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Institutional Web Management Workshop: Overall thoughts (IWMW2016)

IWMW2016 Logo This month we went to IWMW16 in Liverpool at Liverpool John Moores University. We took an unusually large group including

  • 2 people from the web & data innovation & development team
  • 1 person from the central IT web development
  • 2 people from the comms and marketing web team

We’ve a lot of notes and we may write some more detailed write ups, but here’s some initial thoughts.


John Moores is a much smaller university than I’m used to, but seemed welcoming and easy to find. Eduroam coverage was good but dropped out regularly.  The audio mics in the large lecture theatre seemed a bit hit and miss, but this may be that we didn’t pay for premium AV support from the venue?

I also was a bit frustrated that the machine used for the plenary talks didn’t do video playback and that reduced the impact at a couple of points, but otherwise things went smoothly.

Liverpool was very warm and cheerful. Would visit again.

A large group

Normally the University of Southampton sends only 1 or 2 people to this event. I (Chris Gutteridge) have been several times and given talks and workshops in the past. The other staff were all coming for the first time and it was really great to get to know the web-staff from other parts of the university. The only regret is that we all sat together at the dinner and I think we’d have been better off deciding to spread outselves out more, but it’s a small thing.

What’s new? What’s not?

Since I last went to IWMW I can see a few changes to what’s being talked about.

Agile methodology for university web teams is growing in popularity with teams working in two week “sprints”. Other teams are still concerned that all their work is still around big-bang projects and that continuous improvement isn’t an option.

There is still a big cultural gap between IT, comms/marketing and academics. As someone who’s worked closely with all 3 I find this unsurprising. I think as a community we could do some work in explaining each culture to the other two. There’s a lot of disrespect and frustration that comes from differing training. For example, many comms and IT staff don’t know much about the peer review process or academic writing. Many academics don’t know much about formal IT processes and data protection. I think there’s some real opportunities for the community in finding good ways to bridge this divide.

What seems to be off the menu is responsive design. I think that is now moving towards business as usual and the arguments for it and best practice is well understood.

What was also a little painful is that ‘continuous transition’ is more a punchline than a fear at this point. Many of the teams have been restructured again and again.

University websites and Computer Science

I work in what is currently titled something like the “University of Southampton Web & Data Innovation & Development Team”. The idea of having both a formal central team and a more lightweight and experimental team seems to be very unsual. We are either an expensive white elephant or a unique selling point for Southampton. I think it’s important to see how our team can learn more how to compliment the central teams rather than duplicate and irritate them. I’d really like to keep working on projects small enough to fail. Trying out things and learning from them to feed into the central team and general best practice. However with the disappearance of Jisc funding for innovation in information infrastructure I think our team are increasingly unique in the UK.

Hopefully we’ll have one or two more posts about IWMW to follow. Also, why do we never host it in Southampton?

Posted in Uncategorized, web management.

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