Useful tips for building trust in the workplace

“This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

— Alan Watts

Most of us can tell the difference between a trusting atmosphere at work and a toxic one. In fact we can register it almost instantly – within days, if not hours of joining a new organisation. I’ve had a misfortune to participate in team meetings that were so stiff you could cut the tension with a knife. I also worked in companies where people were … Read more >

Productive writing in six simple steps

You sit down in front of your laptop, your cup of tea is ready, all your other jobs are mentally set aside, you look at the screen, you concentrate, and… nothing. It’s not like you don’t know what to write about – beautiful ideas keep floating in your head with admirable grace, but they just don’t line up into words and sentences. Sounds familiar? We’ve all been there.

Starting to write a new document, a new article, a new chapter can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. I once attended an event at BBC Media City in Salford … Read more >

How to prioritise website improvements

A website is never done. Like a garden, a website needs constant attention and care in order to flourish. Content updates, bug fixes and security patches are essential website maintenance jobs that must be done for the website to survive, in the same way as your garden plants need watering in order to grow. In addition to the basic maintenance, there are also constant opportunities for improvement.

University of Leeds is an ultra-large organisation with more than 1,000 websites and the backlog of improvements for university web presence contains hundreds of items. When the list is so long, it’s easy … Read more >

Building a Successful Roadmap

When I first started working as a team lead, most of my days were filled with solving urgent problems raised by customers and colleagues. There was no hiding from it – I was firefighting a long list of problems, with no end in sight. My team resolved many issues, but new ones kept coming. There was always more to do than could be done with the existing resources. My reactive approach kept us busy but didn’t move the team forward.

I knew that not all issues were true emergencies and that better planning was needed, but didn’t have enough experience … Read more >

The art and science of estimating large web projects

We’ve all made commitments to complete tasks by a certain deadline that later proved impossible to meet – it’s human nature. Most people, irrespective of their gender, race, nationality and age, display what is known as optimism bias – a tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive events [1]. When we make plans, we expect things to go smoothly, with hardly any issues getting in the way.

Optimism bias is only one of many challenges that organisations face when estimating web projects. At the start of the project the levels of uncertainty are high which means that developers aren’t … Read more >

What to Consider Before Upgrading Your Web CMS

The half-life of knowledge refers to the time it takes for half of all facts in a certain subject area to become obsolete. We can’t predict which facts will be disproved, but we know that some of the facts will eventually get replaced by new, more advanced knowledge in the future. Physics and mathematics are relatively slow moving in this respect, with half-life of 13 and 9 years respectively, whereas half of medical facts expire in 2 years.

Those of us who work in software development know from personal experience that technology is a fast paced industry. Web developers and … Read more >

How to Write a Website Design Brief

At the very start of my career I worked in a digital agency. As a web developer I juggled several projects at once, and the agency as a whole had hundreds of clients on their books at any given time. Whilst this fast-paced environment offered me great opportunities for career growth, one of my biggest frustrations was never having enough time to truly understand the nature of the business of my clients.

Since then, I worked on the other side of the table too, selecting digital agencies to deliver web projects for large organisations. This experience taught me that finding … Read more >

Design Systems: benefits and challenges

University of Leeds is a large organisation. With over 39,000 students, over 9,000 staff and a web presence consisting of more than 1,500 websites visited by millions of people, our biggest challenges come precisely from this impressive scale. Every design component, every snippet of code, every plugin that we create needs to be stable enough to be rolled out across hundreds of websites.

In 2020, in order to establish a more effective process for managing design and code for the university websites, work on the University of Leeds Design System started. Design system is a relatively new concept. Some of … Read more >

How to Choose the Best Web Content Management System

Web content is a business asset. It’s how your company comes across to the world: to everyone who ever engaged with your brand, and to anyone who ever will. With more and more customers choosing digital channel as their preferred form of engagement, the value of web content cannot be underestimated.

Web content management system (Web CMS) is a software platform that allows companies to store, manage and publish large volumes of web content with relative ease. It’s essentially a house where your web content lives. The system itself doesn’t create quality content – web editors do, but suboptimal Web … Read more >

Hiring Digital Teams Remotely

In March 2017, political analyst and professor of political science Robert Kelly was famously interrupted by his young children during his live BBC interview about South Korea. “BBC Dad,” as he came to be known, desperately tried to keep a straight face as his 4-year-old daughter entered the room, promptly followed by an excited 9-month-old baby and last but not least, their mother. It was an incredibly funny work-from-home moment that received endless messages of support and admiration from working parents around the world.

Fast-forward to now, and you won’t surprise anyone with children making their appearance in work conference … Read more >