What to expect when you’re expecting…a new website

The redevelopment of the main website, www.derby.ac.uk, is well underway and we’re inching ever closer to the June launch date. While this is an incredibly exciting time there is still a lot of work to do before the launch and, unfortunately for us, it isn’t simply a case of flipping a switch and marveling at our handy-work. This is going to be the start of a continuous approach to managing and developing our web presence.

What should I expect to go live in June? What happens after the new website is live? Are you sorting out the site search issues?

If you’re asking these questions, read on!

What will be going live in June?

In June we are working to deliver the new website look and feel. This will incorporate the new brand and the assets that have been developed as part of this. Considering we have in the region of 12-15,000 (yes, that’s fifteen thousand…) pages of content to migrate we will be working in a very agile way. Obviously this doesn’t give us a lot of time, so what we won’t be able to do is rewrite and restructure the whole site by the launch day.

Homepage hero image including search
Example of homepage hero including the site search entry point

The priority for June is to migrate a significant proportion of the current content from our current website to our new website, translating this raw content into new components and top level structures. To do this we will be enlisting an ensemble of students to help migrate the content.

Throughout this process we will be using quality assurance processes to review and approve every page as the content gets migrated. So while the content will not have been rewritten, there will be a process by which we can catch any errors as we go.

While we’re pretty good at what we do, the sheer volume of pages that will go live in one day may result in some bugs here and there. To tackle this we have set up a reporting tool which will mean that all members of staff will be able to report bugs for us to fix. Details on this process will be made available around the launch date.

So what happens next? Content redevelopment!

Once the first phase of the website goes live (and we’ve had a quick weekend off – I’m sure we are going to need it!) we will move into a more intensive period of content redevelopment. Over the next 12-18 months a member of my team will be leading a round of successive projects to rewrite and restructure many areas by working with the teams and departments most relevant to each section.

University of Derby Online will be the first project we undertake as it will be technically complex due to the move from it’s existing platform on to TerminalFour.

Through this process we will be looking to re-identify the content owners for each of these areas and get commitment from these key TerminalFour users across the University to audit the pages to an agreed schedule. It’s no good having a shiny new website if the content on it is outdated, poorly written or factually incorrect. As an institution we are rightly accountable for the content on our domains and sub-domains, and we need to manage them with this in the front of our minds.

At this stage we do not have a specific schedule or fully prioritised list of the content review process, but we will be in touch with the relevant teams as we move through this. If you have any specific areas you would like to ensure are put into the schedule, please email digitalmarketing@derby.ac.uk.

Say hello to our new site search (or ‘Insight Engine’) – Funnelback

Our existing site search solutions (there are two different solutions in place) are being retired in favour of something much more advance suitable for our business. The new site search functionality will enable us to do a whole host of cool things:

  • Categorise search results in as many ways as we want, using these categories within specific search results.
  • We can trigger custom results to be included if specific search terms are used. If a user searches for a course name, we can insert a custom result encouraging them to book an open day.
  • Create custom search entry points throughout the site, presetting certain filters/options that are more aligned with the context of the users search usage.
  • Search multiple search collections with just one search.
  • Complete customisation over weighting of results. For example we could look to increase the weighting of international-related search results to traffic browsing from outside the UK.
Visual of search results
How our new site search appliance might look.

While the system offers us a huge amount of customisation, it relies on a lot of work to maintain some of the more technical features so we will be rolling these out over an extended period of time.

So it really is exciting, but busy, times!

While there is still a huge mountain to climb over the next few months, it’s shaping up to be an amazing website that the whole University will benefit from. We’re excited, so we hope that you are too!

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