UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for the ‘iwmw’ Category

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.


Posted in Events, iwmw | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

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.

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

Posted in Events, iwmw | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Guest Post: Wake Up and Face the Digital Reality

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 20 May 2014

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place in Newcastle on 16-18 July. The workshop fee is only £350, which includes 2 nights accommodation.In the first guest post provided by a plenary speaker at the IWMW 2014 event Hiten Vaghmaria, Head of Digital Development at the University of Westminster, asked “Planning work: How can technology help the Workload Allocation process?“.

In today’s guest post Paul Boag, co-founder of the digital agency Headscape and regular speaker at IWMW events, urges those working in institutional Web management teams to “Wake Up and Face the Digital Reality“. Paul will give a plenary talk on “Digital Adaptation: Time to Untie Your Hands” on the opening day of the IWMW 2014 event, from 15.45-16.30 on Wednesday 16 July 2014.

Wake up and face the digital reality

IWMW 2014 programme

The opening day at IWMW 2014 provides talks from experienced speakers from the commercial sector including one from Paul Boag.

It’s time for us to face an uncomfortable reality — the way we are approaching digital is not working. I am not talking about how our institutions are approaching digital, although there are problems with that. I am talking about how we approach it as digital specialists. We are failing our organisations and feeling frustrated in our jobs.

We see so much potential. But if we continue to follow our present path, we will not fulfil our potential.

Our digital vision won’t succeed

We all share a similar vision for the future of digital and education. A day when students have a joined up, integrated digital experience. From their first encounter with a university until they are a well established alumni.

We talk of augmented reality apps to help freshers find their way around campus. E-learning environments that widen the reach of the university. Student portals that save users time and the institution money. Unfortunately, this vision is never going to happen if we continue working the way we are.

At the moment every step is a battle. We fight management, get resources, navigate committees, deal with politics and resist scope creep. By the time we succeed in putting one part of our vision in place it has become out of date. We complete one redesign just in time to start the next.

We need to adopt a different approach.

Our tactics have failed

Many of us have resigned ourselves to “the reality of university life”. We work the best we can within the system, making small incremental changes. We hope that one day, somebody with authority will realise how broken the system is.

We hope that maybe this will be the last redesign of the site, with management realising the need for ongoing evolution. That this time governance will be just as important as a new visual appearance.

We spend our days addressing symptoms. We struggle to stop yet another pointless mobile app or unnecessary microsite. We endeavour to set standards and bring order. But never do we address the fundamental problem. We never try and fix our organisations.

After all is beyond our pay grade. That has to come from the executive. But how are they going to know what needs doing? How are they going to even recognise the problem? They are not digital experts.

We fear moving beyond addressing symptoms because it means sticking our heads above the parapet. It means risking stepping on somebody else’s shoes. Most of all it means venturing into areas that we are not experts in.

But here is the thing — nobody is an expert in this kind of digital transformation. It’s new and scary but sooner or later things will have to change.

What it does offer is a unique opportunity that we must grasp.

The opportunity of digital transformation

Digital transformation has crept up the agenda of both public and private organisations. From the British Government to Starbucks, organisations are restructuring for the digital age. These high profile digital projects provides us with a unique opportunity to do more than treat the symptoms.

Now is the time to show management the barriers that prevent your institution adapting to digital. No more working within the constraints imposed on you. Challenge the operating procedures of the past and become agents for change.

Digital transformation projects in well known organisations gives us a precedent. But, we still need to present an attractive vision that gets the executive on board.

Forming an attractive vision for change

As digital professionals we are often bad at communicating the need for change. We talk about user requirements, frustration with organisational structures and the need for speed. But the truth is management don’t care about things like that. They don’t care because they cannot see the connections to things that matter to them.

If we want to see change happen in our institutions we need to speak in terms management care about. We need to help them make the connections. We can do this by focusing on three areas:

  1. Opportunities that will benefit the institution.
  2. Threats that could disrupt the status quo.
  3. Possible cost savings.

Let’s look at each in turn.

Highlight opportunities

Management are always looking for new opportunities. In the case of senior management that is opportunities that benefit the whole institution.

For example, don’t waste your breadth talking about the need to make your website mobile friendly. Instead talk about how a mobile friendly website will help attract overseas students from Asia. These students are valuable to the institution and rely on mobile devices. Use data to backup these claims and you have a compelling case.

Middle management are a bit trickier. They don’t care so much about the bigger picture. Instead they are more focused on their own position and influence.

Moaning about their blinkered vision does not help. Recognise they are in a vulnerable position and work hard to present arguments that make their lives easier.

Take for example forming a digital transformation team. This often involves consolidating staff from other departments. Soften the blow by suggesting secondment rather than a permanent move. You might even suggest this is only for a limited time. Anything to prevent managers feeling that you are stealing their staff. They will interpret this as an attempt to undermine their position.

Try suggesting to management that they want somebody on the digital transformation team. This will ensure they have somebody representing their ideas on the ‘inside’.

Use threats

Another powerful weapon in your arsenal is fear. Large institutions are reluctant to embrace new opportunities. They don’t see a need to change what has worked so well in the past. But if you can prove that past tactics will no longer work they will respond to this threat.

Spend time talking about the threats to the higher education sector. Competition from educational startups, shifts in student expectations, changes in student behaviour. The list could go on.

Reference sectors that have been decimated because they were too slow to act when change came. Talk about how the music industry had a clear sign that things were changing when Napster arrived, but how they failed to act. Apple stepped in with iTunes and HMV and Tower Records went out of business. Also reference stories like Kodak, Blockbusters and many newspapers. There are no shortage of stories that show the cost of failing to adapt.

The key here is demonstrating that not acting will lead to disaster. Change is coming anyway. Those who fail to adapt will become extinct.

Focus on cost savings

Finally, talk about cost savings. Money talks, even in a large institution like a university. At the moment most universities are inefficient in the way they manage digital assets. Each part of the organisation is doing its own thing. If you can show how a single approach to digital can save money it will get the executives attention.

I recently helped a higher education institution put together a case for digital transformation. As part of that I met with a member of senior management to explain why this needed to happen. We covered a lot of ground, but one simple argument won the day. We calculated that to redesign all school websites using the current approach would take seven years. If we implemented a transformation plan that figure would be closer to seven months. We could achieve this by restructuring how things worked. There were no extra costs. This simple argument of more results for the same money was enough to tip the balance.

Talking the language of management will get their attention. But, highlighting threats, opportunities and even cost savings is not enough. You must also present a clear plan for change.

Providing a clear vision

Let’s imagine for a moment that you have persuaded management that change needs to happen. That the way you currently work is failing and they give you free reign to change. What would you do?

Often we moan about the current state of affairs, but lack a clear vision of how we want things to be. We focus too much on fixing the immediate problems with our process, rather than looking at the bigger picture.

Lets take a moment to consider what our roadmap for change might look like. The first step is to form a digital transformation team.

Form a digital transformation team

Most public institutions have expertise scattered across the organisation. They have web developers, IT specialists, content creators, photographers. Often they have all the skills they need, but they are not working together.

Step one is to bring these people together into a digital transformation team. Notice the name I have chosen. There are two parts to it:

  1. Digital: The implication is that this is more than the web. You cannot consider social media, the web, email or mobile apps in isolation. They are apart of one whole.
  2. Transformation: This is not a service team. It doesn’t exist to serve other departments. Its mandate is to change working practices across the institution.

This team should not support the ongoing maintenance of existing digital assets. If things are going to change, updates and fixes cannot distract them. Too many web teams spend the majority of their time providing support for the existing site. Form a separate support team for that job and put new development projects on hold.

Once the digital transformation team is in place, start looking at customer requirements.

Map customer journeys

Any digital transformation project has to start with the user. For too long institutions approach to digital looked inwards. They focused on what it was they wanted to say. This led to a proliferation of content. Many institutional websites run into hundreds of thousands of pages.

One of the best ways to break this thinking is to focus on user needs. This provides an opportunity to rebuild digital assets from scratch. No more porting content from the old site to the new.

Mapping the customer journey identifies user goals when interacting with an institution. They outline the various touch points users use to achieve those goals.

Some argue that as an institution they already have a good idea how users behave. But, behaviour has changed since the arrival of digital. It is important to step back and understand exactly how things have changed.

Customer journeys help show that much of your website’s content is not required. They also help identify organisational problems. For example, they show how many departments prospective students have to deal with. Unfortunately these departments rarely present the same message. Customer journeys shows that to serve the needs of students you may have to make organisational changes.

With a clear idea of who your customers are and what they want to achieve it is time to move onto the prototype stage.

Build a prototype

When the Government Digital Service (GDS) began its digital transformation project it started small. It took a handful of people and built a prototype site. This site only encompassed the first few levels. It then deep linked into existing content on other government sites. This became known as and we can learn much from this approach.

First, it allowed the government digital team to bypass the normal sign off process. Because they were only creating a prototype they didn’t need to get approval for every part. Some higher education institutions have adopted this approach with dramatic results. One institution even achieved design sign-off in less than two week!

Second, it allowed them to show other stakeholders what the future might look like in a much more tangible way than a written report. When people could see the possibilities in a working site they were much more inclined to listen.

Finally, building a prototype allowed the team to gather real data about user behaviour. This helped them to build a compelling case to support their new approach. It was no longer about opinion but rather hard numbers.

Form a digital framework

Digital transformation projects should lead to the creation of a digital framework.

This digital framework consists of guides, policies and processes needed to support the new way of working. They outline what needs doing and methods for achieving those goals.

Although this framework will vary between organisations, typical elements might include:

  • Key performance indicators.
  • User personas.
  • Top tasks.
  • Design pattern library.
  • Content style guide.
  • Accessibility policy.
  • Business objectives.
  • Content management policy.
  • Responsibility assignment matrix.
  • Analytics dashboards.
  • Working processes.
  • Service standards.

This framework is like the GDS service manual. It provides the institution with a pattern for working on digital projects. The digital transformation team should use this pattern. But other internal teams and even third parties should also work within this framework.

In short the digital framework helps educate colleagues about best practice.

Educate and disband

The primary role of the digital transformation team is to bring about organisational change. This will only happen through a programme of education.

What must not happen is for the digital transformation team to become yet another silo in the organisation. It needs to engage with colleagues across the organisation at every level. The aim should be to help them better understand the role of digital.

The best analogy for this role is that of Chief Electricity Officer in the 1900s. The arrival of electricity was changing business, but most organisations were unsure how to use it. Their solution was to appoint Chief Electricity Officers to help them make the transition.

Today the idea of a Chief Electricity Officer seems absurd. Electricity is ubiquitous and none of us would be able to do our jobs without it. Yet, at the time they needed somebody to show them the way. Somebody to help them make that transition. We don’t have Chief Electricity Officers today because they did their job in the 1900s.

In the same way, the job of a digital transformation team is to make the use of digital ubiquitous across the organisation. Their ultimate aim is to become redundant, with digital embedded in the DNA of their institution.

Maintaining this aim is essential. One day we will no longer need digital transformation teams. Transformation is a finite process.

This goal is important for two reasons. First it makes it clear that the aim is to empower others to use digital, not manage it in a single team. Second, it helps reduce the political backlash associated with the creation of a new team. Some middle management will feel threatened by having their team members and areas of authority taken away. Knowing it will not be forever maybe of some reassurance.

How long we will need digital transformation teams will depend. But, if one day they are not disbanded then they have failed. Failed to change their institution’s mindset from thinking of digital as a bolt on to digital being ubiquitous.

About the author

Paul BoagPaul Boag has been working with the web since 1994. He is now co-founder of the digital agency Headscape, where he works closely with clients to establish their web strategy.

Paul is a prolific writer having written Digital AdaptationWebsite Owners ManualClient Centric Web Design and numerous articles for publications such as .net magazineSmashing Magazine and

Paul also speaks extensively on various aspects of web design both atconferences across the world and on his award winning web design podcast boagworld.

Posted in Guest-post, iwmw | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Guest Post: Planning work: How can technology help the Workload Allocation process?

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 8 May 2014

This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2014, takes place at the University of Northumbria. In light of funding changes this year’s event is ore closely aligned with institutional challenges. In today’s guest blog post Hiten Vaghmaria, Head of Digital Development at the University of Westminster, summarises a problem which all heads of departments will face: how they will allocate teaching, research and administration work to their staff though use of a model known as the Workload Allocation Model (WAM). Hiten will describe the approaches being taken at the University of Westminster at the IWMW 2014 event and will welcome feedback on these approaches. To start the discussion he invites those with an interest in this area to share details of the approaches you use within your institution.

Planning work: How can technology help the Workload Allocation process?

Talk by Hiten Vaghmaria at IWMW 2014Each year, heads of academic departments at universities across the country plan how they will allocate teaching, research and administration work to their staff, following a model known as the Workload Allocation Model (WAM). This crucial planning and resource allocation exercise is at the heart of running a successful teaching programme, and ensures that the institution can meet its strategic objectives, yet many universities run the process from basic spreadsheets. In the age of readily available web-based productivity services, are we doing enough to help our institutions plan their work?

There are many different ways of running the WAM, with one institution’s model invariably being different (albeit similar) to the next. The National Academic Workload Management Conference was held on this very subject in December 2013, where leaders from several Universities met to discuss the differences between their models. Whilst the focus for this conference was the model itself, there was some discussion around the mechanisms for collecting the information, and it’s clear that this will soon be a pressing issue for IT departments – if it isn’t already.

At the University of Westminster we’ve moved, within an unexpectedly short timescale, from a variety of different spreadsheets designed separately by each department, to one combined spreadsheet, to a prototype web-based system which is fully supported by the in-house team. It hasn’t been the smoothest of journeys but it has been a fascinating and challenging learning experience which has uncovered a host of issues, related to both technology and people, and we’re confident that a support network for those going through this process (or about to) would be enormously helpful.

As a first step, I’ll be hosting a discussion session on Friday 18th July at this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2014, to discuss the ways in which institutions currently collect their WAM information, and ask how they might do so more efficiently. We’ll showcase some existing solutions and talk about how the process could be improved using the technology available to us as Web Managers and developers. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the following questions:

  • How does your University run the WAM?
    • What tools are used in this process?
    • What support is offered by IT?
    • What are the main concerns raised by Heads of Departments?
    • How could this process be made more efficient?
  • What other processes does this link up with (e.g. Timetabling, Module Costs, Transparent Approach to Costing (TrAC))?
  • Does it allocate work based on real hours, or use some form of proxy unit?

About the Author

Hiten VaghmariaHiten Vaghmaria is Head of Digital Development at the University of Westminster, where he leads a team responsible for the operation and development of web-based services for students and staff. Previously, Hiten has worked as a Service and Product Manager for the University of Edinburgh and the BBC.

About IWMW 2014

IWMW 2014, the 18th Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at Northumbria University on 16-18 July 2014. Details of the event programme are available. The three-day event costs £350 which includes 2 nights’ accommodation. Use the online booking form to book your place.



Posted in Events, iwmw | Tagged: | 2 Comments »