July. This year’s theme is “It’s The End Of The Institution As We Know It (And We Feel Fine)“. The plenary talks address the theme:

The End Of The World?: The opening afternoon consists of two plenary talks which address the challenges institutions currently face.

We Feel Fine (Governance Issues): The first morning session on the second day describes how institutions are addressing challenges through governance issues.

We Feel Fine (Tools and Technologies): The second morning session on the second day summarises tools and technologies being used to support large-scale institutional web services.<!–

We Feel Fine (Understanding Our Users): The afternoon topamax session on the second day explores how institutions can understanding the real student experience.

We Feel Fine (Working With The Wider Sector): The first morning session on the third day provides insights from the wider community.

We Feel Fine (The Core Community): The final session looks at the core communities we serve: staff and students and those those responsible for supporting those communities.

In addition to the plenary talks there are 12 workshop sessions on the first day and 9 master classes on the second day.

The cost of the event is £400, which includes full attendance at the event, accommodation for 2 nights, conference materials, refreshments and lunch, workshop dinner and social events. The cost for attendance without accommodation is £315.

Online registration for the event will be opened shortly is now open.

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The uwebd Online Community

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Feb 2017

In December 2009 the <uwebd/> Ning network was created by Mark Greenfield “as an experiment to see if web 2.0 technologies could be utilized to create a community for [US] higher education web professionals.” The network grew steadily over the years and by September 2016 had over 4,800 members.

However in September 2016 I received an email from Mark Greenfield which said:

Activity on the site peaked in the early years but has declined as new social media tools have become available. That being said, the site is still fairly active with 16,000 unique visitors to the site two years ago and 10,000 in the past year. (This compares to 85,000+ annual users in the early years)

Ning has recently increased their prices substantially and I need to make a decision about the future of this site. I have not actively managed or promoted this site for the past several years other than approving new members and monitoring content. I am willing to put the time and effort into revitalizing and improving this site if there is sufficient interest in the community.

Looking back over the history of this site, the decline in activity can be directly attributed to the growth of Twitter. For me personally, I now find Twitter to be of limited value for professional development. It seems that professional conversations are happening on a variety of platforms including LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, Twitter, etc. and there may be an opportunity to rethink how we can use the uwebd site as a platform for higher education web professionals to connect and collaborate.

Following a discussion on a post entitled “the future of the uwebd social network” on 6 February 2017 Mark published a post entitled “The UWEBD Social Network Will Live On” in which he announced that:

I am happy to announce that the uwebd social network will live on thanks to our friends at OmniUpdate. OmniUpdate is a major supporter of collaboration and knowledge sharing within the higher ed community and is pleased to continue their sponsorship of the uwebd site.  And for a limited time you can still get a free uwebd mug by clicking on the graphic on the home page.

Moving forward, I will be making some changes to the site. If there are new features you would like to see, old features we should remove, or sites and social media channels we should syndicate, please let me know by responding in the comments below.

Thanks again to OmniUpdate for their sponsorship.

The home page for the <uwebd/> is illustrated. As can be seen there is a discussion forum together with various groups and blogs.

This must surely be of interest to the UK Web management community in the UK higher education community, I thought. Since the mid 1990s the web-support and website-info-mgt Jiscmail lists have been available for the community but, as described back in June 2010 in a blog post entitled “The Decline in JISCMail Use Across the Web Management Community” use of these lists has been in decline since the early 2000s. Last year, as can be seen from the data of the number of posts to these two lists, there were 27 posts to the web-support list and 122 to website-info-mgt, significantly down from 2,542 messages to web-support in 2002 and 568 to website-info-mgt in 2001.

Might it be time to make use of the <uwebd/> community, I wonder? .The community is intended for University web developers and there are likely to be sufficient areas of interest for those based in the UK to make the community worth considering.

However I should add a note of caution. There have been 156 posted published on the community blog but the last one was posted in March 2015. Similarly the list of groups suggests lack of activity since 2015 as can be seen from the image sorted by most active groups.

But Mark Greenfield (who, I should add, has commented on this blog) has pointed out that:

I will be making some changes to the site. If there are new features you would like to see, old features we should remove, or sites and social media channels we should syndicate, please let me know

Might a group on <uwebd/> aimed at the UK higher education web management community be of value, I wonder? Let me know what you think.

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CILIP West Midlands Annual Members Day 2017

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 Feb 2017

On Friday 10 February 2017 I gave an hour-long invited talk on “Predicting and Preparing For Emerging Learning Technologies” at the CILIP West Midlands Annual Members Day event which was held at the Priory Rooms Meeting and Conference Centre in Birmingham.

The talk described a methodology which can be used for helping to predict future technology trends and support planning for the deployment of relevant trends. The methodology, which is based on the approaches used by the NMC (New Media Consortium) in the production of their Horizon trend-spotting reports and was used by the Jisc Observatory project, has been used in a number of workshops including:

Since the slides for the talk (and the other workshops) are available on Slideshare and embedded below I will not attempt to summarise the talk in this post. Rather I will provide a number of observations from the event:

  • The Priory Rooms Meeting and Conference Centre at the Quaker Meeting House in Birmingham is an excellent venue for meetings. I was also told that the cost for hire of the facilities is very reasonable.
  • The take-up of smart mobile devices at such events has increased significantly since I last gave talks for the library sector.
  • In the shortened Delphi session used during the talk the attendees highlighted ‘Reference Apps’ as the most important technology for attendees which will be significant in the short term and ‘User Expectations’ as the most important driver of technology uptake in the medium term. Addressing the implications of ‘fake news’ was identified as a ‘wicked’ challenge; staff developments issues as a solvable problem and Brexit as a difficult challenge.
  • Take-up of tweeting at such library events is becoming more widely accepted. However, as suggested by Cara Clarke’s tweet not all delegates at the event who owned a smart mobile device were using Twitter.
  • Event organisers may find it helpful to suggest a format for personalising short URLs which link to speakers’ slides, such as the and links used by myself and Sarah Purcell.
  • Since the word ‘CILIP’ is unusual it has value in helping members of the library community to spot events and resources which may be relevant to them. The word ‘cilip’ may be particularly useful if  used in tags, links, etc. I made the suggestion that ‘#cilipwmamd17′ (or #cilipwmmd17’) might have been a better hashtag for the event than ‘#MembersDay17′ as CILIP members who spotted the former hashtag in their stream would have been able to identify it as potentially relevant. In contrast, #membersday17’ struck me as sounding somewhat pornographic!
  • If an event hashtag is popular and ‘trends’, it may attract spam messages as happened on Friday (so the ‘#MembersDay17’ hashtag did have some value!
  • Events such as the CILIP West Midlands Annual Members Day provide a valuable opportunity for sharing knowledge and learning with one’s peers, as opposed to passively listening to experts.
  • I noticed that all of the speakers at the event had a Twitter account: (a) Ayub Khan: @ayubkhan786; Alex Fenlon: @afenoer; Sarah Purcell: @Sarahbrarian and myself: @briankelly
  • It can be helpful to archive tweets at an amplified event for a number of reasons including (a) to help those who may be writing reports on the event; (b) for speakers to see comments made for their talk and (c) to gather evidence of the value of such event amplification. I created an archive using the free version of Tweetarchivist which provides various statistics including details of the top three Twitterers at the event: @libmichelle (19 tweets); @CILIPWM (12 tweets) and @CaraClarke (8 tweets) – so you’ll know who to follow if you wish to learn more about amplified library events!
  • In addition to aggregation of all event tweets, speakers may find it useful to archive tweets related to their talk. For example I used Storify to aggregate tweets related to my talk.
  • Details of CILIP’s “Facts matter” campaign were announced at lunchtime at the event, with the importance of information professionals facilitating access to facts in a ‘post-truth’ environment being acknowledged. However there is a need to be aware that facts can highlight organisational deficiencies – and in the case of CILIP is appears that the CILIP membership numbers have declined every year since the organisation was established in 2002, from 23,000 to 12,350 in 2016 – a decline of 50% in 14 years. As can be seen from the graphs of membership numbers this decline is linear which would suggest that CILIP will cease to exist in 2030!

I’d like to conclude by sharing Ayub Khan’s tweet about the event: “Great turnout @ West Midlands colleagues from varied sectors sharing and learning together. Great event.

Note the slides I used in the talk are available on Slideshare and embedded below:


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IWMW 2017: Call for Submissions Now Open!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26 Jan 2017

I am pleased to announce that the call for submissions for the IWMW 2017 event is now open.

The IWMW 2017 event will be held at the University of Kent on 11-13 July 2017. This year’s event is the 21st in the series, which was founded in 1997. This event is the longest-running event for university web teams around the world!

The theme of this year’s event is “It’s The End Of The Institution As We Know It (And We Feel Fine)“. The background to this theme is given below.

Today’s political and funding environment are adding additional challenges to the higher education community. In addition to the funding crisis dating back to 2008 institutions are now preparing for the implications of Brexit, further restriction on immigration and possible loss of EU sources of funding. “It’s the end of the institutions as we know it” we may feel.

And yet the higher education community has a well-established tradition of community and sharing and this is particularly true for those with responsibilities for delivering large-scale digital services, with the past 20 years of IWMW generic zithromax events providing valuable opportunities for sharing best practices, identifying technical innovations and organisational changes and learning from mistakes.

This year’s event will provide an opportunity to hear about significant changes and how institutions are responding to such changes. In addition sessions will cover best practices and institutional case studies.

The Call for Submissions provides further information about the submission process.

Note that as well as submissions for those working in institutional web and digital teams, we also welcome submissions from those who are involved in institutional strategies and planning where this will affect the provision of digital services.

We also welcome submissions from members of user communities, including students and researchers.

The call for submissions will remain open until 1 March 2017. However we encourage early submissions in order that we can spot any gaps in the range of topics submitted.

If you would like to discuss a possible submission feel free to contact Brian Kelly or Claire Gibbons, the IWMW 2017 co-chairs, or a member of the IWMW 2017 advisory group.

Note this post was originally published on the IWMW blog.

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The 10th Anniversary of the UK Web Focus Blog

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 Nov 2016

The UK Web Focus blog was launched on 1st November 2006 so today sees its 10th anniversary!

ukwebfocus-blog-first-anniversaryI suspect there will only be a handful of blogs which have been in operation within the UK educational technology over this period: Tony Hurst’s OUSeful blog is one that springs to mind (although posts prior to 24 July 2008 seem to have been lost); Martin Weller’s Edtechie blog seems to have been launched around May 2006 with Steve Wheeller’s Learning with E’s blog having being launched around December 2006 (note for all of these blogs I haven’t been able to find a post announcing the launch of the blog, so they may be older than this).

The edtech environment has seen many changes over the past 10 years, of course not only due to technological developments (in particular the mobile environment and the social web) but the impact of political and funding changes – with the fall-out of the Brexit referendum still to be fully felt.

Blogs which have been published over that period can provide a useful record of the changes in the environment. On this anniversary of this blog I will provide some links which have sought to document developments described on this blog.

I was aware from the start of the importance of blogs as an historical record, rather than simply transient reflections. I therefore published a series of posts on anniversaries of the launch of the blog during the time I was employed at UKOLN:

On 31 July 2013 I ceased work at UKOLN due to the cessation of Jisc funding. In order to continue a tradition of documenting my professional environment in my final week at UKOLN I published a series of posts on Reflections of 16 years at UKOLN (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5).

The blog continued to be published after leaving UKOLN (incidentally Friday marked the 20th anniversary of starting work at UKOLN so this blog provides a useful summary of a significant proportion of my time advising the UK’s higher educations sector on web developments). During the transition from UKOLN to initially working at Cetis and then as an independent consultant the blog was migrated from to Much less time was spent on writing blog posts as I no longer had responsibilities for advising the sector. However occasional posts are still published, with the focus now on supporting the annual IWMW event (the Institutional Web Management Workshop which also celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year), and my continued interests in digital preservation, use of Cloud services and continued use of online services after leaving one’s host institution (an area which I feel will grow in importance once the higher education sector feels the full impact of Brexit :-)

I hope to revisit these areas in subsequent posts.

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Planning For IWMW 2017 (comments from #IWMW16)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Oct 2016

About This Post

Having established the IWMW event series 20 years ago I am very aware of the importance of event evaluation, which can help to identify successful aspects of an event, areas which can be improved and how the event can be shaped for future years. This latter aspect is particularly important in the rapidly changing environment of university web management: just as we are coming to terms with the impact of austerity measures we now have to make plans for the implications of #brexit :-(

Since the IWMW event series prides itself on the importance of community, a series of blog posts have been published which summarise the feedback received for the IWMW 2016 event, the 20th in the series of institutional web management workshops. These posts have covered:

As this series of blog posts reaches an end today we summarise the feedback received on plans for next year’s event.

Planning For IWMW 2017

The online evaluation form for the IWMW 2016 event invited feedback for the following issues:

  • Suggestions for the content at IWMW 2017
  • Suggestions for the format of IWMW 2017
  • Topics would you like to see covered at IWMW 2017?

The following responses were received.

Suggestions for the content at IWMW 2017:

  • One problem our university has is not so much content sprawl as systems sprawl. We buy lots of e-services. Most of these have overlapping functionalities (as smaller institutions buy only one or two systems, they often request developments that replicate things other products do). So, for example, we have an in-house developed student portal, an employability portal, a second employability portal within the employability portal, Blackboard (a learning portal), a student records portal, soon a CRM system with portal-like capabilities, and library course-specific portals. Our user experience for students is a confusing mess if they don’t know what’s where, and which system to use. How can we combat this sprawl?
  • I’d like to explore how other institutions are structured – a lot of people I spoke to at the conference do ‘web stuff’ but not within the IT department. I’d also like to see how other web development teams work – people are bored of the ‘agile’ buzzword, and more people seem to be using kanban and trello but it’d be good for this to be covered at next year’s event.
  • Case studies are always good and welcomed. I think there needs to be a good balance between high level talks, and more practical things as well. I tried to speak to quite a few people during the event on what they thought, and many wondered if doing things like lightening talks might help cram more in, but encourage others to take part and demonstrate things they are involved in
  • Martin Hawksey driven, partnered with a non-google expert, case study
  • One or two plenary speakers from outside HE
  • UX, digital strategy, content strategy, user engagement
  • I’m sorry I don’t have time to fill out a lot of this!
  • What one thing would improve my website? Do students still want a website?
  • As mentioned, would be good to hear from people working in web management outside of the HE sector.
  • Already made suggestions
  • What are people doing after they have been digital transformed?! What worked, what didn’t, what didn’t make any difference and why?
  • Ethnographic UX research techniques explored/experiences shared etc. Content and support for current students and staff as a way to strengthen reputation and brand.
  • Perhaps more focus on website content? There wasn’t much mention of it in the talks, and only a couple of masterclasses. It felt like the majority of talks were focused on the digital team’s journey, or transformation. (Which is fine as it linked to the overall theme of IWMW 16 – however, content plays a major role in this).
  • – dev and content track
  • Thought this year was a good balance. Personally would like a few more technical talks, but can completely understand that not everyone would want that.
  • Web Content Management Customer Experience Management Quality Assurance / Digital Governance / Content Audit Stakeholder management Building a business case Writing for Web Usability / UX Leadership Brand Mobile Analytics How to select a CMS How to select a service provider
  • Keep doing what you’re doing. Up to date, industry specific discussions and presentations.
  • More diverse range of speakers, a mixture of topics, and more people from outside HE (or agencies working with HE) if feasible.
  • Shorter workshops — that Wednesday one was a killer. I felt like I was stuck for hours.
  • More of the same! Personalisation approaches (and data protection) will remain very topical. Something on the legal side / regulation? How do people approach T&Cs, privacy policies etc? How can we avoid the six pages of legalese that no-one reads?
  • Something on content/editorial/managing devolved editorial workflows would be good.
  • More hands on, tactical advice. What tools people use, how to get the best out of products. For example, we use Funnelback, and it frustrates me that we’re probably under using it’s features.
  • More case studies from across HE re: digital transformation and change. Vendor/agency and HEI mix-ups buy antibiotics online from mexico work well Would be good to have a ‘very inspiring’ keynote from outside of the sector to get the juices flowing Given what is happening to HE right now (restructures, cuts etc) who knows what we might need to cover next year!

Suggestions for the format of IWMW 2017

  • More of it. (3-4 days).
  • 4 days instead of 3 – shorter days, 10-4 is my suggestion. Coffee breaks can be 15mins, a full 30mins is not necessary.
  • I think the masterclass is a bit too long, so perhaps shortening that down a bit and running things more than once would give people a chance to get involved in more.
  • Broadly the format works for me. The devil, as ever, is in the detail.
  • Format this year was great. Always like the opportunity for parallel tracks though, so ideally more of this, even if it’s just 2 or 3 talks.
  • One day really with top external speakers
  • Keep as is.
  • As said I will like to have the workshops repeated on day 3 morning so to have the opportunity to do two during the conference.
  • Format works.
  • Already made suggestions
  • Location in Canterbury looks great. So a similar sort of social event with a dinner and an informal way to mix e.g the Titanic exhibition would be great. I prefer shorter workshop style format rather than long master class sessions. But I guess that’s a personal preference.
  • Shorter presentations – 30 minutes, so that the day can either start slightly later and/or finish a bit earlier. and/or an extra break given.
  • The mixture of talks, workshops and masterclasses was good.
  • – keynote speaker – theme for a particular day – more hands on activities
  • Format is good. Let’s add a morning run in the morning, and it will be perfect ;-)
  • Maybe an additional workshop but otherwise, good format wise. Good break time to talks ratio.
  • I’m not sure I would change anything. It might be nice to be able to attend multiple parallel sessions, but this would tie up the session facilitators too much. More interactivity in the final panel session would be good.
  • I liked the BOAF sessions from a few years ago. Perhaps content and PM streams?
  • Don’t change a thing – the format is a winner
  • This time was about right. Tweaks I’d wonder about: – reducing the number of talks and providing more break time; or running some semi-plenaries (two talks on different angles at the same time) – repeating some workshop sessions to allow people to make different combinations of topics.
  • Similar to this one – thought it worked very well.
  • I thin the current format worked, but maybe a little longer days to build in a bit more chat time in the breaks.
  • Same! Worked really well and gave people opportunity to travel to and from the event (largely) on the days themselves.

Topics you would like to see covered at IWMW 2017?

  • Development workflows How other web teams ‘service’ other departments and schools. More process oriented.
  • Would love a bit of future gazing around where things could potentially go. Especially if we think the web will be dead in ten years.
  • CMA success / horror stories Remarketing example/case study Legal expert presentation on CMA Legal expert presentation on cookies and sophisticated marketing/remarketing/personalisation techniques Accessibility current best practice Live demo of assistive technology user in action
  • UX, digital strategy, content strategy, user engagement
  • Difficult to say this far in advance. Good to see content related to the current trends, new ideas and challenges of the industry and the sector at 2016’s events, so more of the same at 2017, please!
  • Project management methodologies (Agile but also wider than this. Interesting to see DSDM mentioned this year. Also how to manage continuous development). Content strategy (but really more about raising the quality of writing, the relationship between web teams/academics and marketing etc.) Some radical approaches (if they are around?! Has anyone mastered content reduction rather than having a very large website which covers absolutely everything?)
  • More content-related topics, also, working as an effective team when it comes to managing digital projects.
  • – more code related workshops – more hands-on related content workshops
  • Not specific topics, but I really liked Martin Hawksey’s Analytics talk as it covered a lot of things that I’d never heard of before, so more of the ‘out there’/’what the future might hold’-type talks would be good.
  • As above (content at IWMW 2017)
  • Should this say 2017? Whatever is relevant next year! Suppose some post EU exit challenges might be appropriate!
  • More about wider digital issues (not just the web) and more case studies from outside HE – we could learn from other sectors.
  • Project management
  • As above! Ie Personalisation approaches (and data protection) will remain very topical. Something on the legal side / regulation? How do people approach T&Cs, privacy policies etc? How can we avoid the six pages of legalese that no-one reads?
  • More on UX, content, managing change, migrations, the issues involved with being part of a huge university
  • User testing Career Progression Visual Design Innovation
  • Agile, mobile, apps vs. web

The posts published recently will be analysed and used in the planning for the IWMW 2017 event. Feel free to leave any further suggestions as comments on these posts.


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Use of Technologies at #IWMW16

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Oct 2016

About this Post

A recent series of posts on this blog have looked back at the IWMW 2016 event. This post reviews the use of technologies at the event.


The IWMW series of events has provided opportunities to evaluate a variety of online technologies, which may help to enrich the event experience and provide opportunities for delegates to evaluate technologies which may be useful in their own institutional context.

The use of online technologies dates back to 2005 when a WiFi network was available at an IWMW event for the first time: the IWMW 2005 event held at the University of Manchester. Although probably fewer than 20 delegates had a networked laptop at the time, the availability of online access at the event was significant because the 7/7 London bombings took place on the morning of the second day of the event and news of the event was first known and discussed on the event’s IRC channel. This led to an appreciation of the potential need for an online environment at future events in case of other disaster, difficulties or simply changes to the programme or similar alerts.

In addition to a communication environment which has been available every year since 2005 (initially using IRC and subsequently using Twitter) a variety of other technologies have also been used over the years, such as podcasts at IWMW 2005, a ‘chatbox’ at IWMW 2006, a wiki at IWMW 2007 (no longer available), the Ning social network at IWMW 2008, a blog for IWMW 2009 and also for IWMW 2010 and IWMW 2011, Lanyrd for IWMW 2011, the Shhmooze mobile app at IWMW 2012 and the Bizzabo mobile app at IWMW 2013. At the relaunched IWMW 2014 event a simplified approach was taken based primarily on use of Twitter and Lanyrd. This simplified approach continued for IWMW 2015 apart from the initial introduction of the Whova app.

A number of technologies are now established at IWMW events including (a) use of Twitter with an #iwmwnn hashtag (and an additional hashtag, such as #pn, #an or #bn to identify tweets for a particular plenary talk or parallel session); (b) Slideshare for sharing speakers’ slides (either on the IWMW Slideshare account of using speakers’ personal Slideshare account – with the iwmwnn tag helping to aggregate slideshows); (c) the IWMW Lanyrd account which provides access to event programme, timetable, speaker profiles and links to related resources for all IWMW events and (d) Eventbrite, which has been used for the past three years for event bookings. In addition the IWMW YouTube account has been set up recently for live video streaming and subsequent access to video recordings..

Links to further information about the technologies used at IWMW events since 2005 are given in the following table.

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Technologies [Link] [Link] [Link] [Link] [Link] [Link] [Link]

Technologies at IWMW 2016


Thanks to the kind sponsorship of the Digital Clarity Group this year we were once again able to have a dedicated event amplification team: Kirsty and Rich Pitkin of TConsult Ltd (with Kirsty perhaps better known on Twitter as @eventamplifier and blogger on the Event Amplifer blog). Kirsty managed the live Twitter stream at the event as well as the video interviews with a number of participants and speakers at the event, with Rich managing the live video stream and subsequently processing the videos which can now be viewed online.

A summary of the technologies used this year is given below.

IWMW Web Site

The IWMW 2016 web site is hosted on the main site. The software is used to manage the site. Note that following a hack of the site several months ago and the limited amount of systems expertise available it has been decided that only a limited number of plugins will be installed on the site, which will limit the functionality available on the site. In particular the numbers of accounts for the site will be restricted.


This year the work of the IWMW 2016 advisory group primarily touch place using the Slack communications tool. This proved successful and it is intended to continue with use of this tool for next year’s advisory group. It was also suggested that a Slack channel be set up for the wider web management community – a suggestion which will be explored shortly.


As mentioned above the Lanyrd social directory of events has been used not only for recent IWMW events, but also for providing a summary of the content of all 20 IWMW events. However recently access problem have been noticed with the site, so its long-term future seems to be uncertain. This suggests that the approach of using multiple services for providing access to historical information about the event series should be continued.


The Whova app was used for supporting communications at the event continued this year, thanks to the kind sponsorship provided by Whova.

The following comments about the Whova app at IWMW events have been made:

  • Keep using Whova or equivalent. Seemed like a great networking amplifier.
  • “[Best things about the event]: 1) The talk by Marieke on/about QAA was completely new, and very valuable information to me. 2) Networking opportunities during workshops, masterclasses and social events were flawless. Whova is the icing. 3) I like the format of this event (two half-days and a full day in between). It’s just right – not too short but not too tiring.

The following point was also made:

  • I thought it was organised very well. One thing to note was that I was a little confused about where to go get information just before the event as at that point we had email, the IWMW website, Eventbrite, Lanyard and Whova as points of contact.

This blog post seeks to explain the purpose of the various technologies used, but there will be a need to signpost more clearly the roles played by the various technologies at next year’s event.

The final comments about Whova are provided by Alberto Guglielmi (University of Birmingham) and myself, on YouTube videos which are embedded below.

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Commercial Involvement at the IWMW 2016 Event

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Oct 2016

About this Post

A recent series of posts on this blog have looked back at the IWMW 2016 event. This post reviews the feedback received regarding commercial involvement with the event.

Commercial Involvement

During the first seventeen years of its life the IWMW event was a UKOLN deliverable provided on behalf of JISC, UKOLN’s core funder. Following the cessation of JISC’s funding for UKOLN and the subsequent closure of UKOLN the future of the IWMW event was uncertain. However the feedback received at the IWMW 2013 event made it clear that there was still significant interest in the event and a desire for the event to continue.

The event has continued, with the IWMW 2014 event being held in Newcastle and organised jointly with Jisc Netskills. The event proved successful but the plans for continued joint delivery of the event with Jisc Netskills was not possible due to the subsequent cession of Jisc funding for Netskills. Since then the IWMW 2015 and IWMW 2016 events have been held at Edge Hill University and Liverpool John Moores University respectively. The responsibility for the event is now taken by myself, the founder of the IWMW series. This includes financial responsibility for the event, together with responsibility for the format and content of the event, although an IWMW advisory group provides valuable input into the latter aspects of the event.

In order to ensure the financial stability of the event greater emphasis has been given over the past few years to sponsorship of the event (note that Jisc have been approached but have declined to sponsor the event as support for the web management comment is no longer part of Jisc’s strategic areas).

The IWMW event has also emphasised its community aspects, providing a forum for sharing best practices across peers in the web management community. It has always been recognised that the sector can benefit from insights from beyond the higher education community, but the focus has been on content provided by practitioners in the UK’s higher education web management sector.

There is a risk that the need for commercial sponsorship in order to ensure the sustainability of the event could have a detrimental effect on the nature of the event. In order to identify possible risks and make plans for next year’s event the evaluation form for the IWMW 2016 event had a number of questions related to greater commercial involvement with the event.


The evaluation form asked the question “what concerns do you have regarding greater commercial involvement with the event?“. A summary of the responses is given below.

  • None
  • HE vendors have a specialised, niche, slightly captive market. Sometimes that means they have less pressure to innovate.
  • That it will become a conference to ‘flog’ stuff and leave me with lots of cold calls and spam emails.
  • We need to be very clear that they shouldn’t be pushing their own product, but trying to benefit the community through the sharing of knowledge and best practice. The vendors play a huge part in IWMW, not only through funding it, but by exposing us to new ideas and concepts. However they also have a huge amount to gain from us. Financially for certain, but also picking up on new problems and trends that are affecting us.
  • Other than avoiding sales pitches at plenaries, none!
  • There’s always the difficulty that one company will be seen to be the main contender (eg T4) to the exclusion of others.
  • No concern
  • I feel a bit dubious about commercial involvement. I haven’t answered none, I think commercial involvement is useful, I just think it we all need to be aware that commercial representatives are there for their company and they will have their company’s agenda in mind.
  • That talks become straight pitches, rather than insightful.
  • I have no problem with greater commercial involvement in the event, as long as the presentations don’t feel like a sales pitch. If we can see the benefits of a system or piece of software while looking at a case study with a HE institution, then everyone’s a winner!
  • None, providing that the nature of commercial involvement continues to be overtly acknowledged by the organisers and vendors, which I think it was very well at IWMW 2016.
  • None. Quite happy to see any of the above. Plenary talks about products and services can be difficult if it’s not relevant to everyone. The ones at IWMW16 were actually very well balanced e.g. Precent and Headscape. I suspect that is partly due to them ‘getting’ the HE sector and knowing how to pitch something like that.
  • Sales pitches aren’t welcome and it was good that it didn’t feel like anyone was literally selling their products or services. Shared experience and expertise is welcome, and the balance felt right.
  • That the focus will be on selling a product rather than offering helpful information.
  • Wouldn’t want to have to sit through a talk that was basically a sales pitch, but aside from that I think there are a lot of benefits.
  • The difference in opinions, perspectives and agendas is a good thing. It offers conference participants a rounded 360-degree view of the industry.
  • None really, didn’t feel too much this year.
  • No real concerns. They are part of our community too, and a vital part of the HE digital ecosystem. Just as long as they avoid clunk sales pitches. From what I saw, speakers from commercial firms did a good job of avoiding this and demonstrated that they had valuable content to offer the community.
  • Done well they should build trust without coming across as a big sell. Piero from T4 did this very well.
  • Necessary evil. Would suggest you group them as you appear to have done this year
  • None, as long as involvement in talks etc. is product-neutral.
  • I thought the balance was good this year. Too much and it might start to seem overly slanted to their needs, not ours.
  • None, really.
  • The balance currently struck seems to work well and the commercial agencies/vendors seem to be getting a lot out of it too. Anything that can keep costs down will help. Sponsored places.


The evaluation form asked the question “What benefits do you feel greater commercial involvement could provide?“. The following respopnises were given:

  • More case studies that are relevant to HEI. Perhaps the organisers could do a quick poll of different agencies used/considered by attendees to make it more relevant. This would give greater networking opportunities.
  • The vendors play a huge part in IWMW, not only through funding it, but by exposing us to new ideas and concepts. However they also have a huge amount to gain from us. Financially for certain, but also picking up on new problems and trends that are affecting us.
  • Sustainability Greater shared understanding of how to work with each other
  • Other than financial, it’s good to keep commercial companies involved in HE thinking.
  • More sponsors and therefore an improved quality of an already outstanding event.
  • Can give an idea of what’s out there in terms of agency partnerships, technology and training. Also good to get an idea of how non-HE organisations work.
  • Easy way of seeing what is out there. Especially if you are not really looking for anything in particular but it’s keep you informed and up to date.
  • More funds to make the event as high-quality as possible (i.e, catering, coffee, social events etc).
  • Reduce ticket prices Better conference dinner Sharing of new ideas Lessons from working in the commercial sector with HE clients.
  • I think the ability to keep the standard of the event up without raising the costs is a major point – getting sponsors to provide evening drinks / break refreshments / etc. Also some of the conference materials (eg lanyards) could be of higher quality if a commercial supplier were covering the costs. Also a good opportunity to hear from suppliers outside the usual IWMW circle (T4, Funnelback, etc)
  • Modern, out-of-the-box thinking, that is not limited to Higher Education vertical.
  • Better deals and opportunities for HE staff.
  • It feels like the conference was well supported this year, in contrast to some other previous years. I would like to this success maintained in future years.
  • Cheaper, I guess. More access to god resources.
  • Maybe Brian might turn a decent profit!
  • Outside views, opportunity to quiz people working in different environments (HE or not). .
  • Great to hear their perspective on the sector, and case studies etc. Rob Van Tol’s talk on managing change was particularly interesting.
  • Getting people to network by supporting a social setting worked well. With the right people there’s no hard sell.
  • Greater resources for meals, social, goodies.

Feedback From Commercial Sector

The evaluation form asked commercial vendors and consultants to respond to the question “What benefits do you gain from participation at IWMW events?” . The following responses were made:

  • Networking Visibility Insight into what’s going on in HE
  • Meeting lots of accounts and prospects face-to-face in a short time period.
  • Insights into how things are ‘in the trenches’. Exposure. Networking opportunities.

A follow-up question asked “What changes or enhancements would you like to see?”. The following responses were made:

  • No pre-registration requirement for WiFi access.
  • Video amplification is a great idea. This could be further improved by adding pre-event video coverage with session teasers where speakers would briefly talk about what they will be presenting.


It seems clear that participants appreciate the benefits which involvement of the commercial sector can bring to the event, provided talks are not just product pitches. THis feedback will be shared with potential sponsors of next year’s event.


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IWMW 2016: Participants’ Feedback

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 Oct 2016

About This Post

IWMW 2016 logoA number of posts have been published recently which have summarised the feedback received for the IWMW 2016 event. These are:

Today’s (long) post provides a review of the comments made on the event in its entirety.

IWMW 2016 Event Evaluation

Numerical Ratings

Based on the feedback received on the IWMW 2016 evaluation forms, it seems that 52.5% of the respondents rated the content of the event as excellent, 40% rated it as very good, 5% as good and 2.5% as poor, an average rating of 4.43. The rating for the event organisation were even more impressive with 52.5% rating the organisation as excellent and 47.5% rating it as very good, an average of 4.53.

IWMW 2016: overall ratingIWMW 2016: rating for eventorganisation

These scores very similar to the ratings for the previous two years, since the event ceased to be organised by UKOLN.

Year 2014 2015 2016
Content 4.39 4.49 4.43
Organisation 4.70 4.31 4.53
Evaluation [link] [link] [link]

General Feedback

The numerical ratings can be helpful in providing a simple indication of the success (or not) of an event and to help spot trends over time. However of more value are the comments received on the evaluations forms.

General Comments

Some of the general comments received include:

  • Felt some of the talks could have been more detailed in terms of actions – some of them were more about the story rather than the detail.
  • Varied in just the right way. Lots of topics but all very applicable. Although HE digital is niche, it is also broad.
  • Good programme.
  • Very relevant, but some of the sessions were a bit repetitive – a broader range of topics would assist with this.
  • Nice spread of content this year. Not too high level, but something for everyone.
  • Usual great mix of themes and talks. Plenty to engage and it all felt relevant.
  • Having only been working in the sector for a couple of months, the content was very useful to help me understand the challenges facing the HE sector from a web management point of view. I like a bit more technical content to be present but then I acknowledge that is not the focus of the event.
  • Nice and varied. Some of the talks from institutions were too focused on what they did rather than the lessons learned/how it might apply to the audience. Also, some of the talks from agencies/suppliers were a little bit too on the side of a sales pitch rather than an informative talk. I wouldn’t get rid of them though, as some were very insightful, eg Precedent.
  • Need external influence. Shame only last day had this when everyone had left
  • Would have liked to have heard more ‘how to do…’ stuff, like the Google presenter. There seemed to be a lot of case studies this year. However, the interaction with the vendors was more positive and interactive than I have previously experienced.
  • Very very good. Although some of the talks were a tad repetitive, so would have preferred to go to more workshops.
  • I have enjoyed most of the talks. I think workshops on day 1 could be i proved.
  • Enjoyable and interesting as ever. Lots to come back and talk to the rest of the team about. Master class was good.
  • Content on the first day was interesting, but not very insightful. Content on the second and third days was both interesting and insightful. Useful to hear about case studies in the sector, but only when they’re accompanied by learnings, new ideas, work with an agency, etc.. Some of the day one presentations felt more like general sharing of what happened.
  • A lot of the presentations were of the formula – “this was our journey through a)restructuring/building a team or b)redesigning a website or c)migrating to a new CMS….” which is fine, and interesting, but I’d like to see more presentations of the type – this is how we built a course search in our CMS/ this is how we’re using UX training to improve our research site/ this is how we’re using digital transformation principles to make our VC take a digital-first approach etc – I think there would be more learning value for me personally in that nature of presentation.
  • Well thought-out thematic structure, interesting presenters from a variety of institutions.
  • Really good conference. Very impressed with the content especially the 2nd day was very relevant for me.
  • Interesting and diverse.
  • Content was varied and up-to date.
  • Lots of really good talks, covering diverse topics and on the whole delivered to a very high standard.
  • Great content, great speakers.
  • Really relevant, lots to take away and apply to my own work.
  • The general standard of the talks is very high. Having attended for a few years, there is a risk of hearing the same messages over and over again, though this is largely avoided. The concluding panel session is particularly valuable, as this gives space for wider discussion about the big picture. The sessions are generally less technical in nature than they were a few years ago. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and I value there being a diverse range of topics under discussion throughout the event. It would be good if there could be a wider variety of speakers. I would like to see more women speaking, and more people outside HE if possible. IWMW is valuable for HE web managers, but it was great to hear from the ONS as well this year. It would great to have some more people from other sectors involved.
  • Lots of encouraging and interesting plenary talks. The second day workshop wasn’t great and by about half way through much of the room had switched off and in that British way just stuck it out to the end without comment.
  • Another great conference with consistently high quality plenaries, parallel sessions and social activity
  • A good mix of material – thought provoking and practical
  • Really good mix. Covered many of my key areas of interest, ie content management, content production, user-centred design, site governance. Very useful to hear case studies and the honesty with which people presented their experiences. Good to hear from consultants etc. as well as peers (e.g. Precedent). Enjoyed masterclass – Rich Prowse and co are great.
  • Liked the mix of presentations about managing change and getting the change that we want. Thought the best talks had a narrative of things to go away and try. Overall, because my position isn’t a strategic role, I’m biased towards more tactical ways to get stuff implemented.
  • Good range of interesting talks and workshops
  • A good mix of peers and non salesy talks.
  • Great variety of speakers from different-sized institutions and outside expertise.
  • Great range of case study style presentations as well as new thinking from the sector and beyond.

In general the content of the plenary talks seems to have been highly regarded.

Event Organisation

The feedback for the event organisation is given below.

  • Very well done.
  • For the second workshops, we were able to select multiple options, but only attend one. I was a little disappointed not to get into the workshop which would have been my first choice. Other than that, all was good.
  • Good organisation and venue. The days felt quite long as there’s a wealth of information to absorb. Ideally the event would spread over 3-4 days but maybe it could be from 10-4 instead. Catering on the second day wasn’t great, there weren’t enough sandwiches for everyone and I can count at least 10 people who had to source their lunch elsewhere.
  • It would be nice to get the information out earlier. Especially if the dates are into July next year which the end of our financial year. Money will be a bit harder to come by by then.
  • Event org went well. A minor observation but delighted as I was with the 2 drinks receptions being funded by sponsors, it would have been better if they could have been combined or made sequential. Having them in parallel really fragmented the social networking.
  • Well organised as ever. Missed the accommodation in halls though. The networking etc dissipated somewhat with people dispersed over the city.
  • I thought it was organised very well. One thing to note was that I was a little confused about where to go get information just before the event as at that point we had email, the IWMW website, Eventbrite, Lanyard and Whova as points of contact.
  • Everything ran smoothly – no complaints really!
  • Very good – would have liked to have had the agenda a little earlier, as it would have been great to have had other people from our organisation present, not just from the webteam.
  • Pretty good. Nicely spaced out events with good time in between. Eevening events were also good.
  • Fantastic!!!
  • Everything went pretty smoothly.
  • Very well organised in general, but the sound (microphones) wasn’t great during the event.
  • Organisation was very good, but the timetabling was quite intense on the second day. When the presentations come thick and fast, it’s difficult to remember who said what, and digest the content before you’re concentrating on the next speaker.
  • Nametags probably needed to emphasise firstname and organisation over surname and event title.
  • Great location and well organised.
  • Very well organised. Great venue. Great location. Superb dinner in a brilliant location. Being able to see the Titanic exhibition was a very nice touch. All ran very smoothly and on time.
  • Generally good, although I don’t think there was enough food for lunch on Wednesday. Also, the mic difficulties were a bit of a drawback.
  • Great venue, mostly kept well to time, great lunch and selection of cakes and snacks between the sessions! The prizes were a nice touch.
  • Well planned conference, both the main part and the social events.
  • Everything ran smoothly and was well facilitated by people who knew how to get people together.
  • The event was generally well organised, although the technical issues that were encountered particularly on day one were frustrating. It was good that these were noted and rectified by day two. However, I struggled to connect to Wi-Fi for the entire event, and relied on my own mobile data to use the internet during the conference. It seems I was not the only one. The facilities of the building were generally very good, but the lack of internet is very poor, particularly at a conference like IWMW in 2016.
  • Organisation was smooth. A few comments: it felt quite disjointed registering and then having to go next door to collect a folder. I never used the folder, at all. I opened it the day after I got back. There was a lot of movement between floors (from 2nd to 5th and back again), and connected with the fact that there was no common accommodation for participants it felt like there was significantly less time to network and mingle because people dispersed very quickly.
  • Very well organised, in splendid venue
  • Clear and effective. We knew what to do when, and where to go!
  • Very slick, well organised event
  • All went very smoothly. Loved the venue. Great having it in central Liverpool so we had a nice city to explore. The conference meal was wonderful in the Maritime Museum, with access to the Titanic exhibition. Felt like everyone was well looked after and everything was communicated well, from the start to the end. (Including helpful links to hotels etc.)
  • Very good – information was clear and useful, especially considering the challenges of a city centre institution versus a campus.
  • List of hotels was very handy, thanks. Conference venue was good and the dinner was nice too.
  • Generally very good by Eduroam wifi was flakey
  • Well organised as ever
  • It ran as an event should run. No bad points. Maybe that the bottled water ran out at one point, and tea/coffee/water wasn’t always available. But nobody’s perfect.
  • Great location and a wonderful conference dinner venue.
  • Well organised with information given in a timely manner, and all together on the website. A great resource for the event and afterwards.

I’ve made a note of the following points for planning next year’s event:

  • there weren’t enough sandwiches for everyone  …“. There were a number of late bookings for the event, which were made after estimates for the number of participants had been submitted to the caterers. Next year we should try to ensure that the final booking deadline is enforced.
  • a little disappointed not to get into the workshop which would have been my first choice“. This is always likely to be the case for the parallel sessions. We recommend early booking for those who wish to attend specific parallel sessions.
  •  “Ideally the event would spread over 3-4 day“. This would probably be a barrier for those who can only attend a 3-day event.
  • It would be nice to get the information out earlier. Especially if the dates are into July next year which the end of our financial year.”  This is an important point. The current set of posts about the evaluation of the IWMW 2016 event are being published in order that plans for next year’s event can be finalised over the next few weeks.
  • Very good – would have liked to have had the agenda a little earlier“.  We will ensure that information is publicised much earlier than for this year’s event.
  • I was a little confused about where to go get information just before the event as at that point we had email, the IWMW website, Eventbrite, Lanyard and Whova as points of contact“. The services aimed to provide complementary functions. However this will be clarified for next year’s event.

Key Highlights

Participants were invited to “give up to 3 examples of the key highlights of the event or ways in which it has been beneficial to you“. A summary of the responses is given below.

  • Very welcoming community Fantastic location Opportunities to compare notes with people who have shared challenges
  • It made me think of what needs to happen at our university to drive my vision for the student experience forward.
  • – Personalisation and advertising campaigns – didn’t have much knowledge of this before IWMW16 – Discussing similiar problems we encounter – restructuring seems to happen often in other institutions, thought this was an issue local to our university. – Networking with others at other HEIs and external vendors such as funnelback and being able to discuss products that they use. For example, we’re looking at purchasing a CMS and wanted to find out from others what their experiences have been.
  • Energised my team. Exposed them to a lot of things that they hadn’t thought about before. Energised me, got me thinking and questioning how we do things and potential ways forward. Learned just how powerful Googe Analytics actually is.
  • Professional and social networking Top tips sparked by talks which Iwill go on to implement A new supplier contact working in an area I wasn’t familiar with
  • Networking New insights into Google Analytics
  • – Rich Prowse’s plenary was excellent – Despite the accommodation managed to have some very useful catch ups with colleagues – Social stuff – lovely location for the dinner/post dinner drinks, and the freebie the following night was a nice surprise.
  • Most benefit is catching up with people in similar working environment/making friends/socialising. Hearing about new ways of tackling issues (eg Google Analytics of Things) Keeping up to date with Digital Government practices Vendor interaction very positive and useful
  • Networking – finding out that everyone has same problems and are looking at similar solutions. Writing for the web – an excellent course, particularly as it wasn’t a hard sell for the supplier The last panel was fantastically blunt in a way we often never get to be when at our home institutions.
  • Masterclass is the reason I come to IWMW and this year as in previous year it has delivered. Love the sense of community always giving good networking opportunity. It is really useful to have plenaries about a wide range of situation.
  • User testing master class was very useful. It’s something I’ve started to be a lot more involved in recently and a got some good tips from this class. Managing change and Delivering Services were the two other sections I got the most out of.
  • Precedent presentation on day two was very good. Gave a broad picture of what is possible when working with an agency. Community in general was fantastic. Great to speak to so many people. Writing for the web masterclass with Zengenti was excellent.
  • It’s often reassuring at conferences to see that other HE institutions are doing roughly the same things in roughly the same way, although it’s becoming apparent to me that it’s the university that breaks the mould and does something groundbreaking that will truly gain an edge. Highlight of the conference for me was Precedent’s masterclass on digital transformation. Thought provoking, with clear solutions about how to scale digital transformation. I think we’ll try it on a departmental level and hopefully it will spiral outwards from there!
  • As newbie, massive value in meeting fellow web professionals and managers, discovering everyone has the same sort of issues.
  • Opportunity for our team to give a workshop together. We’ve not tried this before with 3 people so very good experience for us. Great relaxed atmosphere that has the correct balance between a formal work setting and informal gathering of like minded people. Learning new things but also getting confirmation for the direction and work antibiotics online that we are doing together at our University.
  • Making new contacts, key learnings from speakers, opportunity to reflect on my own work and learn about people and work in other areas beyond my own remit.
  • I learned more about governance. I met some interesting people. I managed to get a broader perspective of the HE industry.
  • – learning about th progress other organisations are making on digital transformation – networking opportunity with peers
  • – Meeting new people as well as the IWMW regulars – Workshops and master classes were a good way to get into the real detail of a topic – Getting a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes – hearing about the lows as well as the highs at other institutions
  • 1) The talk by Marieke on/about QAA was completely new, and very valuable information to me. 2) Networking opportunities during workshops, masterclasses and social events were flawless. Whova is the icing. 3) I like the format of this event (two half-days and a full day in between). It’s just right – not too short but not too tiring.
  • Opportunity to meet other people from my sector and share experiences and advice. Really useful insights to take in to my everyday work. Ideas for future career development I hadn’t thought about before.
  • Marieke Guy’s session on regulatory requirements – lots of great information. The opportunity to catch up with colleagues, meet new people and exchange ideas. Concluding panel session – a great way to wrap things up and provide food for thought for the future.
  • It was encouraging to hear where others are in their journeys and know that we’re not alone, we’re responding to similar issues; great to hear of different approaches taken by different people and institutions, particularly those outwith higher education — quite inspiring.
  • Personal/professional relationships Reinforcing user-focused approach Lots of practical information on social media
  • Discussion of ways to plan transformation – as our own institution starts on what I hope won’t be a half-hearted attempt! Thought processes on personalisation, another area in which we are exploring options Ideal of a high-ranking team to approve/reject web projects, taking the stress off the immediate team management and reducing the instant gratification requirements of top management..
  • Networking Knowledge Sharing
  • Uni of Bath’s masterclass – nothing like actually *doing* something.
  • Enjoyed the chance to network, though I think I would tell myself to make more of an effort to meet more new people, though there was only so much time in the days. None of the talks stood out above the others, all were good, with plenty of things to look back on and investigate Having more externals seemed to go well – the right kind who were mature enough to realise that this audience wouldn’t tolerate the had sell.
  • Social media campaign ideas from Rob Ryder-Richardson. Generally talking to peers
  • Learnt some useful Google Analytics tips from Martin Hawksey Insightful and interesting session from Matt Jukes
  • Managing change and transformation Agile working practices within the industry, sharing experiences View from the Building
  • B2: Future-proof Your Content Using an Adaptive Approach Facilitated by Rich Prowse, and Tom Natt This masterclass was great by great people! P10: It’s Time to Get Personal, Piero Tintori, TERMINALFOUR I thought this talk was fantastic, very interesting, and not an ounce of sales. I was extremely impressed.
  • Google Analytics masterclass University of Greenwich talk – great examples of small team with multiple disciplines Conference dinner
  • The IWMW blog is a great resource and should be kept up with entries from across HE and beyond. The networking between and after the main sessions is always a highlight – the insight, knowledge and support gained from peers is second to none Generally listening to peers to either gain new insights, or remind oneself that you are doing OK after all!

Area Which Could Be Improved

Participants at the event were asked to “give up to 3 examples of ways in which the event could be improved“. A summary of the responses is given below.

  • Nothing I can think of
  • More focus on current students, and innovative / new ways to improve their user experiences, less on marketing. More coffee
  • – Shorter days, maybe spread over a longer period of time (shorter days would give a better opportunity to sightsee) – Provide accommodation with event – felt a little bit isolated compared to the previous IWMW14 I attended. – Have the catered dinner on the second night of conference to allow for those who travelled far on the first day to catch up on sleep.
  • Shorter master classes and perhaps more of them. Might be worth trying to actively get different tracks set up and run the sessions more than once. E.g. Design, Development, Content.
  • As fed back to Brain, early notice and full confirmation of the event agenda. Not only to facilitate budgetary requests but to allow us to get it into Senior Mgmt diaries in order to expand our audience. I much preferred a venue with onsite Student Accommodation. I felt the hotel based accommodation changed the tenor of the social networking.
  • Masterclasses feel a bit too long Would be good to have maybe one or two plenary speakers from outside HE
  • – Get the shared accommodation back – Detail on the website and overall focus could be better. Makes for easier planning and I’m sure has an impact on conversion of interest to making a booking. – Seemed to be a fair bit of ‘my life story’ type presentations. I want more opportunities to learn from peers about techniques/tools they’ve used.
  • Some kind of support for new attendees to break into the group. I sometimes find when just walking up to a random group of people chatting at the event can mean you are actually leaping into a group of friends having an unrelated conversation. Have you considered moving the meal to the second night? I found it quite hard to concentrate for the whole second day after the night before :)
  • Format. 1 day event?
  • It would be good for our institution to have key influencers and decision makers attend (other than in the webteam), so to have earlier publication of the agenda/theme would be very helpful.
  • Lunch on Wed was a bit meh. Didn’t realise the lectures were as long, water on site very expensive Dinner was a bit school dinners although the venue was spectacular.
  • I think workshop content should be improved, and maybe repeat them on day 3 in the morning so there is an additional opportunity to do one. A close Facebook group for IWMW participants to use. Event is great so not a lot of room to i provement!!!
  • 1. I think day 1 and day 3 were too short, and day 2 too long. I realise this is because people need to time to travel there and back, but I don’t think any other event I’ve been to starts quite so late. If day 1 started at 11 or 12, and/or day 3 went till two or three then day 2 wouldn’t have to be quite so long. I think it’s just too long a day, and then Master classes, which are one of the most valuable things, come at the end of a long day, when everyone is tired. We could still have the same number of talks etc., just distributed a bit more evenly over the three days. Day 2 could still be the longest of the three, just not quite so long. 2. The social activities are all pretty drinking oriented. Personally this isn’t a problem for me, but I do think it makes the event less inclusive. There is a bit of an assumption that everyone is going to be going to drinking events, lots of joking references to hangovers etc. Maybe some social events that weren’t about drinking would be a good idea. 3. Not unrelated to point 2, the event is very male dominated, that’s partly because of the demographics of our field I guess, but I wonder if more could be done to make it a bit less “blokely”? Social events and just the general atmosphere.
  • Would be interesting to hear from people working in another sector with more digital innovation, but a similar audience – e.g. someone from Airbnb or Spotify. Later start on the final day!
  • Workshop content could be more than “This is how we did x. Now let’s all talk about how you did/ would do x”. I’d like to learn more about best practice whether it’s CMS management/front end design/integrating feeds etc Perhaps we could have a dual track system with 1) management and 2) content/design/technology ?
  • For me personally there isn’t anything I’d like to see better. Perhaps a short break between sessions but then again it’s hard to get everyone out and back in again quickly.
  • Slightly shorter presentations and an earlier finish, and a couple more comfort breaks in the daytime? There were long periods between comfort breaks. By the time I finally got to my hotel at the end of day 1 it was 5 minutes until the dinner was due to start – and as I needed a shower etc I had to give the dinner a miss sadly. This was partly as it took me a while to find my hotel! Maybe it would have been nice to try and get everyone to stay in the same hotel or at least in the same area, not sure if this is practical though.
  • More food at lunch. Don’t split the recreational areas and the lecture areas on different floors. Better audio capabilities.
  • – well known opening keynote speaker – dev and content track – more hands-on activities
  • – Ironing out the AV issues – microphones seemed to be causing a lot of problems and made things go a bit less smoothly than they could have done – Keeping to time more so that there’s enough time for Q&A – Would be good to get the feedback form right after the end of the event, I’ve struggled slightly with rating each session as it was now quite a few days ago. Or perhaps even break the feedback down into smaller segments, maybe send a ‘Day 1’ feedback form out at the end of the first day?
  • 1) Not a fan of coffee queues. Coffee and snacks should really be available at all times, outside the conference rooms. 2) I didn’t get my badge/lanyrd – partly my fault for not registering as a delegate, but I assumed that as a sponsor I’m not expected to. 3) It was hard to hear speakers from the back of the large lecture hall. 4) Feedback on individual sessions should be collected there and then when the talk is finished. You could offer a reward such as £1 per completed form to the charity (or something along those lines) to motivate people to stay in the room for another minute and give feedback.
  • More workshop would enable more sharing of practice.
  • A more diverse range of speakers would be appreciated. More people from other sectors to become more involved if possible. Better Wi-Fi – a necessity for a conference like this.
  • 1. Common accommodation — more opportunities to network in queues, over meals. 2. Less travel between meeting and plenary venues — again, lots of lost opportunities to chat as people dispersed quickly. 3. More technical sessions.
  • Even more attendees!
  • Evening drinks and socials are at the heart of the networking of IWMW. It would be good to find a way of knowing what people are planning and where they are going – so what the options are. Don’t know if there’s any app which would do it, but a list of places with the ability to add comments on what they are like and some sort of upvote/downvote system to indicate how many people might go there?
  • I’d have loved to be able to attend a second masterclass, but can see that that’s not really feasible within the timescale. A talk about managing devolved editorial structures in large universities and managing permissions/workflows would be interesting. How far should content control be centralised etc.?
  • My bias would be for some talks focused on specific things done and how they made things better. Possible to have too much strategy. Maybe questions right after a session are too soon – questions come up in the evenings, and a way to almost debrief the evening themes would be nice – if maybe a little ambitious! Being on site to keep more people together. I liked wandering around Liverpool, but that’s not the big attraction of the cons for me.
  • The only slight negative this year was accommodation. I realise this was beyond the control of the organisers, but it limited the community feel from previous events.
  • Better wifi :)
  • Special event for new participants who are on their own and not part of an organisational group, ice breaker.
  • Tea and coffee was missing in the morning on Wed and Thurs. The “Working With External Partners” talk felt like a scripted marketing piece done out of contractual obligation… #justsayin
  • Having a venue with on-site accommodation would have been beneficial as delegates were spread across the city Everything else was great!

Feedback on the Social Events

The following comments in the social events were made:

  • Great
  • As mentioned before, have the main social event dinner on the second night to allow for those travelling on day 1 of the conference to get some rest. Meal options were different to those in the google sheets, which led to some disappointment. Having more than one vegetarian option would be nice.
  • Venue was good, but the meal wasn’t the best. Nice being able to see round the museum as well. Thought the vendor sponsored bar was a really good idea and gave them an opportunity to speak to users in a better environment than they would have done at their stalls.
  • The social events were a highlight as ever with both work and personal catch ups benefiting folk hugely. The Maritime venue was great but the bar and exhibit visit confusion pretty much killed the night so that only pockets of folk remained. A missed opportunity for a more massed networking session.
  • Good food. Excellent venue.
  • Lovely locations in Albert Dock. Really well run, free booze, all great.
  • I was pretty tired the day after the meal which is why I had an early night and did not go to the meetups on Wednesday.
  • Both events great at Albert dock
  • Great as always. The venues this year were ideal, proximal and cultural!
  • Due to personal worries and woes I was not in a mood to socialise, which is a pity as I do see it as an important part of IWMW. This wasn’t anyone’s fault, hopefully next time I’ll be more able to participate.
  • A real highlight of the event. Everyone willing to chat. Agencies came across as genuinely friendly, rather than there to generate leads.
  • The Maritime Museum venue was great, although I didn’t think the food was brilliant.
  • Good choice of venues. Would’ve rated the food at Maritime Museum 5/10.
  • Excellent. The museum was superb.
  • I’m sorry I missed them, intend to join in at future events.
  • Social events were good, it was nice of the sponsors to provide us with drinks. However, I feel a seating plan at the event dinner would have been nice, it was a bit chaotic.
  • Maritime Museum was a great venue, although on coming out of the Titanic Exhibition I was surprised to find that everyone had gone – luckily we found people at the Pumphouse! Would have been good to not have two competing social events on the Wednesday, as that meant people ended up all over town.
  • Well organised. Would have been better to have everyone in one place for drinks on Wednesday if that’s possible in practical terms.
  • Really great opportunities to meet new people. I would have been lost without them.
  • Valuable as ever to attend the social events to catch up with colleagues and discuss shared challenges. Mando’s drinks reception at Revolucion de Cuba was good, but the long wait time for food meant we had to move on very quickly.
  • Good balance of stuff. Again, not enough opportunity to mingle.
  • The Albert Dock night will live with me forever – what a night
  • Wonderful! And how great to get free cocktails on a sunny evening down at the beautiful docks.
  • I don’t think I met enough new people, or even caught up enough with people I know a bit. Being on one site would have helped I think.
  • Good location for the dinner, museum was interesting
  • Very generous of the sponsors, very much appreciated
  • Great conference dinner
  • The museum event was good but somewhat disappointed in the food. Might be better in subsequent years to have something less formal? Or just a drinks reception and visit and then leave people to their own devices? Having two meet-ups on the Wednesday also split attendees up, which was a bit of a shame, if people couldn’t make it to both venues. Very generous of them though!

Further Posts on the IWMW 2016 Event

A number of further posts about the IWMW 2016 event will be published over the next few days, including comments on the sponsorship of the event and on suggestions for the IWMW 2017 event. Feel free to provide additional feedback on this blog!



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Reflections on #IWMW16: The Parallel Sessions

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Oct 2016

Recent posts on this blog have provided Reflections on #IWMW16: The Talks and provided access to IWMW 2016: The Resources (links to video recordings of the plenary talks and to accompanying slides). But as the full name of IWMW events implies the Institutional Web Management Workshop series is not a conference, but a workshop in which participants are expected to actively engage in discussions and other activities related to the challenges in providing large-scale institutional web services.

Recent IWMW events have features two types of sessions which encourage active participation: workshop sessions and masterclasses. At this year’s IWMW 2016 event there were 8 workshop sessions (lasting for 90 minutes) and 8 master cheap topamax classes (which lasted for 2 hours 45 minutes).  The following workshop sessions were held:

and the following master classes:

Feedback on the Workshop Sessions

The following comments about the positive aspects of the workshop sessions were made:

  • The workshop, although very theoretical based, was really useful for me. It helped me to identify the leadership styles I use most often and which ones I need to develop further. Claire was very engaging and tried to make the session more interactive which really helped what could’ve been a very “talked at” session.
  • Another really good session from Claire that was well researched and well presented.
  • Really really good. Not a hard sell and lots of evidence shown, along with caveats. Presenter excellent.
  • Was an interesting case study, but not much time given to why it had been done and too early after launch to say what it had achieved. It was also quite different to what I expected to hear about (and I’m guessing that was the same for others). Had expected something about engaging prospective international students. And that’s kind of what the workshop part ended up being focused on, but that didn’t directly relate to the case study, so it was difficult to marry the two. Presenter was very enthusiastic about her work and the topic, though, so enjoyed speaking to her in a small group about her work and general ideas within the sector.
  • Worth it for the market research gleaned alone!
  • Not as immediately applicable to my job, and Birkbeck is a bit different from other institutions in many ways, but was a well run session and was very interesting.
  • Very well run session, got a lot of detail about how St Andrews have been doing things and good into a good discussion with the workshop participants
  • This was an interactive session which offered great networking opportunities, and allowed people to get to know each other better.
  • Great to hear about Ian St John’s experiences in a small team (of one). I attended this in the hope of picking up some tips on how to run my own small team, but it turned out that there was not as much crossover as I had expected in the challenges we face. However, it was still valuable to discuss these challenges in the workshop setting. During this session there was also the suggestion of setting up an IWMW Slack channel for web managers, which I think is a brilliant idea.
  • Just what I was looking for in terms of my questions. Despite ostensibly being a commercial pitch I think the presenter was straightforward and honest about some potential pitfalls
  • Learnt some new stuff about leadership, and can see how trying to apply some of the theories would be cool. Alas, I’m not in a leadership role so I can’t enact a lot of this. Very well delivered too.

The following comments on disappointing aspects of the sessions or on how the workshop sessions could be improved were made:

  • The story/case study wasn’t particularly coherent. The activity wasn’t well planned and facilitator didn’t do enough to engage the group. Ours was railroaded by one person and two in the group didn’t engage with the activity at all. Disappointing experience. Caveat – could be that I know too much about content strategy now and this was pitched for a newbie audience.
  • This turned out to be a workshop where the participants’ ideas differed considerably from the route taken by the workshop leaders. The approach was to ask us what we would do, rather than give tips and ideas on what would be useful. Didn’t really learn much in this one, disappointingly.
  • Interesting but would have liked more focus on student recruitment and more opportunities to share stories.

Feedback on the Master Classes

The following comments about the positive aspects of the master classes were made:

  • I learned so much about social media and advertising campaigns. Really good insight into the various tools that Dundee use and the live demos were awesome (even with eduroam being a bit sketchy).
  • REALLY good. I have been very involved in user testing in the past year. It’s become one of the main focuses of my job, partly as a result of last year’s IWMW, as we came back with ideas about stuff we needed to work on and this was one of them. This class gave me some really practical advice which will improve my user testing practices. This was probably for me the most valuable session of the day. I did find it hard going to have it so late at the end of a long day, I think 11 am would be a better time to have a master class.
  • Presenters were very good – responded to questions/ideas in the room. Kept informal but informative. Gave a lot of information which slightly surprised me, as agency presentations at conferences usually give you half the info and then tell you how good they’ll be at giving you the other half! This wasn’t a sales pitch at all, it was a genuine masterclass.
  • Very interesting and useful. Great takeaways here about how to engage people in the organisation and how to sidestep people who are getting in the way of digital transformation.
  • Excellent – practical and applicable
  • It was good and informative, although we watched three examples of usability testing, each around 20 minutes long. By the third example I felt we had ‘got the idea’ and it became a tad cumbersome. The overall takeaways from the class were very beneficial.
  • Practical and relevant, very useful.
  • Engaging and practical – packed in a lot of really valuable info
  • Lots of interesting things to do with Google Analytics and Tag Manager
  • Some good and welcome/timely ideas to be put into practise.
  • This masterclass was great by great people!
  • Some great info in here
  • A more in depth look into the strategies mentioned in the earlier talk with lots of group discussion and sharing along the way. Great stuff.

The following comments on disappointing aspects of the sessions or on how the master classes could be improved were made:

  • I was expecting this to be hands-on, but it really wasn’t. Also, in a mixed ability group you need to assume that not everyone know all of the processes – I feel like certain aspects were skipped over which wasn’t helpful. There were lots of interesting ideas but I felt like it was trying to do too much, what would’ve been better is if it was hands-on and we went through, in detail, perhaps just one or two of the techniques.
  • Unfortunately my experience of this class was very poor. The presentation was disjointed and at times downright odd, and some of the content was unconvincing. The slides were very dense in text, and these were largely read out verbatim by the presenter. Again, I will look at these slides later to see if there is anything I can take away. But there was little about content, and the presenter’s admitted lack of experience in HE gave the governance aspects little clout. A disappointment.
  • Sadly a very disappointing master class. There was far, far too much talking from the host and not enough discussion. I felt like I was in a sales pitch, and the content was very dry. I was so disappointed.
  • Was trying to cover too much content which meant a lot of the later more interesting stuff was rushed over because we were running over time.
  • Dreadful, just dreadful. This is where vendor participation really falls down when they try to push their own companies and products. The presenter talked pretty much for the entire time, with a few group discussions thrown in to tick boxes that had very little to do with the subject. If trades description law could be applied, she would have been in breach.


IWMW 2016: ratings for master classes

Ratings for master classes (1 = poor; 5 = excellent)

IWMW 2016: ratings for workshops

Ratings for workshops (1 = poor; 5 = excellent)

Parallel sessions have typically generated a variety of responses in feedback forms: the expectation that sessions will be informed by the participants’ specific interests can make such sessions difficult to organise when, as is often the case, there is a diverse range of expertise and knowledge. However two specific concerns have been raised which will be addressed when inviting proposals for next years events:

  1. the need to avoid product pitches
  2. the need to avoid giving long presentations and provide meaningful ways of providing active participation from participants. These points will be made explicitly when the call for submissions for next years event is made.

It should be noted, however, that despite the concerns raised as can be seen from the accompany graphs no fewer than 71% of respondents rated the workshop sessions as very good or excellent with this figure rising to 82% for the mast classes!

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IWMW 2016: The Resources

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 Sep 2016

The initial post looking back at the IWMW 2016 event, Reflections on #IWMW16: The Talks, summarised the plenary talks and the feedback on the talks. However as a goal of the IWMW event is to support the Web management community across the UK higher education community we seek to ensure that resources from IWMW event are made freely available after the event has finished; indeed, if funding is available, we also seek to make the resources available to a remote audience during the event by live-streaming the plenary talks and making accompanying slides readily available.

Thanks to the sponsorship provided by Digital Clarity Group we were able to live-stream the talks this year (something we have not done for a few years due to lack of sponsorship). The recordings of the talks are now available on YouTube. This post provides access to the video recordings for all of the plenary talks and the accompanying slides where these are available on Slideshare.

It should be noted that the resources are also available on the individual pages on the IWMW 2016 web site and on the IWMW 2016 Lanyrd web site, together with the IWMW YouTube and the IWMW Slideshare accounts (as well as slides shared on Slideshare using the speakers’ accounts. This diversity of access routes to the resources aims to maximise the visibility of the resources and provide resilience in case of unavailability of any of the hosting services.

The following resources are available:

#P0: Introduction to IWMW 2016 by Brian Kelly. Tuesday 21 June 2016 from 13.45-14.00

#P1: Requirements Are Hypotheses: How Lean UX Can Help You Develop Better Products by Neil Allison. Tuesday 21 June 2016 from 14.00-14.45

#P2: Skin Deep: Using Cosmetic Improvement to Drive Real Change by Gareth Edwards. Tuesday 21 June 2016 from 14.45-15.30

#P3: Managing Change: Leading Horses to Water by Rob van Tol. Wednesday 22 June 2016 from 09.00-09.45

#P4: Building a New University Website – an Agile Content Case Study by Richard Prowse. Wednesday 22 June 2016 from 09.45-10.15

#P5: Establishing Digital at the Heart of the University by Gareth Saunders. Wednesday 22 June 2016 from 10.15-10.45

#P6: Building a digital team (almost) from scratch by Duncan Stephen. Wednesday 22 June 2016 from 11.15-11.45

#P7: Prototyping the Digital University by Chris Scott and Anja Hazebroek. Wednesday 22 June 2016 from 11.45-12.15

#P8: 100 to 1(ish) – Unifying a Sprawling Web Estate by Richard West. Wednesday 22 June 2016 from 12.15-12.45

#P9: The Google Analytics of Things by Martin Hawksey. Wednesday 22 June 2016 from 14.00-14.30

#P10: It’s Time to Get Personal by Piero Tintori. Thursday 23 June 2016 from 09.00-09.30

#P11: Working With External Partners by Mandy Phillips and Mark Simpson. Thursday 23 June 2016 from 09.30-10.00

#P12: Right Here; Right Now: Providing the Information your Students Need and your Regulator Requires by Marieke Guy. Thursday 23 June 2016 from 10.00-10.30

#P13: When your website is a ‘national embarrassment’ the only way is up by Matt Jukes. Thursday 23 June 2016 from 11.15-12.00

#P14: Learning From the Past; Looking to the Future by Mike McConnell, Claire Gibbons, Mandy Phillips, Remeny Armitage Royle and Piero Tintori. Thursday 23 June 2016 from 12.00-12.30

#P15: IWMW 2016: Conclusions by Brian Kelly. Thursday 23 June 2016 from 12.30-12.45

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Reflections on #IWMW16: The Talks

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 Sep 2016

About IWMW 2016

IWMW 2016 logoIWMW 2016, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place at Liverpool John Moores University on 21-23 June. This is the first of a number of posts which provides the event organiser’s perspective of the event.

For those who are unfamiliar with the event, the IWMW series was launched in 1997 to support members of institutional web management teams, to ensure that they are kept up-to-date with technological developments, could learn from the approaches to management of large-scale web services from others across the higher education community and develop and strengthen professional networks with others in the community.

As described in a post on Reflections on #IWMW14 the event has been undergoing a transformation in recent years: in 2014, after 17 years of JISC support for an event which was delivered by UKOLN, the event was run jointly by myself (Brian Kelly, the founder of the event) and JISC Netskills. However due to the closure of JISC Netskills it was not possible to continue the collaboration so last year I had responsibility for organising the event. Following the success of last year’s event, this year’s event was enlarged, with advice on the theme for the event and suggested specific topics and speakers being provided by the IWMW 2016 advisory group.

The theme of this year’s event was “Understanding Users; Managing Change; Delivering Services“: an idea which emerged during the Advisory Group discussions and which, I feel, nicely summarises the work of those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and related digital channels. Several of the talks at the event directly addressed the event theme and these are highlighted in the following summary of the event, together with details of additional sessions which did not directly relate to the main theme.

The Plenary Sessions

Understanding Users

An Introduction to IWMW 2016

IWMW 2016: statisticsIn the opening talk in which I provided an Introduction to IWMW 2016, I outlined the theme for this year’s event and explained why it was appropriate to use the theme of “Understanding Users” for the introduction talk itself. (Note the slides used in the talk are available on Slideshare and embedded at the end of this blog post).

The final count for the numbers of participants at IWMW 2016 was 140. Over 50 (37%) of those who answered the question were attending their first IWMW event, with a further 32 (26%) having attended only 1 or 2 previous events and 21 (17%) having attended 3-5 previous events. Of the remaining 16%, 12 (10%) had attended 6-10 and 8 (6%) over 11 of the previous events.

It seems that the event has been successful in attracting a new audience of those who are involved in institutional web management activities, but what of the make-up of the speakers and workshop facilitators? There were 29 speakers in the initial programme, although this increased to 34 after including details of the panelists in the panel session held on the final day. Of this total 9 (29%) were female. The proportion of female speakers at this year’s event is slightly larger than the average over all 20 IWMW events (24%) – but it would be good to see this proportion increased further at future events.

Of the 140 delegates at this year’s event 114 (81%) worked at a higher educational institution and 4 (3%) at a related HE agency. There were 18 delegates (13%) who worked for commercial companies with 3 delegates (2%) involved in the organisation of the event.

Requirements Are Hypotheses: How Lean UX Can Help You Develop Better Products / Skin Deep: Using Cosmetic Improvement to Drive Real Change

The opening talk on “Requirements Are Hypotheses: How Lean UX Can Help You Develop Better Products” at IWMW 2016 was given by Neil Allison, University of Edinburgh. A summary of the talk has been published on the IWMW 2016 blog. Comments on the talk included:

Neil Allison’s talks are often very valuable, bringing a much needed UX perspective that is sometimes missing from HE web managers’ thinking. There was a danger that this talk would cover the same ground as some of his previous talks, but this was largely avoided.

  • I always enjoy Neil’s talks. He has a gentle, laid-back approach which I find soothing and enjoyable. Some useful insights, thank you.
  • How it should be done – memorable slides
  • This was really helpful in identifying very useful approaches to gathering requirements. I really like ‘requirements are assumptions’!
  • Plenty to go away and do – which I like

The second talk in the opening session entitled “Skin Deep: Using Cosmetic Improvement to Drive Real Change” was given by Gareth Edwards, University of Greenwich. A summary of the talk has been published on the IWMW 2016 blog. Comments on the talk included:

  • Really nice seeing these types of case study talks. Really liked that is focused on what didn’t work as well as well as what did.
  • Really an excellent talk.
  • One of the great things was Gareth’s honesty about the project

Managing Change

The session on “Managing Change” launched the second day of the event and featured three talks: Rob van Tol, Precedent opened the session with a talk on “Managing Change: Leading Horses to Water“, followed by Richard Prowse, University of Bath on “Building a New University Website – an Agile Content Case Study” and Gareth Saunders, University of St Andrews on “Establishing Digital at the Heart of the University“.

Rob van Tol gave the first of two sponsored talks at the event. Comments on this talk included:

  • Very interesting to hear about the way different universities have approached change. Rob’s a great speaker.
  • Took a while for me to get into this but as the talk developed I could really see how wide was the scope of different approaches for different Universities and different projects. Actually very interesting.
  • Good overview of the various approaches universities have taken toward the digital challenge, all delivered in Rob’s inimitable  

Richard Prowse has been a regular speaker and workshop facilitator at recent IWMW events. Comments on this talk included:

  • Always love listening to Rich and what’s going on at Bath. They seem to consistently be the ones that we look to for advancing our working practices. So it’s always a pleasure to learn more.
  • Another excellent presenter. It’s been great to follow Bath’s journey. I did find myself intrigued by some of the examples; what to Rich is ‘content work’ seems to me to fall into the category mentioned by Claire Gibbons of ‘just getting on with it’ albeit Bath approach with a rigour and skillset which is commendable.
  • Great story, great insight and honesty. Example of what’s great about IWMW. Always look forward to experiences from Bath staff.
  • Really great! Lots to think about. Definitely applicable to us.
  • Very interesting. Also a good honest presentation.
  • It is always fascinating to hear what is going on at the University of Bath. They are doing great work, and I appreciate the opportunity they give us in sharing their working methods
  • Lovely presentation that was practical, honest and very human. One of my favourite presentations of the conference.

Gareth Saunders has also been a regular participant at IWMW events. Comments on his talk included:

  • Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Considering the pain and suffering that St Andrews have been through, it was wonderful hearing how well they were doing. A rival to Bath definitely in the making for leading the way I think.
  • The second time I’ve seen this talk and just as engaging. Lovely to see St Andrews making progress.
  • I enjoyed Gareth laying bare the madness of multiple priorities and how they are trying to escape that. Convinced me that processes are so important, and structures should support them.

Delivering Services

The theme of “Delivering Services” took place before lunch on the second day and featured three talks: Building a digital team (almost) from scratch by Duncan Stephen, SRUC; Prototyping the Digital University by Anja Hazebroek, University of Hull and Chris Scott, Headscape and 100 to 1(ish) – Unifying a Sprawling Web Estate by Richard West, Jisc.

Duncan Stephen, SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) was a first-time speaker at an IWMW event. Comments on his talk included:

  • Useful insight and bounced nicely off Gareth’s preceding presentation.
  • Highlighted the difficulties faced by smaller web teams and situations where one person has many hats.
  • Interesting hearing how smaller institutions are fairing and the struggles they have. Rather funny as well.
  • Duncan won the best image with the ‘wtf’ and his talk was very well delivered and engaging. Would have liked a bit about what the new UX patterns they are coming up with are, but again that is my tactical bias coming up and there probably wasn’t time.

Anja Hazebroek, University of Hull and Chris Scott, Headscape gave a double-act. Comments on this talk included:

  • I think this was preaching to the choir in that most of us would want to prototype. What was useful was the codification of some of the aspects and techniques. The 4x mobile screenshot before and after image was incredibly powerful.
  • Really useful stuff. Exactly what we need to be thinking about over the next few months.
  • Some good stuff here about prototyping but also the experience of working with an agency.
  • Great session that emphasized the need for the universities to invest in understanding their customers/consumers better, and demonstrated the value that agencies can bring to the table, given the chance.

Richard West, Jisc was another first-time speaker at a IWMW event. Comments on his talk included:

  • I liked the mentioning of lots of specific tools and activities, and they managed to make the two speaker thing work well. Especially liked ‘shelter the team’
  • I think this is something we’re all struggling with, so it’s always worth hearing how others do it.
  • A great case study of some interesting work. I think the sort of project discussed here is very relevant to a lot of HE web managers, so I will take a careful look at my slides and notes and see if there are approaches worth adopting.

Web Analytics and Beyond

The session on “Web Analytics and Beyond” took place after lunch on the second day and featured a single speaker: Martin Hawksey, ALT, on “Google Analytics of Things“. Comments on this talk included:

  • Martin’s usual brain dump of ideas and possibilities. Sparked a number of lines of thought for me. Would be amazing to get Martin in touch with someone now ahead of next year’s event in order for someone who is less of a google ninja to be able to present a case-study based on Martin’s insight / support.
  • Wow, hadn’t known about half this stuff and the power. I think it could have benefited from giving more specific ideas of real life applications rather than just doing cool things.
  • Some excellent ideas here! More like this would be great.
  • Felt that tons of people found this a eye opening and thought provoking glimpse of analytics. Really enjoy talks that let us speculate and dream a little.

Beyond the Institution

The third day began with talks on the theme of “Beyond the Institution” featuring speakers who worked for organisations which were not higher educational institutions but worked closely with the HE sector: It’s Time to Get Personal by Piero Tintori, TERMINALFOUR; Working With External Partners by Mandy Phillips (Liverpool John Moores University) and Mark Simpson (Mando) and Right Here; Right Now: Providing the Information your Students Need and your Regulator Requires by Marieke Guy, QAA.

Piero Tintori gave the second sponsored talk. Comments on this talk included:

  • Thought Piero hit the right balance between promoting his product and being honest about personalisation. This was probably the most valuable presentation of the conference for me
  • Surprisingly good, and Piero managed to avoid turning it into too obvious a sales pitch. Personalisation and matters such as remarketing are areas I have not worked in much, so there were some valuable lessons here. We have been talking about remarketing here, so it is very pertinent. I will once again look carefully at the slides to see what practices I should adopt.
  • Great things to think about, but I can’t help thinking if Uni’s non personalised experiences need so much work that we may be trying to run before we can walk. Done badly we can make terrible experiences, personal. But enjoyed the talk.
  • I thought this talk was fantastic, very interesting, and not an ounce of sales. I was extremely impressed.

Mandy Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University and Mark Simpson, Mando provided a double act on “Working With External Partners“. Comments on this talk included:

  • Great insight into how we can work with external agencies and use analytics to identify what users do, rather than what they say they need. We want to get in touch with Mandy to talk about Sitecore, which is one of the CMS solutions we are considering for Kent.
  • Interesting ideas and approach.
  • Really interesting. Food for thought about the value that working with outside experts can have on the work we do.
  • Good and interesting. Not so relevant to me though personally.
  • Honest, no-nonsense talk about the value that agencies can bring, given the chance. Valuable and insightful.
  • This talk had an interesting dynamic. I was grateful again that this didn’t turn into a sales pitch. However I didn’t really find much relevance to my situation, although I am sure it will have been of use to others who work closely with an agency.
  • Good overview of the strides that can be made by working constructively with partners to fill gaps in provision

Marieke Guy gave a talk on Right Here; Right Now: Providing the Information your Students Need and your Regulator Requires. Comments on this talk included:

  • Interesting and a bit scary! Do we need to do more to cover ourselves as web publishing gatekeepers? I think the answer is yes!
  • Possibly the most informative and useful talk of the whole event. It is clear that there is a lot for us to be on top of, so I will be doing a lot of research to make sure we are up to scratch. I am very grateful for Marieke bringing these issues to our attention.
  • Fab and practical — one of the most practical talks so far.
  • Congratulations to the fair Marieke on making a very dry subject highly engaging and creating a sense of urgency
  • A must-have talk for anyone working in HE right now.
  • Fresh insight into what the CMA means for us.
  • Loved listening to Marieke. Lots of really useful information that is affecting us right now and some useful nuggets of things we can be doing and thinking about.

When Things Go Wrong!

Matt Jukes gave the final plenary talk on “When your website is a ‘national embarrassment’ the only way is up” – a talk which was the highest ranked plenary, with two-thirds of the respondents rating the talk as excellent and the remaining third ranking it as very good! Comments on the talk included:

  • Very good speaker.
  • Very funny talk, Matt was the best speaker of the bunch!
  • A nice final talk that showed everything can benefit from a bit of user focus.
  • Quite an eye-opener.
  • A fantastic final talk usually when people are already thinking of leaving!
  • Very entertaining but also some good learning points. Great way to wind up the presentations!
  • Fantastic, very engaging and a good insight at real issues.
  • Honest, funny, informative. Great perspective on things. Public beta is a great, and brave, idea.
  • My favourite talk, Matt was honest and engaging and his experiences were really useful to hear about.
  • It’s great to hear from a non-HE organisation. I was looking forward to this talk, and it delivered. A fascinating case study.

Learning … and Planning

As has been the case for the past three IWMW events, prior to the concluding reflections on the event a panel chaired by Mike McConnell were invited to address a number of issues. The following comments were made about the panel session:

  • One of the most valuable sessions of the conference. A great way to think about the future and ‘big picture’ issues. It might be nice to get some more interactivity, such as inviting delegates to comment on the topics (as opposed to asking questions to the experts on stage) and perhaps even incorporating some comments from remote viewers.
  • The panel done well!
  • I may have missed the opportunity to feed in questions before the panel session. The questions were useful, and the 6 P’s on the slide hit just the right note!
  • Highlight from the session, which I’ve already used in a meeting was Mandy’s worry that Uni’s treat CMA like Health and Safety and become too risk averse about selling courses.
  • This could have benefitted from the Twitter wall being back up to get audience reaction and participation. Mike is always excellent at this and the questions were good. Felt the panelists, although good, said much the same kind of thing. If I’m honest, I felt there was a bit of a push of agendas rather than true comment.
  • The panel session was well-chaired and the input from the panel was thoughtful and well-delivered. However, they were pretty much in violent agreement both with each other and the audience which does not make the most of this format.

The Parallel Sessions

In addition to the plenary talks and panel session there were also eight workshop sessions which lasted for 90 minutes (on Migrating People to a New CMS; Digital Fire Fighting; Leadership 101 – Top Tips for Steering the Ship Through the Seas of Change; 10 Years of a Web Team of One: the Lessons Learnt; Rich Media Content: How to Maximise User Impact; Real-world Natural Language Processing for Higher Education; Design a Content Strategy to Optimise Engagement With International Users and Debunking the Myths of WordPress & External Hosting) and eight master classes which lasted for 2 hours 45 minutes (on Agile Usability Testing; Future-proof Your Content Using an Adaptive Approach; IWMW In Miniature; Corporate Use of Social Media; Google Analytics Workout; Planning Digital Transformation for Old Skool Universities; Digital Governance: Tools and Practices for Managing the Content Chaos and Writing Well for the Web).


This is the first of a number of posts about IWMW 2016. This initial post has summarised the content of the event. Subsequent posts will describe participants’ thoughts on the event (what they liked and the areas they felt could be improved); the role of the sponsors in supporting the event; the technological infrastructure used to support the event and, perhaps most importantly, plans for IWMNW 2017.

As mentioned earlier the slides used in the opening talk are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

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IWMW In Miniature

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26 May 2016

IWMW – the Annual Event

IWMW in miniatureIWMW, the Institutional Web Management Workshop, celebrates its 20th anniversary on 21-23 June, with the IWMW 2016 event taking place at Liverpool John Moores University. As is the norm, the event provides a wide range of plenary talks (14 in total) and parallel sessions (18 in total from which participants can  attend 2 sessions).

Recent posts on the IWMW blog have highlighted the benefits participants have gained from previous events. Looking at some of the comments made in six of the xx guest posts published to date:

  •  “We have an incredible community. It still amazes me that as a sector we can be so open with each other about our challenges, and so willing to freely share our knowledge”. Duncan Stephen in a post in which he reflects on “What Six Years of IWMW Tells Us About Developments in Digital“.
  • The IWMW is more than a community…it is about the people you meet and the friendships that you form as a result of attending. That is what the IWMW means to me.” Ian St John in a post which describes how “IWMW – More Than Just a Community“.
  • I clearly remember the relief I felt at that time: relief that I was not alone and there were people I could ask for help from, and relief that everyone else seemed to be grappling with many of the issues that I was grappling with.” Rob Bristow in a post looking back at how ““In 1999 I was a freshly fledged World Wide Web Coordinator”“.
  • [We have] fostered a community of like-minded folks, faced the same issues, the same changing tech, the same battles and the same ever-changing Internet landscape”. Sharon Steeples in a post which concludes that “We’ve come a long, long way together“.
  • Lots of knowledge gained and shared; a warm and welcoming community; new friends (now old friends)“. Deborah Fern on “A Brief Encounter”.
  • All right, but apart from the knowledge, information, education, wine, discussion, enthusiasm, contacts and community, what has the IWMW ever done for us?“. Kevin Mears’ answer to the question “What has IWMW done for me?“.

it is interesting to note the strong emphasis which has been placed on the community aspects of the event and the fostering of a strong sense of identify in facing shared challenges.

But the IWMW event only takes place once every year. Wouldn’t in be great if smaller events which reflect the tradition of sharing and learning from one’s peers could be held more frequently.

IWMW In Miniature

A master class session at IWMW 2016 entitled “IWMW In Miniature” will seek to explore such possibilities. As described in the session abstract:

Made use of a good crisis? Increased clickthrough? Survived a reduced budget? Demonstrated ROI? Made a business case? Delighted a user? Improved a pain point?

Based on a successful format seen at Scottish Web Folk, JBoye and elsewhere we will hear from at least 10 organisations about a range of successes and challenges. Each organisation signing up to this session is asked to prepare up to 10 minutes of insight into a recent success or challenge they have faced. We will also be setting aside 5 minutes for questions/further exploration per topic. You can deliver this insight in whatever style suits you best – talk to the group, prepare slides, use props, bring Haribo; the choice is yours. A great, informal chance to discuss issues which matter to you and your organisation with peers; build your network and take back actionable insights to your desk.

To help the session run smoothly, it would be great if you could drop Duncan Ireland, the session facilitator an email ( with a sentence or two explaining what you will cover and whether or not you have any particular requirements.

Registration for the IWMW 2016 event is currently open, and places are available for this master class session (code B3).  If you have never attended an IWMW event previously, don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience for yourself what the IWMW bloggers have been writing about! And who knows, if you attend the “IWMW In Miniature” session you may meet up with like-minded folk who would be keen on building on the success of the Scottish Web Folk regional meetings.


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IWMW 2016 Now Open For Bookings!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 May 2016

IWMW 2016 home page

I’m pleased to announce that bookings for the IWMW 2016 event are now open. This year’s event will be held at Liverpool John Moores University on 21-23 June

The IWMW 2016 event is the leading event for those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and other digital channels within the UK’s higher and further educational sector. The event, the Institutional Web Management Workshop, was founded in 1996 so this year marks the event’s 20th anniversary. We are planning to celebrate this special occasion, with a conference dinner being held at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

As can be seen from the IWMW 2016 timetable there are a range of topics being address at the event.  The theme for this year’s event is “Understanding Users; Managing Change; Delivering Services” which nicely summarises the main challenges which web managers are currently facing.  In the opening strand on the first day we will hear from speakers from the universities of Edinburgh and Greenwich about the approaches they are taking in providing effective services to their user communities. The second day will provide six talks which will explore the approaches institutions are taking in managing change – in order to what one speaker describes as “Establishing Digital at the Heart of the University” – whilst continuing to deliver services.

Beyond the main event themes additional talks will explore analytics, provide insights from those working beyond the higher educational sector and, in the final session, learning lessons from when things go wrong.

A key aspect of the IWMW event series has been the emphasis placed on ensuring that participants are able to actively engage in sessions. A number of workshop sessions, which last for 90 minutes, will be held. In addition following last year’s innovation of the master classes we will be running a number of these sessions, lasting for 2.5 hours, which will provide more time to explore relevant topic areas in depth.

IWMW blogThe IWMW blog has been established in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event and provide an opportunity to reflect on the history of the development of institutional web services and the growth of other digital channels. In the most recent post Stephen Duncan looks back on his involvement with the event in a post entitled “What Six Years of IWMW Tells Us About Developments in Digital“. In the post Stephen describes how “We have an incredible community. It still amazes me that as a sector we can be so open with each other about our challenges, and so willing to freely share our knowledge”.

The establishment and growth of a community has been another key aspect of IWMW events, as can be seen from reading the blog posts, with other speakers feeling that over the past twenty years we have “fostered a community of like-minded folks, faced the same issues, the same changing tech, the same battles and the same ever-changing Internet landscape”; we have “had a lot of fun and developed strong connections across the UK’s web management community“; there has been “Lots of knowledge gained and shared; a warm and welcoming community; new friends (now old friends)”; discovered “a community to share and discuss ideas, meet people and look at things from a different perspective” and event suggestions that the IWMW event is “being a bit like Glastonbury“!

If you’ve not attended an IWMW event previously, listen to what your peers are saying on the IWMW blog. Would you want to miss out on the 20th anniversary celebrations?! If you have attended IWMW events previously, you will know how valuable it can be – but if you can’t attend this year perhaps you can encourage colleagues to attend.

Note that one change this year is that accommodation will not be provided in the event fee, since the host institution is not able to provide accommodation for conferences. However there are a wide range of affordable hotels and other forms of accommodation available in Liverpool city centre. We will be providing details of accommodation. Also note that the obviously the event fee is less than previous years – but, thanks to the generosity of the event sponsors, we have been able to reduce the cost of the event so it is now less than last year’s event for those who did not require accommodation!

Please book early, so that we can identify the popular parallel sessions and, if necessary, make plans for additional activities for this memorable event!


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Do You Have Memories Of IWMW Events?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Apr 2016

Recent posts on the IWMW blog

20 Years of IWMW!

This years annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2016, will be the 20th in the series. The event was launched in July 1997 with a two-day event. Although initially envisaged as a one-off event the feedback for the first event made it clear that there was interest in continuation of an event for those with responsibilities for management institutional web services. The event grew to be hosted over 3 days (with one exception, in 2010, when concerns over cutbacks in the sector led to the event being held over two days for that year only). The event peaked in popularity in 2009 when it attracted 197 participants. The Jisc cessation of funding for UKOLN in 2013 led to concerns that IWMW 2013 would be the final event. However participants at the event – and across the wider web management community – made it clear that there was continued interest in the event. The event was relaunched in 2014 (organised in conjunction with Netskills and hosted at Northumbria University) and in 2015 was held at Edge Hill University. As part of the transition from an event which was funded by the Jisc, an enlarged advisory group has been set up to oversee the planning for the IWMW 2016 event.

19 Years of IWMW Online Content!

The IWMW event is probably unique in long-standing IT-related events in the UK’s higher education community in the continued availability of the event web site content, which includes timetables, titles and abstracts for talks, speaker biographies and, for much of the content, access to speakers’ slides. This content is available on the original UKOLN web site (from 1997-2013) and the web site since then. In addition, in case of loss of the original content  as well as providing a more conference set of resources, much of the content is also available on Lanyrd.

Your Memories

Over the past 19 years there have been over 2,500 registrations at the events (although of course, many delegates will have attended multiple events). Judging from the comments received on the evaluation forms over the years the event has been highly regarded, not only for providing an opportunity to update one’s professional skills but also to develop one’s professional network – and also to have some fun!

The IWMW blog was launched recently in order to document memories of the event. In recent posts my former colleague Marieke Guy alludes to the IWMW song in her post on “IWMW: On the Web, the World Wide Web” which summaries her long-standing participation at the event as a delegate, speaker, facilitator and event co-chair. Marieke has also shared her thoughts on other aspects of the event in her posts on My Top 10 IWMW Session Titles and My Top 10 IWMW Photos.

In another post by a long-standing participant at IWMW event – “Friends, blivets and Haribo” – Debbie Brooke reflected on the ten events she has attended, as a delegate, workshop facilitator and local event organises and conclude “For me the friends I have made is definitely the best part of being involved with something as wonderful as IWMW for so many years“.

Many of the local event organisers have been invited to reflect on the events they helped organised with the first being “Ricky Rankin on IWMW 2001“. However a number of the local organisers have now left the sector or (like Ricky Rankin) have retired. This is to be expected for such a long-running event, so it will be important to capture memories before these numbers increase.

Other participants at IWMW events left the higher education sector following the economic turmoil and cuts which have affected the sector since 2008. In “A Brief EncounterDeborah Fern reflected on her first event in 2009: “My overwhelming memory was the relief in finding a like-minded bunch of people facing similar challenges to myself“. The following year was turbulent with talks of public sector cuts and a general feeling of gloomy times to come in the HE sector which was reflected in many of the talks at the IWMW 2010 event. A passionate ‘call to arms’ by Ranjit Sidhu helped lift Deborah’s gloom and fill her ‘to do list’ for the months to come: “So as an optimist (with realistic tendencies) I came back from Sheffield fired up to lead my team through the challenges to come as evidenced in my blog post at the time“. Sadly shortly after publishing her post Deborah was to become a victim of those cuts (and yet another departmental restructure) – her job disappeared as the University removed a level of management to cut costs, Fortunately Deborah subsequently got a job as a Project Manager for a digital agency and is still “destroying chaos (organising project teams) and herding cats (organising clients) to this day“. In her post Deborah concluded “So what did the IWMW events mean to me? Lots of knowledge gained and shared; a warm and welcoming community; new friends (now old friends); fun nights and horrible hangovers – I loved every minute of it and long may it continue!”.

IWMW2015: sketchnoteThe impact 0f IWMW events was also described in Kevin Mears‘ post which asked “What has IWMW done for me?“. Kevin (who is best know at IWMW events for his sketchnotes of the talks at the events) described how the “experience of his first [IWMW event] at the University of Essex was a wonderful realisation that here was a conference where I could speak to people experiencing similar problems with an understanding of university cultures“. Kevin concluded by paraphrasing the famous Monty Python quotation: “All right, but apart from the knowledge, information, education, wine, discussion, enthusiasm, contacts and community, what has the IWMW ever done for us?

Kevin is a member of the IWMW 2016 Advisory Group. Two other Advisory Group members have also contributed gust posts to the blog: Andrew Millar and Claire Gibbons

Andrew Millar launched the series of guest posts with his “Reflections on Recent IWMW Events” and concluded by describing his expectations of this year’s event from his perspective as a recently-appointed Head of Web Services at the University of Dundee: “What I hope for the conference, more than anything else, is that it continues to do what it does best. To bring together a community of people, to share openly and encourage but most of all to inspire us all to greatness in our own spheres of service.”

Claire Gibbons came to her first IWMW event in Bath in 2000, as ‘a slightly scared new Web Officer in her twenties’. In her guest post on “It Started in the Year 2000 – For Me” she looks back at her “love affair with IWMW“. Claire, who has attended 15 IWMW events, provided an answer to the question “why do I keep going back?”. IWMW events provide:

an opportunity in a very hectic calendar to stop (Hammer Time) and spend time with very like-minded people, but also those who are willing to be a critical friend, challenge and stretch you, as well as encourage and support you and your ideas. Web (and, dare I say, digital) professionals aren’t rare, but they can struggle in HE institutions where their ideas and innovations may be ahead of where an institution is willing to go at that time – and IWMW is an opportunity to collectively come up with ideas to overcome these potential barriers

In recent years it was noticeable that IWMW events was attracting significant numbers of first time attendees. One of these first-timers was Stratos Filalithis, the acting head for the University Website Programme at the University of Edinburgh. Stratos attended his first IWMW event in 2014 – and, as he described in his post on “Any 20th Year Anniversary is Significant!” discovered “a community to share and discuss ideas, meet people and look at things from a different perspective“.

Although many of the guest posts have focussed on the community aspects of the event, specific content areas have also been addressed. In particular in her guest post on “The Portal is Dead. Long Live the Portal!Tracey Stanley, a librarian who has spoken at the IWMW 2002, 2003 and 2004 events, looks back at the panel session on “Avoiding Portal Wars” she participated in at the IWMW 2002 event. Tracey described how back in 2002 “We were all getting very excited about web portals in higher education back then, and many of us put these at the centre of our institutional web strategies“. Reflecting on the environment 14 years ago Tracey feels that:

The Institutional Portal was perhaps seen at that time as a panacea by Senior Managers, Marketing and IT staff alike. Managers and Marketing wanted to separate out content for prospective students and external audiences and put it onto a flashy institutional website over which they could have complete control. Internal Communications were keen to find new ways of presenting internally-focused content – and the Institutional Portal offered the promise of delivering this in a way which segmented it according to the different internal audiences, so that users were only presented with the stuff that is most relevant to them. IT staff were keen to implement single-sign on so that the Institutional Portal could act as a one stop shop to all the web systems and services increasingly proliferating on campus – from the Library system to the Student Information System, and the VLE.

But hands-up if you are using the hot institutional portal technologies of the time, such as IBM Websphere, uPortal (the open source portal offering), Luminis, and Sharepoint? Tracey feels that although there is still interest in institutional portals, she feels that in the UK the concept hasn’t gone much beyond the original early adopters, possibly because the model of aggregating everything into a single place on a web page perhaps makes less sense when increasingly users are accessing content through their smartphone or tablet.

An Opportunity To Contribute!

The IWMW blog provides an opportunity for those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and other digital channels to contribute their thoughts. In addition the 20th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect of the development of the community and the services provides over this significant period for the development of online services across the higher education sector.

A number of potential contributors have already been approached. However now that 11 guest posts have been published it is timely to open up contributions more widely.  As mentioned details of the content and speakers for all of the IWMW events is available on Lanyrd, which may help trigger memories. But for me such approaches to digital preservation (the preservation of the content itself) is insufficient – we also need the stories which can bring the content to life and provide the contextualisation to appreciate the relevance of the past to planning for the future.

So if you would like to contribute a guest post to the IWMW blog please get in touch (email to’m looking forward to hearing from you.

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Brief Thoughts on Day 1 of the Jisc Digital Festival 2016

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Mar 2016

The Jisc Digital Festival 2016

The two-day Jisc Digital Festival began early today and continues tomorrow. This was my first Jisc event for some time and provided a valuable opportunity to gain an overview of Jisc developments and, perhaps more importantly, meet many friends and former colleagues. Unfortunately due to family commitments I was only there for the day and had to leave at coffee time – in addition I spent most of my time talking to people and therefore didn’t attend any of the many parallel sessions. However I did attend the opening plenary which provided useful insights into current Jisc thinking.

Jisc digital festival 2016

The Power of Digital

The opening plenary session, entitled “The Power of Digital” had four plenary speakers: Dr Paul Feldman, chief executive, Jisc; Professor David Maguire, chair, Jisc; Professor Andrew Harrison, professor of practice at University of Wales Trinity St David and director of Spaces That Work Ltd and Professor Donna Lanclos, associate professor for anthropological research at UNC Charlotte.

The sides used by the speakers are available on Slideshare and are also embedded below. There is therefore no need for me to comment on the details of the opening talk. However one slide in particular caught my eye: the overview of the three key areas of work provided by the Jisc for the sector:

Slides from opening Jisc plenary talk

As can be seen Jisc do three main things for the sector:

  1. Provide shared digital infrastructure and services. This includes the Janet network, shared data centres (formerly known as Mimas), Eduroam and geospatial services provided I understand by Edina) with new services in the area of learning analytics, research data management and “FE college in a box” currently being developed.
  2. Sector wide deals with IT vendors and publishers. In the past the focus would probably have been on deals negotiated with publishers and have primarily been of interest to librarians, together with deals for large data sets. However it was interesting to note that the current emphasis is on the deals with IT vendors, with deals with Microsoft and Amazon being mentioned.
  3. Expert and trusted advice and practical assistance. This includes advice on open access, cloud services and cyber security (which I’m familiar with) and “financial x-ray” which is new to me, with plans to move into FE area reviews and a national monograph strategy.


I was particularly pleased to see the high profile which was given to the importance of Jisc’s work in negotiating deals for institutional use of Cloud services, such as those provided by Microsoft and Amazon. In the past legal issues such as data protection and uncertainties of the robustness of the Safe Harbor agreement were cited as barriers to the widespread deployment of such services.

The Jisc web site contains brief details of the deals which Jisc have negotiated for the sector, which includes deals for Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for Education and Amazon Web Services, although details of the provides of file synch and share services do not seem to be available.


I should also add that at the event there was an announcement of a deal for Amazon Web Services, which is described in more detail on the Jisc blog. This announcement reminded me that back in 2008 Jeff Barr of Amazon Web Services gave a talk at the IWMW 2007 event on “Building Highly Scalable Web Applications” – although it appears that the deal is for use by researchers and not for those providing large-scale web services.

But what did I think was missing from this overview?

It was interesting to note that although open access continues to be of great relevance to Jisc, open source software no longer seems to be being mentioned. Funding for the Jisc OSS Watch service ceased some time ago and advice and support for the sector on procuring open source software products or on developing open source software does not seem to be provided. In addition, although there was an expectation that software developed by Jisc projects would be available as open source, it does not appear that current services being developed or procured will be as available as open source. Perhaps we should accept that openness tends to be popular in times of growth (as we saw in the early part of the 21st century)  but at a time of cutbacks openness is deemed no longer to be relevant?

I also noticed that the relevance of Wikipedia also appeared to be dismissed as part of the ‘wild west’.  This made me wonder whether such community-led approaches to content development were at odds with the Jisc view on the importance of “expert and trusted advice”.

Finally I wondered not that Jisc has negotiated deals for the mundane office products and we have a reliable networking environment, with many (but not all) users owning their own powerful devices, where the support for local development work will be provided. In the past the DevCSI initiative was successful in motivating institutional development activities; although the Jisc Summer of Student Innovation has been valuable in providing students with skills in IT development, such expertise will be lost to the sector when they graduate.

jisclive tweetPerhaps the most valuable comment made in the opening plenary was the comment by Dr Paul Feldman, chief executive, Jisc. As summarised in a tweet on the @jisclive account:

Feldman: Jisc is here to support institutions innovate and use technology. We want to hear what you need at #digifest16

I welcome this invitation to give comments and feedback. I’ve shared my thoughts of the areas I’ve welcomed and the gaps. I’d welcome thoughts from others.

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IWMW 2016: Call For Submissions Open

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Feb 2016

IWMW 2016, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at Liverpool John Moores University on 21-23 June 2016.

The theme of this year’s event is “Understanding Users; Managing Change; Delivering Services“.

The event, the 20th in the series, is aimed at those with responsibilities for providing and managing institutional Web and digital services and provides the premier event for professional development and networking opportunities.

Since the event was launched in 1997 the web has evolved from providing online access to the University prospectus to being the focus across a range of mission-critical University systems. The web is no longer simply a technological platform but is instigating significant organisational change, with the term ‘digital’ sometimes being used to highlight such changes. These changes may have been driven by economic and political factors, by technological developments or by changing user requirements and expectations.

Despite such continual changes there will still be a need to provide a diverse range of online services, ranging from the provision of the institutional web services, specialist online services to support teaching and learning and research activities and supporting use of social media and cloud services.

The delivery of services will be based on an understanding of the needs of the user, which will lead to the development of effective user experiences.

This year’s event has three main strands: (1) understanding users; (2) managing change and (3) delivering services. We invite submissions for plenary talks and workshop sessions (or other formats such as debates, panel sessions, lightning talks, birds of a feather sessions, etc.) which address these strands.

Submissions are invited which address these strands. Possible topics include but are not restricted to:

  • Strategic change
  • Reorganising web / digital teams
  • User experience
  • Usability and accessibility
  • User needs analysis
  • Supporting mobile users
  • Responsive design
  • Social media
  • SEO
  • Cloud services
  • Demonstrating the value of Web services
  • Digital governance
  • Staff development for web team members
  • Cultural or strategic change and technical innovations
  • Implications of developments beyond the web
  • Dealing with web agencies and procurement
  • Case studies on how teams deliver their service
  • The evolution of the institutional web team

Note that IWMW events have traditionally attracted core members of institutional Web teams such as developers, designers, content creators and managers. However, in light of the strategic importance of the Web this year the event will also seek to attract policy makers and senior managers who have responsibilities for facilitating organisational change.

Submitting Your Proposal

If you will to submit a proposal please send an email message to or use the online submission form (note the link for sharing is

We welcome proposals for:

  • Plenary talks, which typically last for 45 minutes
  • Workshop sessions, which typically last for 90 minutes. The workshop sessions should provide an opportunity for all workshop participants to engage actively with the topics covered in the session.

In addition to these areas we also invite proposals which may use other formats such as:

  • Panel sessions, in which speakers address a shared topic.
  • Debates, in which speakers argue for and against a motion.

Other ideas are also welcomed.

Your submission should contain the following information:

    • The proposed title of the talk or sessions.
    • A brief abstract.
    • For workshop sessions, a summary of how the session would be made interactive, with all participants able to contribute.
    • Other relevant information which will help the IWMW 2016 organisers to decide if the proposal is relevant and appropriate for the event.

If you would like to discuss a possible proposal, or if you have never attended previous IWMW events and would like to hear more about the event, feel free to contact a member of the IWMW 2016 advisory group.

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Should We Boycott

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 Dec 2015

The “Why Are We Not Boycotting” Event

I recently came across a tweet which announced an event which addressed the question “Why Are We Not Boycotting“.  As described on the Eventbrite booking page:

With over 36 million visitors each month, the San Francisco-based platform-capitalist company is hugely popular with researchers. Its founder and CEO Richard Price maintains it is the ‘largest social-publishing network for scientists’, and ‘larger than all its competitors put together’. Yet posting on is far from being ethically and politically equivalent to using an institutional open access repository, which is how it is often understood by academics.’s financial rationale rests on the ability of the venture-capital-funded professional entrepreneurs who run it to monetize the data flows generated by researchers. can thus be seen to have a parasitical relationship to a public education system from which state funding is steadily being withdrawn. Its business model depends on academics largely educated and researching in the latter system, labouring for for free to help build its privately-owned for-profit platform by providing the aggregated input, data and attention value.

The abstract concluded by summarising questions which will be address at the event, including:

  • Why have researchers been so ready to campaign against for-profit academic publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Taylor & Francis/Informa, but not against for-profit platforms such as, ResearchGate and Google Scholar?
  • Should academics refrain from providing free labour for these publishing companies too?
  • Are there non-profit alternatives to such commercial platforms academics should support instead?

The event was organised by The Centre for Disruptive Media and took place at Coventry University on 8 December 2015 from 3-6pm. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the event, but as this is an area of interest to me I thought I would publish this post, in which I argue that rather than boycotting we should make use it it (and similar services) by complementing institutional repository services with such services.

Background to My Interests

Slide on my use of academia.eduOver a year ago I was invited to give a talk on “Using Social Media to Build Your Academic Career” at a symposium in Brussels on “How to Build an Academic Career” for the five Flemish universities. Over the past two years I have also given modified versions of the talk  at the annual DAAD conference, the IRISS Research Unbound conference and for the iSchool@northumbria’s Research Seminar Series. As can be seen from the accompanying screenshot of one of the slides in the presentations I summarised the benefits which can be gained from making use of, based on personal experiences and recommending best practices.

My advice, as well as that provided by librarians and research support staff who promote use of social media by early career researchers, would appear to be in conflict with the general theme of the question “Why Are We Not Boycotting” event. But rather than address the issue of whether universities should own the online services they use I will present evidence of how existing services are being used and the implications of such usage patterns.

What Does The Evidence Suggest?

Personal Experiences

The slides for my a talk on “Using Social Media to Build Your Academic Career” are available on Slideshare. In the talk I described the benefits of making one’s research content available in popular places, rather than restricting access to niche web sites such as institutional repositories. In particular I described the SEO benefits which can be gained by using popular sites which contain links to research papers which are hosted on an institutional repository. This advice was based on findings published in a paper which asked “Can LinkedIn and Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” by myself and Jenny Delasalle and presented at the Open Repositories 2012 conference. I Googled for the paper using the search term “linkedin researchgate opus” in order to find the copy of the paper hosted on Opus, the University of Bath institutional repository; however the first hit was for the copy hosted by Researchgate. This suggested that hosting a research paper on a popular service such as or, in this case, Researchgate, would provide better discoverability for Google than use of an institutional repository.

But since Google will remember previous searches a more objective tool to use would be Duckduckgo, which does not keep a record of previous searches. In this case the search for “linkedin researchgate opus” found the paper hosted on Researchgate in second place. Using the full title of the paper, as shown the Duckduckgo search for “Can LinkedIn and Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” the order of the search results was (1) paper hosted by; (2) paper hosted by Opus instituional repository; (3) slides hosted on Slideshare and (4) paper hosted by Researchgate.

Personally. therefore, I have found benefits through use of and Researchgate in helping to raise the visibility of my research papers. But how popular in across the UK research sector?

Institutional Evidence

In order to answer this question a survey of use across the 24 Russell Group universities was carried out on 26 November 2015. The findings are given in the following table, with the link in the final column enabling the current results to be determined.

Ref. no. Institution No. of People Link
 1 University of Birmingham      5,408 [Link]
 2 University of Bristol      5,759 [Link]
3 University of Cambridge    12,770 [Link]
4 Cardiff University      5,372 [Link]
5 Durham University      5,198 [Link]
6 University of Exeter      5,346 [Link]
7 University of Edinburgh      9,252 [Link]
8 University of Glasgow      6,094 [Link]
9 Imperial College London      3,943 [Link]
10 King’s College London      8,568 [Link]
11 University of Leeds      8,396 [Link]
12 University of Liverpool      4,911 [Link]
13 London School of Economics       6,184 [Link]
14 University of Manchester     11,249 [Link]
15 Newcastle University     4,756 [Link]
16 University of Nottingham      7,963 [Link]
17 University of Oxford    19,709 [Link]
18 Queen Mary, University of London      4,083 [Link]
19 Queen’s University Belfast      2,639 [Link]
20 University of Sheffield      4,821 [Link]
21 University of Southampton       5,646 [Link]
22 University College London    13,481 [Link]
23 University of Warwick      6,457 [Link]
24 University of York      5,297 [Link]
Total 173,301


  • This information was collected on 9 December.
  • The figures were obtained by entering the name of the institution and using the highest number listed. As can be seen from the accompanying image there may be other variants of the name of the institution: the figure shown with therefore give an under-estimation of the number of items related to the institution (the total given in the table is for the largest variant of the institution’s name i.e. 4,744 in this example).

Note that a post entitled A Survey of Use of Researcher Profiling Services Across the 24 Russell Group Universities published in August 2012 summarised usage of several researcher profiling services  (Researchgate, ResearcherID, LinkedIn and Google Scholar Citations as well The survey found 33,812 users of from the Russell Group universities, which suggested that there has been an increase of nearly 400% in just over 3 years.

Also note that the findings of a survey carried out in February 2013, which compared take-up of and Researchgate described in a post entitled Profiling Use of Third-Party Research Repository Services found that Researchgate appeared to have entries for 426,414 researchers from Russell Group Universities, compared with 39,546 for


My personal experiences, together with the institutional evidence of suggest that the service is popular with the user community. But what of the issues raised at yesterday’s meeting?

Researchgate is a social networking-site

It seems to me that it will be difficult to find funding for the development of large-scale non-profit alternatives to commercial services such as and Researchgate. And even if funding to development and maintain the technical infrastructure was available, it may prove difficult to get researchers to see the benefits and  make their research content available on a new, unproven service, espcially in light of evidence such as that provided in a paper on “Open Access Meets Discoverability: Citations to Articles Posted to” which described how:

Based on a sample size of 34,940 papers, we find that a paper in a median impact factor journal uploaded to receives 41% more citations after one year than a similar article not available online,50% more citations after three years,and 73% after five years.

Coincidentally a week ago I came across a tweet by Jon Tenant which stated that:

Reminder: @ResearchGate and @academia are networking sites, not #openaccess repositories

As shown in the accompanying screenshot this tweet contained an image which highlighted some concerns regarding use of and Researchgate. However the first part of the tweet highlighted an important aspect of these services which are typically not provided by institutional repositories: @ResearchGate and @academia are networking sites.

It is worth expanding on this summary slightly, based n the evidence given above:

@ResearchGate and @academia are popular networking sites, with content likely to be more easily found using Google than content hosted on institutional repositories. 

In addition the services may also enhance the visibility of resources hosted on institutional repositories:

Providing links from @ResearchGate and @academia to content hosted on institutional repositories should prpvide SEO benefits, and make the content of institutional repositories more easily found using search engines such as Google. 

opus top author statistics for December 2015This was the conclusion based on a survey published in the paper which asked “Can LinkedIn and Enhance Access to Open Repositories?“. Revisiting personal experiences use of the University of Bath’s Opus repository usage service it can be seen that my papers are the most-viewed of all researchers (and, interestingly, my formed UKOLN colleagues Alex Ball and Emma Tonkin are to be found in the top 5 researchers based on download statistics).

This, of course, does not necessarily provide evidence of the quality of the papers; rather, as described in the paper cited above, it suggests that providing in-bound links from popular services will enhance the Google ranking of papers hosted by the repository.


Rather than developing open alternatives to and Researchgate my feeling is that the existing infrastructure of institutional repositories  services such as and Researchgate can be used in conjunction, with the institutional repository providing the robust and secure management of content, with researcher profiling services providing SEO benefits in addition to the community benefits these social networking services can provide for researchers.

Such use of multiple services will also help address the risk of cessation of services, which is often highlighted as a risk of use of commercial services where there is no formal contractual agreement. It should be noted, of course, that sectoral not-for-profit services may also be closed down, as has happened with the Jorum OER repository service, whose closure Jisc announced in June 2015.

Of course when researchers leave their host institution they may wish to ensure that they continue to have full read/write access to their publications, in which case storing copies of the papers in the commercial services themselves will provide continued access after they have left their host institution and can no longer manage their publications – this, incidentally, was the approach I took after leaving UKOLN, University of Bath in July 2013.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the relevance of commercial research profiling/repository services, whether the sector should look into providing open alternatives and the strategies needed to ensure that such approaches would be successful.

View Twitter: [Topsy] – []

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Back to the Future at #ILI2015

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 Oct 2015

Looking To The Past To Predict The Future

developments in wireless technology


On Monday Tony Hirst and myself co-facilitated a workshop on “Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond” which preceded the ILI 2015 conference. In the workshop we explored ways in which librarians could help to identify technological developments which may affect the range of services libraries provide and how broader trends may accelerate or hinder such developments.

In the workshop we discussed a number of techniques which may be useful in providing more flexible approaches to predicting the impact of technical developments, including asking questions such as “What did you notice for the first time?” and exploring answers to the question “Did you try the library?“.

We also discussed ways of playing with time, such as the describing the history of technologies in reverse, such as taking the recent EU decision on illegality of the “Safe Harbor” agreement and explore how that could lead to social media services such as Facebook being used in only 21 universities by 2005, with Mark Zuckerberg officially scrapping Facebook in October 2003 and then starting a course at Harvard University. Exploring possible reasons, such as loss of advertising income through changes in technologies, political developments and user hostility towards failures to make adequate tax payments, may be useful in identifying relevant trends which could occur in the future.

It is appropriate to highlight such approaches on #BackToFutureDay, with the BBC featuring articles on “Back to the Future II: What did it get right and wrong?” and, on their sports pages asking, with tongue in cheek, “How will sport look in another 30 years?

At the workshop we also discussed how we can learn from conferences: not only from the content of talks but also from the titles of talks and how they may be groups together. I pointed out that the ILI 2015 conference was featuring a number of talks on use of video in a variety of contexts which, it seemed to me, indicate a newish trend in the library sector.

The ILI conference was launched in 2000 and I have attended – and spoken at – all bar one of the conferences; the exception being ILI 2008 when I was speaking at a conference held at the National Library of Singapore. ILI conference web sites are available for a number of recent ILI conferences but no, I think, all 15 conferences. However since all of my slides are available online, I am able to view the titles and abstracts of my talks and the slides I used. I’ve provided links to the materials in the following table.

A number of things occur to me looking at this list:

  • In 2001 I described Jisc-funded work on “Advertising on Your Web Site” which investigated whether adverting revenue on Jisc service web sites could be used to fund the services. Following the crash around the turn of the century it was decided not to explore this possibility. It’s interesting that the more severe economic crash in 2008 buy azithromycin europe didn’t lead to a revival of interest.
  • ILI 2002 saw interest in mobile devices, in particular dedicated ebook readers and PDAs. How important would the Rocket ebook reader and the Palm PDA be for librarians, we discussed. That seems such a long time ago!
  • The talk on “Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software” at ILI 2004 could have been entitled “An Introduction to Web 2.0” – except for the fact that the term “Web 2.0” wasn’t popularized until late 2004! But it is interesting that the conference organisers felt that this area was of relevance to libraries in 2004.

Of course a richer insight into the trends relevant to Internet librarians would require access to the complete programme for the 15 ILI conferences. For me this is a reason why it is important to preserve access to resources such as conference programmes, with access being open to anyone with an interest in what we could refer to as “Internet archeology“.

Happy #backtothefutureday!

No. Event Title Link Notes
1 ILI 2000 Finding Resources on Your Web Site [Link] Talk
 2 Electronic Magazines: Issues in Implementation [Link] Joint talk with Bernadette Daly
3 ILI 2001 Publishing Web Magazines, e-Journals & Webzines [Link] Half day workshop with Marieke  Napier
4 WebWizards’ Roundtable [Link] Panel
5 Beyond Design: Advertising on Your Web Site [Link] Talk
6 ILI 2002 New Devices And The Web [Link] Joint talk with Helen Petrie
7 Benchmarking Of Library Web Sites [Link] Joint talk with Penny Garrod
8 Building 21st Century Web Sites [Link] Talk in exhibition
9 ILI 2003 HTML Is Dead! A Web Standards Update [Link] Talk
10 Web Site Accessibility: Too Difficult To Implement? [Link] Panel session
11 ILI 2004 Quality Assurance For Web Sites [Link] Half day workshop
12 Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software [Link] Talk
13 Optimising Technology in Libraries [Link] Panel session
14 ILI 2005 A Holistic Approach To Web Usability, Accessibility And Interoperability [Link] Half-day workshop
15 Folksonomies – The Sceptic’s View [Link] Panel session
16 Facing The Challenges Of A Standards-Based Approach To Web Development. [Link] Talk in “Using Open Standards and Open Source Software” track
17 Email Must Die! [Link] Talk in “Digital Tools for Collaboration” track
18 ILI 2006 Web 2.0 and Library 2.0: Addressing Institutional Barriers [Link] Talk in “A101 Setting The Stage for 2.0” track
19 Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis [Link] Talk in”A103 Wikis and Social Software” track
20 ILI 2007 Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library [Link] Half-day workshop with Kara Jones
21 The Blogging Librarian: Avoiding Institutional Inertia [Link] Talk in “A105 – Blogging Inertia and 2.0 Scepticism”  track
22 ILI 2009 Using Blogs, Microblogs and Social Networks Effectively Within Your Library [Link] Half-day workshop with Marieke Guy
23 Standards Are Like Sausages: Exploiting the Potential of Open Standards [Link] Talk in “B105 Open Standards” track
24 Top Technology Trends for Libraries and Information Professionals [Link] Panel session
25 ILI 2010 Effective Use of the Social Web in Organisations [Link] Half-day workshop with Ann Chapman
26 Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact [Link] Talk in “C102 Resource Management” track
27 ILI 2011 What’s on the Technology Horizon? [Link] Talk in “A101 Technology Developments and Trends” track
28 ILI 2012 Making Sense of the Future [Link] Talk in “A101: Future Technology: Stay Ahead, Stay Agile” track
29 What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories? [Link] Talk with Jenny Delasalle in “B203 Evidence and Impact” track.
30 ILI 2013 Future Technologies and Their Applications [Link] One-day workshop with Tony Hirst
31 Digital Life Beyond the Institution [Link] Talk in “A104 Being smart with technology – creating something from nothing” track
32 ILI 2014 What are the Major Technology Trends that will Impact Library Services and their Users? [Link] Talk in “B101 Trends in Technology” track
33 ILI 2015 Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond [Link] One-day workshop


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Reflections on a Twitter Discussion About ORCID

Posted by Brian Kelly on 8 Sep 2015

“Can’t Get Excited About ORCID”

Initial thoughts on ORCIDOn Friday (4 September 2015) I took part in an interesting discussion about ORCID which began when I came across the following tweet which provided a link to an interesting post about ORCID, a standard for IDs for researchers:

Why I’m not jumping on the ORCID bandwagon … in which I nearly wholesale adopt ‘s perspective

I have had a long-standing interest in ORCID, having published blog posts on “Observing Growth In Popularity of ORCID: An SEO Analysis ” and “Why You Should Do More Than Simply Claiming Your ORCID ID” in November 2012. I was therefore interested in this post in which a researcher gives reasons why he isn’t “jumping on the ORCID bandwagon”. The reason, it seems is that:

for me, ORCID is just another place that I need to keep my profile up to date, and it’s not even a very good one.  It’s not the standard, it is just one of many competing standards for presenting my academic life to the world (in addition to those below (PURE; Google Scholar; ResearchFish; EndNote), there is Scopus, My NCBI, LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Mendeley, Microsoft, etc etc etc – the list is almost endless. 

The post, published on the opiniomics blog, was long and provided a useful summary of the benefits provided by researcher profiling services, in particular, the benefits the author gains from his institution’s provision of the PURE service.

But whilst I’ll not dispute the benefits of researcher profiling services (and I’m a happy user of Researchgate – a service which is particularly important to me now that I am no longer affiliated with a university), arguing that the ORCID web site doesn’t do a great job of providing a profile of a researcher’s publication is missing the point of ORCID which is that ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID, is primarily about providing a standard identifier for researchers which can be used across a variety of workflow processes, with the aim of saving time for the researcher and those involved in research administration.

ORCID Is (Primarily) An ID!

As described on the ORCID home page “ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized“.

As an example of why I decided to claim my ORCID ID (strictly my ORCID, but many people refer to an ORCID ID to save confusion) clearly my name does not provide a unique way of identifying my research contributions, even if used in conjunction with my host institution. My email address provides a form of identifier, but this changes as I move to different institutions (;;; etc.) and even different variants in the same institution (e.g.;;  My ORCID – 0000-0001-5875-8744 – provides that unique identifier which is independent of my host institution.

A reason for the confusion in the blog post is that the online representation of the ORCID,, can also include details of my research publications. And, to be honest, as a service providing information about my research publications it is not as useful as my Researchgate profile or my profile. But that’s not a problem, as the researcher identifier service (ORCID) has a different role to play to the researcher profiling services I use.

Modifying My Practice for Using ORCID

However that last sentence is only partly true, as my ORCID page also includes details of my research papers. This was a personal choice – your ORCID profile page does not have to include your papers. I chose to include a partial list of my papers which were automatically added when I connect my ORCID profile to my Scopus ID (another research identifier, which is proprietary).

Brian Kelly: ORCID profile As a consequence of the discussion  on Twitter I realised that some researchers may think that ORCID is primarily a hosting service for information about a researcher’s publications. In light of such misapprehensions, I decided to update my ORCID profile so that the biographical details contain information on where to find the most comprehensive list of my publications. In addition the series of links provided in the profiles have been updated to provide links to other web sites relevant to my research activities, including this blog, my LinkedIn profile, my papers hosted on the University of Bath repository and my research profile on

Reflections on the Discussion

I have archived the Twitter discussion as I feel that it provides a valuable example of the benefits of open practices. To summarise Mick Watson published a post on why he thought ORCID was flawed and was willing to argue his position on Twitter. However the conversion concluded:

Mick Watson: @briankelly @genetics_blog but it’s a little insane having an empty ORCID profile

Brian Kelly: Disgree. ORCID is an ID; web site is value-added service. You can create ORCID & point to other profile(s).

Mick Watson: . @briankelly I’d never thought of this, that’s actually a great idea

Brian Kelly: :-) Has a series of tweets changed your mind?! BTW I changed my ORCID profile based on our chat. Thank you!

Mick Watson: @briankelly it has!

I hope the Twitter discussion on the original blog post has helped clarify the main purpose of ORCID and identified a practice for using ORCID which can co-exist with use of researcher profiling tools. However a comment on the blog post that “Unfortunately, one doesn’t always have the choice not to use ORCID” and the reply that “Nothing will make me hate a platform more than being forced to use it” suggests that there are still misunderstandings. But perhaps I should leave it to ORCID to update their FAQs to address such misunderstandings!

View Twitter metrics and conversation: [Topsy] – []

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Feedback on #IWMW15 (and Plans for #IWMW16)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Aug 2015

About IWMW 2015

IWMW logoIWMW 2015, the 19th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place from 27-29th July at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. As described last year in a post on Reflections on #IWMW14 the event is undergoing a transformation: after 17 years of JISC support for an event which was delivered by UKOLN in 2014 the event was run jointly by myself and JISC Netskills. However due to the closure of JISC Netskills it was not possible to continue the collaboration for a second year so this year I had responsibility for organising the event, supported by an advisory group which provided valuable advice on the theme for the event and suggested specific topics and speakers.

Earlier this week a post on “Reflections on #IWMW15” summarised the content presented at the event, including brief summaries of the comments received on the various plenary talks. The move towards greater involvement with the commercial sector was widely, although not universally, welcomed. Today’s post explores the comments received in more detail.


This year’s event attracted 110 delegates, which was down from previous events; whether this was due to the time of year (last week in July), the location, the content, lack of budget or other reasons is being explored.

The online evaluation form for the event has received 45 responses, which seems to be sufficient to gain a valid picture from the responses.

The participants were primarily from the HE sector (86%). A show of hands at the start of the event showed that a significant proportion were attending the event for the first time. The evaluation form confirmed this, with 33% newbies, 44% having attend between two and five previous events and 22% having attended over six previous events. Approximately 58%  knew of this year’s event through attendance at previous events and no fewer than 27% though word of  mouth, with only 4% hearing about the event on a Jiscmail list, 4% via Twitter and 7% through other means.

IWMW 2015: overall rating for event organisationIWMW 2015: overall rating for event contentAs can be seen from the accompanying graphs on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) 49% of the respondents felt that the content was excellent and 51% felt it was very good with 40% rating the organisation as excellent, 51% as very good and 9% as good. The average rating the event content was 4.49 and the average for the event organisation was 4.31.

The evaluation form asked for general comments on the content at the event.

  • Whilst it is hard to pin down a theme that captures the pulse of our sector a year in advance, once again you have done so. The content both indicated where we are in relation to the sector, challenged our position, and gave us thought for new directions. Nailed it again.
  • It was my first IWMW, and I was very pleasantly surprised at the level of candour and honesty around the views shared during the sessions. The speakers were all excellent and the content highly relevant yet very different.
  • Enjoyed the range of content, and the varying lenses through which things were examined – from macro/institutional level to micro/team or project-level. Although the ‘content’ content (esp. Rich Prowse/Bath digital team) was my favourite, and the most directly applicable, I did also enjoy the higher-level talks, with Mike McConnell being another stand-out.
  • The content was relevant and of a high standard. As someone who is new to web management in HE it was very useful to hear people speaking who face the same challenges as me. The topics were very relevant to the issues we are currently experiencing. I felt there could have been a wider range of topics with some being relevant to content managers and editors like myself and other for more technical colleagues
  • Themes were very current, eg digital transformation. Great speakers.
  • There was a good mix of topics, and all presentations were delivered well. Speakers were knowledgeable, confident, and facilitated audience participation where appropriate. The event would benefit from a few inspirational, visionary talks that would look beyond the task at hand.
  • Overall the content was good. Lots of institutions are running similar digital transformation programmes that we are but at varying points in the cycle, so it was good to get advice from those who are further along than we currently are. I would have liked to see a few more techie sessions.
  • A good mix of: (a) front-end and back-end topics (b) in-house and external agency speakers (c) plenary and workshop sessions (d) background sector trends and specific digital service developments
  • Some excellent ideas, ways of thinking and arguments were raised this year. I came with reasonably high expectations following previous years and was not disappointed.
  • Fascinating and gave a lot of food for thought.
  • All the plenary talks were first class.
  • A really good range of sector and external speakers covering a broad selection of topics, all very much in-line where institutions and their web/digital teams are right now, or hope to be in the future. This mixture worked well and the external speakers did well not to sell their services but offer sound advice.
  • A nice mix of speakers, I enjoyed the input from the private sector.
  • The sessions (mostly) covered much of what is relevant to me in my role at the University, but also opened my eyes to the wider issues and also similarities between my institution and others.
  • I loved the content. It provided further detail on areas of interest for me. I did hear a number of attendees observe however that they felt it was too high level / big i.e. they felt that whilst interesting, they were not in a position to action some of the bigger ideas / themes and they missed the more low-level, detail content of previous conferences.
  • Good selection of talks – something for everyone: techies, managers, marketing and content people. People often suggest tracks, but I think it is helpful to get an overview of other folks’ disciplines. I think it is fine to have companies speaking, but maybe they should be corralled into a session or it should be noted that ‘this is a sponsored talk’ or something, like they do with adverts in papers!
  • The overall programme of content was well structured and focused. All sessions could clearly be linked to the theme.
  • Really great range of talks and workshops. It would be great if the conference was a little bit longer and had some more workshops, either from other universities or from sponsors i.e. maybe a workshop from LinkedIn on how to make most of their tools to engage alumni
  • I thought that although the content was great, it did seem at times to almost be going over previous IWMW concepts. I enjoyed it, and it made me feel better to hear we are all in the same boat, but I would have preferred more ground breaking things that people are doing.

Participants were asked to give up to three examples of the key highlights of the event or ways in which it has been beneficial to you, Responses included:

  • Networking events – thanks to these I got to meet some fantastic people and will shortly be organising trips to go see a couple of them and help with further collaborations between our institutions – Workshops – the talks are great and with the workshops we got to try out some of the new techniques and concepts other places were using. It really helped to see the benefits and talk with the workshop organisers as to how they brought it to their unis – sponsors – it might sound a bit odd but it was great to be able to chat with some of the sponsors about some of the tools they offer. Whilst those sponsors who did attend weren’t always able to answer specific questions they did help point me in the right direction for more info.
  • Affirmation that we’re on the right track Learn from colleagues who are doing agile and content better than we are Networking; making new friends
  • I very much enjoyed hearing the ‘war stories’ and talking to people who are experiencing the same pain points in their industry. Meeting Paul Boag very briefly was also a highlight – having followed him for years online, it was good to meet him and to potentially talk about how we might work together in the future. General networking and getting to talk about some of the other work that we’re doing with attendees.
  • Building a network in a new field following a recent career change 2) Perspectives and practical examples from other institutions going through similar changes to our own
  • 1. Understand developments within the sector 2. Listen to other peoples experience 3. Develop relationships with other university teams.
  • Networking and finding out more about how web is done at other but similar places. Always useful for comparisons with our own ways! Future scanning. Both presenters and other attendees see other things coming! Reminding me of things I already should know but have forgotten to implement / follow through!
  • 1) Getting advice on the pitfalls/lessons learnt of large digital transformation projects at other institutions. 2) Hack days, think we’ll be running some in the future. 3) Mike McConnell’s session has informative and amusing
  • Networking with others in the HE and commercial sector. Seeing how we are doing compared to others. Learning more about UX, content and agile.
  • Hearing other peoples experience and learning from it. Shared best practice. Networking.
  • The size of the event made it easy to network. The quality of the presentations made it easy to digest the contents. The content was sufficiently relevant for the kind of work I do.
  • Given me new ideas to use in my workplace Given me motivation to change things at work Gained new contacts
    It’s fascinating to see how other teams are dealing with the same problems that we face. It’s also useful to have space to consider future problems and strategies.
  • Networking – my number one reason for attending Diverse expertise/views including peers and 3rd parties – I particularly enjoyed the input from PwC/KPMG/Precedent Seeing Edge Hill for the first time having only ever really see it through Mike Nolan’s eyes.
  • Networking opportunities were exceptional Open, honest, relaxed atmosphere Mike McConnell’s talk on digital transformation

Respondents were also asked to give up to three examples of ways in which the event could be improved. The responses to this questions will be carefully analysed to explore ways in which future events can be improved.

The comments addressed local organisational issues:

  • The catering was very poor Location was a bit out of the way
  • More central or accessible location. Edge Hill was a lovely campus but really limited for transport and things to do in the small amount of free time. The 30 minute walk to the nearest pub wasn’t ideal when the heavens opened. Coming from Aberdeen it was a pain to get to.
  • 1) Better accommodation 2) Hosted somewhere easier to get to
  • Coat hangers would have been nice in the rooms! Better weather. A more formalised approach to sponsorship for example, would be useful to us, to help us plan in how we might be able to help in the future in to our marketing budget. For example sponsoring the food or snacks, or drinks reception.
  • I don’t think there are ways in which you could improve it. But it may be good to feed back to the university that the Hub’s food provision is pretty bad. If students are going to eat there for 3 years on a daily basis, I’m concerned about their health! And that includes what can be bought in the shop!
  • Better food and better air conditioning in the lecture hall.
  • Cooler rooms! – The first night event was a bit poor. It would be nice to try and have something that keeps people together and gets the community spirit moving, especially for any first timers that don’t have the connections of the more seasoned attendees. – Biscuits with your coffee?

Publicity for the event:

  • Forward notice of dates – the more warning we as a community have of the dates, the greater the time to plan / assign budget / promote the event to others / etc.
  • We do need to market it better, somehow, but I have no bright ideas in that regard. How about a pseudo-hack day where we agiley brainstorm around marketing ideas for the event and the community? Rich Prowse could coordinate. How about a link with the BCS or CILIP or CIM or similar?

The structure of the programme:

  • Events should be broken into dev and content streams, helping to expand the number of learning opportunities and improving their relevance to the audience. – Plenaries should be cross over talks which are pitched for a non specialist audience and are relevant to both dev and content. These should be from thought-leaders and/or inspirational speakers. – Workshops/Master classes should be practical exercises and not just plenaries.
  • I like the idea suggested in the panel session at the end of making this a community that has an event, rather than an event that has a community – Maybe use digital technologies to make the plenary sessions more interactive (live digital votes at the beginning/end of a session to see how opinions have changed) – Contrasting and challenging views are interesting and can create more interesting discussions. I would encourage more external views to challenge traditional thinking – but I might be biased :-)
  • Perhaps a later start each morning – 10am? We inevitably stay out a little later than intended and that extra hour could render everyone a little sharper and place less of an onus on the first speaker to wake us up. Keep using Whova or equivalent. Seemed like a great networking amplifier.
  • Trying to get more but smaller workshops. One of the ones I went to (Bath Uni) was huge and it was tricky for the organisers to manage it successfully.
  • Some break out time allocated to discussing problems areas. Attendees could submit subjects for discussion, then areas set up for group discussions, impromptu workshops with facilitators. One example might be finding out how teams manage reactive work with strategic work. Practical insights. Some regional networking – ways of grouping people from neighbouring institutions. Easier way to get to know local webfolk.
  • Possibly more demos of what institutions have achieved with mobile/web (not just Powerpoints) Consider renaming the event to increase attendance – I’m sure that there are a lot of people in the sector who would find it useful but either aren’t aware of it or don’t know what the event is about.
  • Change it into two days and not 3. Start about 11am on the first day and finish about 4.30 on the second day Have an activity on one of the evenings like a quiz as I felt all social activities were centred on the pub and as a non drinker I’m not interested in that and there was nothing else on offer.

The content:

  • The community is rather self-contained and could benefit from outside perspective, for example Higher Ed web professionals from other countries could be invited to speak. Visionary talks, ‘broader picture’ presentations help to differentiate between urgent tasks and important goals, and challenge the status quo. Focus on fun is important on the last day, and particularly for the closing session. This could be something lighthearted like Town Hall at JBoye, or a hired stand-up comedian, etc. Breaks after every 45min session, to stretch legs and top up on tea/coffee would really help.
  • subscription based setup with some regular updates / info / subsidising for events – either main IWMW or other regional events. Maybe a little outside of HE what is happening in the web to stir ideas.

Social events:

  • There does seem to be a big focus on the pub and ale for extra-curricular activities – not great if you’re not into that sort of thing. You may attract a more diverse crowd if you focus less on that.
  • Having access to wine on the first night!

Other areas:

  • Would be happy to pay a higher price for better food and drink at future events. Having some more technical talks / workshops would be good, but I guess that depends on who volunteers to speak. There weren’t so many technical things this year. Some of the workshop sessions seemed to be ‘sharing’ sessions, which then turn into group therapy rather than solving problems. Really no idea how to get away from that and make them more productive slots.
  • I did notice at the first event I came to in Reading that there were many more sponsors and vendors around the venue, providing information and industrial networking beyond just the institutions themselves. It may not be relevant to everyone, but to some it may be very valuable. Suggestion was made that creating a group or institution that would meet once a year, rather than just an ad-hoc annual meeting of like minded but otherwise largely unconnected individuals, could be a way of increasing the strength of the group, and creating a better environment to share and connect all year antibiotics you can buy over counter round. Possibly a
  • We seemed to queue a lot, that could be improved. The master class was too long and did not warrant 2 1/2 hours, it would perhaps be better to have two sessions. The session looking to the Future could have done with microphones to amplify the sound as some of the participants mumbled.
  • Become more of a community of practice where the event is the highlight, but not the only contact we have. Subscription to a community so that it can underwrite the event.
  • The two workshops I attended weren’t as useful as in previous years. Finding better workshop leaders is one way to improve this, but I appreciate this isn’t always easy, especially on a budget.
  • Only downside I can think of was on the catering side where the venue were at times a bit difficult with my particular food allergies (gluten and lactose intolerance) and didn’t seem to know what these were or what foods they might be in, even when using examples. A ‘would be nice’ would be a copy of all the slides in one place (dropbox maybe?) which we could download and share with colleagues at our own institutions post-event
  • Monday evening – maybe better to hire a place like the Tuesday evening, otherwise people separate across various pubs meaning it’s tricky to make sure that you speak to everyone that you’d like to.
  • Central location for notes, tips, ideas. For pre and post conference discussion – More engagement with commercial sector, but not in a “sales” capacity
  • We spent a long time talking about what students think and what academics think, why not invite some along to speak? We could get in touch with students unions and see if they could send a speaker.
  • It was good to have perspective from the private sector, but it could be more interesting to get perspectives of our stakeholders within HE at a future event, eg faculty admin, academics, other central services
  • The area of digital is now so wide and varied I think it would be beneficial to open up this a bit to other areas such as marketing/comms etc. I know it was mentioned on the final summary session but it would be good to see more events throughout the year. I think the vendors could potentially have more of a role to play in thought leadership and experiences within the sector.
  • 1) Create more events for a specific audience (techy vs content for example), instead of having two optional talks (and 6 options in each one) would have been more useful to have for example 4 optional talks with 3 options each. 2) Have an organised networking session for example at lunch on Day 2
  • Better catering (sorry!) – really needed a proper meal on day two before a whole afternoon of sessions and wasn’t a fan of the indoorr BBQ. I really like the more formal dinner aspect of the event. Event could be ‘tracked’ in terms of having themes running throughout, e.g. content, techie, management/transformation etc. Start a bit earlier to squeeze in one or two more sessions?
  • Improved contact between attendees – some sort of forum/social media location for discussion before/around/after the event Possibly widen to FE – many of the same issues, some we in HE don’t (yet) see? Much of their audience is a year or two younger than ours!

Comments on the social events included:

  • Event dinner was a bit of a disappointment compared to IWMW of old. But still a good chance to meet a few new people. The wine reception was fun and I met a couple of new people which was really useful. A shame it was in the conference space and not at an external event like previous IWMWs. And Piri Piri was great! My partner is Portuguese so I’m familiar with Portuguese cooking. Bacalau in Ormskirk. Who’d’ve thought it!!
  • Not great catering at the Hub or what was served for lunches. Would’ve preferred a proper sit down dinner for the first night (as per 2013) and a nicer location for the drinks reception that’s not our breakout area between sessions. I know it rained heavily but the roof garden would’ve been fine that evening. so possibly changed a little too hastily. Food at lunch was poor, cold and greasy- a few sandwiches would’ve made the difference! Salt and Liquor was great, although a bit of a walk to get to.
  • Really liked The Hop Inn on the Monday night. Great to get together with people and have a chat. Wine reception was a bit underwhelming – the wine was ok (!) but could have done with a change of scenery. Salt and Liquor was ace fun – great food and booze and really good to have that big venue upstairs. Great for mingling and networking.
  • Poor quality food in the hub and only water to drink.
  • I realise that budgets were tight this year and Brian was effectively underwriting the event, so please don’t take these comments as criticism. But I think it’s a pity we didn’t have an “outing” to a local attraction this year or wine at the event dinner.. perhaps next year!


Since the IWMW event is undergoing a significant period of transition it was pleasing to receive so many comments which will help to identify the successful aspects of the event and the areas in need of improvement.

Areas of success

IWMW 2015: key aimsDuring the welcome talk I summarised the main aims of the event: 1) to learn new skills; 2) engage with your peers  and 3) identify new approaches for your institution. The secondary aims were to provide the time and opportunity to reflect on the implications of the changing technological, organisational, political and economic environment on the nature of the provision of institutional digital services. The final aim was to have fun!

I feel these goals were achieved. The feedback for the content of the event was exceptional, with the ratings of 49% Excellent and 51% Very good even exceeding last year’s ratings (47% Excellent, 44 Very good and 8% Good). The feedback also highlighted the value provided by the networking opportunities. Finally it was pleasing that the higher level of participation from the commercial sector was widely appreciated, as was the talks which addressed broader institutional issues.

Areas to improve

Despite the success of the event, there are a number of areas in which improvements can be made.

During the welcome talk I described how previous IWMW events had been held in capital cities (London, Edinburgh and Belfast), large cities (Aberdeen, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Reading) and historic cities (Canterbury, York, Bath and Chichester). IWMW 2015 was the first to be held in a small market town, which provided some challenges: including difficulties in getting to Ormskirk and the lack of suitable venues for social events beyond the university. Edge Hill University, the current Times Higher University of the Year, prides itself for its support for the student population. However it is not an institution which hosts conferences on a regular basis and its limitations in this area were noted in the evaluation forms.

But although I cannot accept responsibility for the limited public transport to Ormskirk or the lack of coat hangers in the bedrooms (!) I have some responsibilities in the late announcement of the event and the lower level of support for the social events at this year’s event. It is intended that next year’s event will be easier to get to (I have already ruled out Inverness!) and will provide a wider range of options for the social events, including wine at the conference dinner and options for those who do not want to visit pubs. In addition, unlike last year when I was working for Cetis for 4 days a week until 28 May, I now have no other significant work commitments and so will be able to dedicate my time to planning the IWMW 2016 event.

Planning for IWMW 2016

The evaluation form asked for suggestions for IWMW 2016. A summary of the responses is given below.


Ideas for areas to be addressed at IWMW 2016 include:

  • More on ‘digital transformation’ – seems quite topical so follow-ups, how people are getting on with this would be interesting. Agile – how this approach is being used both on the technical and content side. How are other people – e.g. customers/users – being convinced of the value of this approach and buying in. Technical stuff – always interested in what people are developing; how they’re managing websites/CMSs; coping with main site and all the offshoots/micro-sites
  • Practical stuff we can do on a shoestring and little resources!!!
  • More for smaller institutions
  • Broader range of content – would be great to have strands suitable for designers and developers. I also think the name puts people off and is increasingly out of alignment with people’s roles. The 20th in the series would be a good opportunity to co-brand with a new name as a mini relaunch. CASE costs loads more and attracts huge numbers
  • I liked the content this year. Workshops were useful and a good way of meeting people too. It would be good if we could have a few more, with numbers a bit more limited for each. I realise the importance of the commercial sector. But maybe mixing them up a bit rather than leaving them all till last?
  • More of the same – management, technical, content & marketing. Might it be useful to have a speaker from outside the sector? Eg, I just saw an engaging presentation from Edinburgh City Council on their user-focused digital transformation project.
  • Digital strategy digital team structures
  • Given the focus on digital cutting across the organisation I’d be interested to see content from or involvement from other areas of HE. Perhaps something on training, working across teams etc.
  • As much content-related content as possible. More best practice, e.g. Bath. More excellent, engaging speakers who have some fire in the belly! Range of topics again – possibly a bit more marketing?
  • Workshops on developments in core areas – HTML5/CSS3/Javascript frameworks and where they are going. Managing content writers outside the core team. How do we train them, how do we keep their content right?
  • It would be nice to see some more practical sessions that the bulk of people could use every day rather than the more abstract strategy material. Perhaps a session with lots of shorter talks to get some new people presenting as well?
  • Would be good to hear from students and academics rather than just other people saying what they think and what they should be doing.
  • More practical hands-on sessions which are tailored to developers and content professionals. Talks from: – Future Learn – EdX – GDS.
  • Continue with a similar mix to this year e.g. experiences on web/mobile projects, Agile approaches etc.Ways of integrating and re-using content, what analytics mean, ITIL and service catalogues
  • Plenaries Parallel sessions – possibly tracked/themes Pecha Kucha style sessions – 20 slides, 20 seconds Panel sessions – experts and HE sector again Hack day style event
  • More technical sessions. Less group therapy / moaning sessions (if possible)
  • Really hard to do as this was my first IWMW – I suppose being aware of global web/digital trends and working out how they might apply to HE? Any futurologists out there?

In addition it was suggested that the event continues to invite speakers beyond the HE sector:

  • I would like to see much ideas from outside of the HE sector, so that we in the HE can start to look further afield for inspiration instead of cloning ourselves.
  • Happy to see vendor presentations, perhaps a head to head 10 mins each, all in one session.
  • More of the same, but obviously evolving as the digital world does too. I think commercial sector presentations are important. Even if we do not operate in this sector ourselves we need to know

In response to a question on the format of the event the majority were in favour of maintaining the existing format:

  • Similar format to 2015.
  • It was my first event so similar to this year seems fine.
  • 3 day format works well. The master classes worked particularly well. Perhaps needs some element of stranding..
  • Format worked fine, some of the workshops were a little lengthy but good IF you’ve got to get to grips with new techniques or ideas in detail.
  • I liked the format as is, but think the afternoon sessions could be more focused with possible slightly smaller groups?
  • Similar to 2015? Worked really well.
  • Existing format works really well. I would replace the last session with something decidedly light-hearted.
  • Good format. If attendees numbers were high enough would be good to have multiple streams (technical and content) but may not be possible.
  • I love the 2 days over 3 days approach, please retain it. If it was at the end of the week (ie finishing on a Friday) it would perhaps give the delegates the opportunity to stay on, or fully unwind
  • Current format worked well – having a morning to get there and an afternoon to get back meant limiting the disruption to your home life.
  • I think the length of the conference was about right, the lunchtime to lunchtime format probably works well for people travelling longer distances (not an issue for me this time).

although a small number suggested hosting a shorter event, shortening the mast classes or holding short events during the year:

  • Three days is a lot not to be at work. Could it just be two days?
  • I am not sure the afternoon (3.5 hrs) sessions worked as well as they could do. Think it is slightly too long.
  • More smaller events throughout the year. More streams for delegates to attend – technical, marketing, business

One potentially controversial area was the question of greater involvement by the commercial event at IWMW 2016. As can be seen greater involvement was welcomed by the majority of the respondents.

Commercial involvement in IWMW 2016

Responses given to the question “What concerns do you have regarding greater commercial involvement with the event?” included:

  • I think that commercial involvement is an important part of making sure that IWMW remains financially viable.
  • Overall, I think the balance was right this year. Perhaps presentations from two management consultants was one too many.
  • Greater – none. If it were to start to dominate then that would be a worry.
  • None; assuming that they aren’t selling too obviously :-) Seriously, no commercial attendee is going to expect anything silly like exclusive contact or anything of that sort.
  • No concerns

Suggestions for the location of the IWMW 2016 event included:

  • University of Kent! :D If that’s out of the question then I nominate Bath. They’ve done great talks 2 years running and it would be awesome to see them at home.
  • Anywhere in the UK – preferably close to a mainline rail station.
  • Anywhere as long as it’s easy to get to
  • Liverpool suggestion sounded good. Would prefer UK as may have trouble funding excursions further afield. Bath?!
  • Wales!
  • If it’s someplace like EdgeHill with poor connections, then someplace in the North is best for those in Scotland. If it has good connections to airports then further south is fine.
  • Midlands?
  • Wales?
  • Another small university/location not too far north though!!!
  • Anywhere at least reasonably well-connected by train.
  • Not in a campus location, too limited. Should be in a city centre with good transport links and facilities.
  • Somewhere more central so people can get there more easily eg Manchester, Birmingham
  • Anywhere with good transport links. Wales? Not London. I think somewhere ‘in the middle’ is the fairest. I’m not so keen on it being in London because so many things are already there.
  • Loughborough if things pan out.
  • Anywhere in a major UK city with decent transport links!
  • somewhere central – midlands

Next Steps in the Planning for IWMW 2016

Following the analysis of the evaluation forms and the publication of two blog posts based on the feedback my next steps are:

  • Explore possible locations for IWMW 2016 including following up the suggestions I have received to date and inviting additional proposals to host the event.
  • Solicit feedback from non-attendees at this year’s event in order to understand the reasons they did not attend.
  • Invite feedback from members of the IWMW 2015 advisory group and establish a group to support the planning and delivery of the IWMW 2016 event.
  • Develop a marketing strategy for the event.
  • Review the comments on greater commercial involvement at the event and feedback received from event sponsors in order to develop plans for further sponsorship of next year’s event, which will help ensure the financial sustainability of the event.
  • Publish a timescale for next year’s event including dates for the official announcement for the dates and location of IWMW 2016, dates for submission of proposals and dates on which bookings will open.

Note that in order to ensure that the views of those who did not attend the IWMW 2015 event can be addressed in the planning for next year’s event an evaluation form for non-attendees at IWMW 2015 is available.

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