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 >

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 >

Pros and Cons of Content Versioning in WCM

Professional success in creative industries depends heavily on your confidence. With confidence, ideas take shape quickly, projects get delivered, clients are happy. Without confidence, creativity feels like a journey through a cloud of thick fog and produces results that lack clarity and direction.

Early in my career I worked with an experienced, outgoing and remarkably confident creative director Andy Hutchinson, who is now CEO of a brand and design digital agency called Incredible (Leeds, UK). Back then Andy asked me to make minor amends to the web design concept I developed, in response to client feedback. I made the … Read more >

How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in Web Content Management Projects

There is no shortage of IT projects that ran over time, over budget or under-delivered on value. Managing web CMS projects is hard because it relies on using new unproven technologies, ambiguous terminology, and requires agility in order to accommodate changing requirements. 

Here are some tips that will help you to avoid common mistakes.

Engage with stakeholders and users early and often

In the rush to deliver the project on time, it can be tempting to jump straight into implementation. Whilst this can give a false sense of security early in the project, the risk of not involving the right … Read more >

The Web CMS Project Lifecycle

One of the reasons web CMS projects are so hard is that organizations don’t do them very often. Lessons learned are forgotten a year or so after the project is finished, people move on, and, by the time the web CMS is under review again, most of the previously acquired knowledge of the CMS marketplace is out-of-date.

Lack of experience in running web CMS projects often leads to sketchy planning. Not seeing clearly how the project will develop and what challenges each of the project stages brings makes accurate estimates difficult.

Here is a quick overview of the lifecycle stages … Read more >

Assembling a Winning WCM Project Team

EContent Magazine - Summer 2019Assembling a Winning WCM Project Team, Marianne Kay

The roles and skills required for a successful Web CMS project completion can be divided into three groups: business, content and technical. These groups often work in different departments with conflicting priorities. The first two (business and content) typically belong to marketing, and technical roles are staffed by IT.

When a web CMS project goes well, it’s because of the hard work of people behind the project, who are able to surface and deal with the challenges, not only individually, but also as a team that builds on each other’s expertise.

When a web CMS project goes wrong, it’s usually … Read more >