by guest

Our Favourite Sheffield Places

9:00 am in social by guest

Sheffield has some great places to eat, drink and be merry…you just need to know where to look…

Melissa Nisbett from Eleven has written a few lines introducing us to great places to go and to the Sheffield guide book they produce. All images courtesy of Nigel Barker Photography.

Italian cafe Bragazzi’s

Sheffield has a wealth of vintage, retro and antique shops from the 60s/70s collectibles at homeware boutique Pad to the cavernous warehouse The Sheffield Antiques Centre. Any trip to the city should involve visiting the Abbeydale Road area for a potter around these places plus lunch and coffee at the Italian cafe Bragazzi’s.

Homeware boutique Pad

The Lantern is a tiny Victorian theatre, originally built in 1886 as a private theatre by William Webster, a wealthy cutler who lived in a large adjoining property. The venue was left derelict after World War 2 but was restored to its former glory in the 1950s by a local actress and drama teacher.

The Lantern Theatre

The Sharrowvale Road area is home to a wealth of restaurants, bars and shops. We recommend a walk through Endcliffe Park, visiting the cafe in the park followed by dinner at The Mediteranean, a fish and seafood restaurant nearby.

Endcliffe Park Cafe

Around 60 alpacas live on 40 acres of land in Mayfield Valley in Sheffield. As well as seeing these curiously funny creatures you could combine it with a trip to the David Mellor Design Museum just outside Sheffield in the nearby Peak District. As well as a museum dedicated to the acclaimed designer and manufacturer, there is a shop and cafe, selling and serving a range of delights.

Alpacas in Mayfield Valley

Our Favourite Places is an independent guidebook to the best of Sheffield’s cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and parks. Designed by Eleven, a team of designers living in the city, Our Favourite Places champions independence, focussing on unique places that can only be found in the city.

David Mellor Design Museum

Described as an informed travel guide for curious folk, it features a handpicked selection of over 50 venues and focuses on places that are independently owned and have immense charm. No one has paid to be in the book, instead they were chosen for their character and because they are run with love and care by people trying to do things a bit differently. From tiny Victorian theatres to tucked away vintage shops, and from chinese fondue to the best Italian delis – these are the kind of places that only locals know about.

The Mediteranean Restaurant

A design publication in its own right, the book is thoughtfully designed with beautiful photographs and illustrations, and a handy pull-out map. Our Favourite Places can be purchased for £4 from The book is also available from selected venues across the city – stockists can be found on the Our Favourite Places website. You can also follow Our Favourite Places on Twitter and Flickr.

Antique Centre

Eleven is a graphic design consultancy that creates intelligent and effective design solutions for print, web and brand identity for clients across a range of sectors.

Sheffield University have been working with Eleven on a visitors’ guide to the city which offers a different selection of venues to the Our Favourite Places guide and is more student focused.

This guide will be available in all delegate packs.

by b.kelly

Locations of Speakers and Facilitators at IWMW Since 1997

9:15 am in general by b.kelly

The Web sites for all IWMW events since it was started back in 1997 are still available. Over the past couple of years we have migrated information about the events to a series of RSS files, including RSS files of the speakers and workshop facilitators at the events. Yahoo Pipes has been used to merge together these files. These files contain geo-location information of the host institution of contributors at the event: as can be seen from the images below speakers and workshop facilitators from around the country have shared their experiences over the past 13 years.

Speakers at IWMW events from 1997-2010Workshop facilitators at IWMW events from 1997-2010

It seems that there have been about 152 plenary speakers and 278 facilitators – although note that these are estimates and are not based on unique individuals (i.e. if a speaker gives a talk and runs workshop session they will be included twice and will also be included for every contribution made over the years). Also note that the locations typically gives the location of the host institution of the speaker (and we have not included location information for speakers from the commercial sector).

If you would like to explore this geo-location information for yourself you can use Yuan  to view information about the location of the workshop facilitators or, to demonstrate how an alternative mapping service can be easily used, use to view the location of the speakers.

Also note that you can also make use of the Yahoo Pipes used to merge the speakers and facilitators RSS files. A page is also available which provides links to all of the RSS feeds we have provided.

by b.kelly

Sponsored Place for those with No Funding

11:53 am in Admin, sponsors by b.kelly

We are pleased to announce that, thanks to the sponsorship provided by Statistics into Decisions (or SiD), we are able to offer a limited number of free places to participants who would like to attend the IWMW 2010 but are unable to do so due to lack of institutional support.

Statistics into Decisions help clients understand their online space with intelligent analysis. The company was founded by Ranjit Sidhu who will be giving a plenary talk at IWMW on So what do you do exactly?’ In challenging times justifying the roles of the web teams.

The sponsorship will cover the costs of the 3 day event and two night’s accommodation.

If you would like to apply for a sponsored place you should send an email to Marieke Guy, the programme chair of IWMW 2010 by 17:00 on Friday 25th June with details of:

  • The benefits you feel that attendance at IWMW 2010 will provide for you and your institution.
  • How you feel you can participate at IWMW 2010 in order to enhance the event.

You should also provide details of the reasons you are seeking funding to attend.

Note that in case of the number of applications exceeding the numbers of sponsored places the IWMW 2010 organising committee will allocate the places based on the information provided in the submissions.

by guest

Website Search for Higher Education

3:00 pm in sponsors by guest

The economic challenges faced by web managers in the HE sector are a key theme of this year’s IWMW. Providing effective website search can be a surprisingly efficient way to ensure that the results from your web investments are maximised and can even save you money.

Offering fast and usable access to your online information ensures that users can find what they’re looking for on your websites. This makes your sites more usable, maximises the productivity of staff and enhances the ROI on your business information. It can also reduce the support costs associated with enquires and customer service, and improve the promotion of courses and research.

Benefits of effective website search for Higher Education

There are a number of ways in which investment in effective search can deliver handsome returns:

  1. If prospective students can’t find the information or course that they’re interested in, they are likely to leave the website and look at the next institution on their hitlist. The easier it is for them to find course information, the more likely they are to enrol at the university.
  2. Easy access to information on the web, for both students and staff, can significantly reduce support costs related to handling email, telephone or in-person enquiries.
  3. Staff productivity can improve with time-efficient location of policies, procedures and other online resources.
  4. Potential donors, investors, and business partners may be deterred if they are unable to find the information about staff, projects, activities and research in which they are interested.
  5. The university’s media profile can be increased if journalists are able to locate appropriate people to interview and quote.
  6. Monitoring searches on your website through the use of reports can help to highlight areas of the site which need to be tweaked to meet user demand, and can also highlight documents which need to have their content or metadata adjusted to improve their search visibility –also benefiting SEO for external search engines.

Things to consider for your Website Search

There are a huge number of factors to take into account when appraising and improving your website search, or when selecting a new search product. These factors will depend on your website objectives and the needs of your users, but s a starting point, think about the following things:

  1. Given the importance of these potential returns from a high quality search facility, it is worth clearly assigning the responsibility of monitoring and maintaining the search function within the web management team, ideally to a dedicated “SearchMaster”.

  2. Consider the additional features that you need from a search solution, beyond effective search results. Features such as analytics, reporting, alerts, faceted navigation, spelling suggestions, multi-lingual capabilities, query autocompletion and contextual navigation can all play a vital role in improving the user experience and search effectiveness.
  3. What is the most appropriate deployment option for the search facility? Whether you go for a hosted, cloud based or installed solution will depend on the level of your in-house technical resources, how much support you will need and the degree of flexibility, security and control you’d like to have over your search.

We’ll be on hand at the IWMW to discuss these and other issues, and will also be offering demos of Funnelback Search, our Website and Enterprise Search solution, as well as our Content Management System, MySource Matrix. Be sure to pop by and see us.

By Hannah Cooper from Squiz and David Hawking from Funnelback. Squiz will have a stand at the IWMW 2010 exhibition.

by guest

Plenary 2: Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web 'expert'?

10:02 am in plenaries by guest

In these cash-strapped times, I believe any sensible Institution should be increasing their web professionals as they can provide many efficiencies and savings by web enabling processes and reducing printing costs (among other things).

So do you find that you are less valued than you used to be or more? Are you seen as the person who can save money by web enabling processes, or as someone who can be replaced by one of those web ‘experts’ who lurk in every organisation?

If this is the case then you will benefit from my plenary Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web ‘expert’?

See you there.

Susan Farrell

A Mobile Tech' discussion

10:18 am in workshops by a.m.-doherty

Anthony Doherty, Computing Officer at Liverpool John Moores University will be facilitating a parallel session on Mobile Apps vs Mobile Web. Here Anthony talks about a late night Twitter discussion considering some of the issues and possibly some of the answers…

A day or so ago a colleague from another Higher Education Institution in the region asked on Twitter what the ‘most wanted’ features of a University mobile website might be for external users.

The conversation started a little after 9PM, and among the first respondents were some of my colleagues and ex-colleagues, with a range of expertise – from developers to learning technologists.

With staff, students and all account-based requirements such as email set-aside, responses suggested location maps, summaries of key institutional information, key contacts and so on.

Taking in the broader remit, it’s clear our task is not an easy one. Higher Education has one of the most interesting ranges of users: students on campus, international students, distance learners, academic and non-academic staff, sessional lecturers and conference attendees.

Seasonally some groups relocate, or almost disappear, while others are constant. Some groups will number in their thousands remain for years, while others will be small and their needs considerable for just a few days. User needs can change quickly as semesters progress.

How do we deliver effectively the content they want to a screen often little larger than a credit card, via sometimes costly, and possibly intermittent connections? Looking to our websites for a moment, it is clear that a homepage of grouped or tiered links and notifiers just isn’t suitable.

As the Twitter conversation developed, a theme emerged – survey the users, create audience specific ‘split’ content, review web analytics and research from other institutions; seasonally adjust content and try to anticipate mobile use-cases like being on a train – or really, really needing to get someone’s number NOW!

Did we provide the answers? Or did we simply rephrase the question? These issues and more on the topic of mobile provision for HE will be the focus of the “Mobile Apps vs Mobile Web” discussion at this year’s Workshop.

Note that due to a family bereavement Andrew was unable to run this session. In his absence the session was facilitated by Michael Nolan and Mark Power.

by b.kelly

Recommend IWMW 2010 on your Personal Networks

9:33 am in community, technologies by b.kelly

If you are attending IWMW 2010 would you be interested in sharing your interest in the event on your personal networks or on a number of popular social recommender services?  Or perhaps you would like to recommend particular talks or sessions at the event.

We are currently evaluating the OpenLike protocol which is described as “an open protocol to allow sharing the things people like in a simple and standard method between web applications“.

Openlike iconsWe have implemented the OpenLike widget on the IWMW 2010 home page which provides the illustrated icons on the home page. So if you want to recommend the event on the HunchDiggReddit or Stumbleon services this is now a simple way of doing this.

We have also embedded this interface on the individual pages for the plenary talks and intend to do the same for the workshop sessions.  So if you want to share  your thoughts on, say Paul Boag’s plenary talk, you can now do so.

Facebook Like news feedIn addition to OpenLike we are also evaluating the Facebook’s Like mechanism which allows Facebook users to share their recommendations with their Facebook followers.  This is  available on the IWMW 2010 home page It has also been implemented on the page for the workshop session on  ”Engagement, Impact, Value: Measuring and Maximising Impact Using the Social Web“. As you can see, if a Facebook user clicks on the Recommend icon which has been used in preference to the default Like option) this will be displayed in their Facebook news feed.

Note, though, that as the pages providing information on the plenary talks and workshop sessions contain RDFa data, it does not seem possible to include the Facebook Like code into these pages without making the pages invalid (the Facebook Like code contains an <IFRAME> element which cannot be used in an RDFa+HTML page.  We will investigate whether it is possible to embed the code in a valid way.

Are these approaches which others think are useful?

by m.guy

Plenary 6: Time to hire a web design agency?

9:05 am in plenaries by m.guy

Paul Boag will be giving a plenary talk for us on No money? No matter – Improve your website with next to no cash. Here are his controversial thoughts on hiring a Web design agency…

No plans to redesign your site?
Now is the time to hire a web design agency

Many website owners hire their web design agency at the wrong time. Instead of hiring a web designer when you need work done, hire them when you don’t!

Traditionally website owners hire a web design agency when they are unhappy with their website and have the budget to do something about it. However, I have come to believe that the best time to hire a web design agency is when budgets are tight and you are reasonably happy with your website.

Am I mad? Well, possibly. However, let me explain my logic.

Flaws with the traditional model

Image of a web designer reluctant to stop working on a website

prodakszyn, Shutterstock

My madness began with a belief that the current way most website owners engage with web design agencies is wrong. Normally things work something like this…

  1. The website owner becomes unhappy with his site and decides things need to change.
  2. He concludes the site needs redesigning and so writes a brief before asks web agencies to pitch for the work.
  3. The agencies respond and one is selected for a expensive redesign of the site.
  4. The agency throws out the old site and builds a new one.
  5. The website owner pays the web agency and they go their separate ways.
  6. Slowly the site decays as the business changes and new features/content is added.
  7. Sometime later the website owner becomes dissatisfied again and the process repeats.

This approach of sporadic redesign is flawed for a number of reasons…

  • It is wasteful because it throws out the old site and begins again every few years.
  • It is financial painful as a considerable budget has to be found for each redesign.
  • The website owner defines the project alone without the advice and support of a web expert.
  • The user is confused by a dramatic change in the website. This often causes hostility (take for example the campaign against Facebook’s redesign).
  • Choosing the right agency is a huge risk thanks to the large financial commitment involved.
  • The chosen agency lacks the in-depth knowledge of the business required to create a successful website.
  • The site quickly degrades as the business begins to add new content and features. This means that for much of its life the site reflects badly on the business.

Surely there is a better way.

Working in long term partnership

The answer is for the website owner and web agency to work in a much more fluid, dynamic and ongoing relationship. This solves a lot of the problems with the existing system.

Instead of sporadic redesign with its intrinsic waste and enormous one off expenditure, you have an ongoing development process that is constantly tweaking and evolving the website.

Because both parties are working together regularly it gives the agency a chance to really understand the business drivers for the website and how the web can help meet organisational needs.

In turn it gives the website owner the opportunity to build confidence in the agency, so the next time a big project come along there is no risky decision about selecting a supplier.

Most importantly this partnership ensures the website is constantly being given attention, and that the website owner has an outside perspective when making crucial decisions. It also allows him to benefit from the agencies expertise and experiences cultivated from working on other sites.

Of course some of you may have an in-house team that fulfils this role. However do they really?

But we have an in-house team

In theory if you have an in-house web team there should be no need for a web agency who provides an ongoing collaborative role. However in my experience there is a big difference between theory and practice.

Most of the web teams I encounter are unable to fulfil this role for two reasons that are entirely beyond their control…

They are overworked

I am yet to encounter a web team who are not overworked. They are developing new features, dealing with support queries, adding new content and doing endless day-to-day tasks that prevent them from looking at their website from a strategic viewpoint.

Having an outside expert with whom they can discuss the future direction of their site is invaluable. Not only does it help maintain a broad vision, it also ensures that things stay on track and strategy doesn’t get crowded out by day-to-day details.

Let me give you an example. At Headscape we have an outside advisor called Brian who joins us at our board meetings. He serves three roles…

  • He provides an outside perspective that comes from working with many different companies like our own.
  • He forces us to look strategically at our business rather than discussing the delivery of our latest piece of client work.
  • He holds us accountable and will challenge us if we fail to do what has been agreed at previous meetings.

I would argue that every web team needs somebody like Brian.

They miss design details

Most web teams don’t have a full time designer. They are normally made up of content people, project managers and techies. In some way this is understandable. Once a design is set it normally doesn’t need to change very much.

However with the web team focused on content and features there is nobody ensuring the design is maintained. Changes to a website can undermines the consistency in a design that makes a website trustworthy. Suddenly things stop lining up, buttons are styled in different ways and the slick professional feel falls away.

It is also important to remember that design dates very quickly online because of the speed of innovation. It’s therefore important that somebody is keeping an eye on these design details if a major periodic redesign is to be avoided.

So presuming I have sold you on this alternative approach, how does it work practically?

How it works in practice

The key to this approach is one lifted from agile development and is built around a monthly meeting.

Whether our meeting needs to be monthly, weekly or quarterly is entirely up to you. That decision should be based on how much your website changes. For a busy website that is continually being developed you will need frequent reviews. For a more informational site that rarely changes, once a quarter maybe enough. What matters is that the meetings are regular.

The meeting themselves will focus on two areas.

Strategic aims – These meetings are a chance to step back and look at the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve through the site. This discussion may raise questions (such as what is the competition doing?) or it may identify weaknesses that need addressing. However, whatever the case it is an opportunity to get out of the trenches and see the bigger picture.

Immediate goals – Each meeting should end with a series of immediate goals that need to be achieved before the next meeting. These are practical ‘next step’ actions. They might include a review of the competition or an A/B test on some piece of content. The point is to have some concrete ways of achieving the more strategic goals.

Some of the work to be done will fall to the outside agency, others to the website owner. There may also be times when a third party is required for certain work. Whoever does the work it has to be completed by the next meeting.

This timescale constraint prevents large, time consuming projects that often stall or slip. Instead each development cycle will focus on a few quick fixes.

At the next meeting the actions are reviewed to see if they have been completed before the next steps are set. Once that is done the next meeting is scheduled… and so on.

No strings attached

What is great about this ‘one development cycle at a time’ approach is that it limits the commitment the website owner have towards their agency. If the website owner wished, they could have a single session with an agency and decide never to schedule another meeting if they particularly disliked them.

Equally they could schedule a few meetings and then swap to another agency to gain fresh perspective if the original agency is not coming up with the goods.

Finally, they could choose not to use the web agency for all the work within a development cycle, but to do most of it in-house or even use a student!

There is no contract and no massive expenditure. It is the cost of the next meeting and nothing more.

Of course this is also great in the current economy where management is carefully controlling expenditure. Getting a large redesign approved maybe impossible. However, paying for an hour long meeting once a month is more achievable. The website owner gets all of the expertise of an outside agency, without the long term commitment or big budgets.

Take the first step today

The great thing about this approach is that you can start it today, even if you have no redesign planned and no real budget for your site.

If you have an existing web design agency, give them a call and ask whether you can schedule the first of a monthly meeting to discuss your website. Explain that you are happy to pay for their time, but you want to keep things light weight and flexible. Chances are they will be willing to accommodate you. If they or not, then perhaps it is time to look elsewhere.

by b.kelly

Contributing to the Blog and Social Network

9:54 am in community by b.kelly

Contributing to the IWMW 2010 Blog

The initial posts published on this blog have provided introductions to the IWMW 2010 organisers together with a summary of many of the areas which will be addressed at this year’s event.

In addition to posts from the organisers we would also welcome contributions from the wider community. This opportunity might be particularly relevant for speakers and workshop facilitators who wish to provide background information to their session in advance of the workshop, for example. However if you’re not running a session but feel that you have something relevant to say feel free to get it touch.  The contact for anyone wishing to write a guest blog post is Marieke Guy.

Contributing to the IWMW 2010 Social Network

In addition to blog posts as described in a post on Networking with BuddyPress the BuddyPress social network is also available. BuddyPress is available for use by participants and topics can cover a broad range of areas – the group on Sunday 11 July: Social Arrangements – (World Cup Final) provides a good example which is likely to be of interest to many who may be arriving at Sheffield that day before the start of IWMW 2010 (especially is England do manage to progress to the final!).

So feel free to initiate discussions on topics you feel will be of interest to fellow participants.

by b.kelly

Networking with BuddyPress

9:00 am in community, technologies by b.kelly

Use of Blogs and Social Networks at Previous Events

For the IWMW 2008 event we made use of a Ning social network to provide a forum for discussions and also an opportunity to evaluate the potential of social networking software to support an event.  The service was easy to set up and (at the time) there was no costs for use of the service.  However we found that the discussion forums were little used and, with the exception of the group on “Web CMS and University Web Teams Part II – the Never Ending Story?“, there was also littler takeup of the Ning groups.

Last year we decided that IWMW 2009 would be supported by an event blog. This proved successful, enabling the event organisers to keep participants informed of developments in the run-up to the event and, during the event itself, to publish summaries of the various talks and also include video clips and interviews with a number of the participants.

However use of the WordPress blog meant that the content we published was under the control of the organisers; we had lost the ability for participants themselves to initiate discussions.

Developments for IWMW 2010

This year we are again using a WordPress blog.  However we have installed the BuddyPress WordPress plugin as part of the blog environment.

BuddyPress is an open source social networking software package and the plugin transforms the blog into a social network platform.

Using BuddyPress will provide an opportunity for delegates (and remote participants) to network before, during and after the event. BuddyPress allows you to become a member of the site, add a user profile, create groups and group discussion forums, become ‘friends’ with other members and message them.

We will be interested to see if greater usage is made of the social networking environment at this year’s event. Is there, I wonder, a real demand for social networking software to support an event?