University of Bath

New website and publishing platform

The University is building a new website, powered by a new publishing platform designed to support our publishers and strategic aims.

A page of marker sketches of potential designs
We're developing a fresh, mobile-friendly design as part of the project.

We're building a modern digital publishing platform that's designed to meet the needs of the University.

The new publishing platform will:

  • make it simpler for authors in departments to create and maintain their content
  • provide easier access to performance data to inform content decisions
  • offer improved editorial control of content for departments

The new site will:

  • make it easier for users to find information that is useful, accurate and trustworthy
  • have content that's written to meet users' needs
  • work across devices, including phones and tablets
  • be accessible for users with disabilities

We work in line with our digital delivery principles.

Follow our progress

We post project updates on our blog. You can also see our planned work on the Digital Roadmap.

Testing our plan with the Alpha

2 SEP 2014  to  28 FEB 2015

Goal

Test our plans and assumptions for the new site with our users. Trial our design, infrastructure and editorial approach.

What we did

Before we started building the new site and platform, we created an 'Alpha' version of the site.

The Alpha site included a homepage and content from the About section. From 12 January to 28 February 2015, we redirected all staff and students from the existing versions of those pages to the Alpha versions.

During this time, we monitored the Alpha site's performance and collected feedback from our users to test whether our approach was working.

Outcome

The technical infrastructure, design and content strategy performed well, and the Digital Steering Group approved moving on to the Beta phase of the project.

Building the core publishing platform

1 MAR 2015  to  31 AUG 2015

Goal

Develop core features publishers could use to create, edit and publish content.

What we did

  • Delivered the core functionality of a new publishing application
  • Set up the infrastructure
  • Designed 12 new website templates

We built the platform entirely in-house from scratch.

Outcome

At the start of September 2015, we welcomed publishers to the new platform to start transitioning content.

Content inventory and audit

10 MAR 2015  to  13 APR 2015

Goal

Identify all the content on the existing site and decide what to do with it.

What we did

The content team inventoried everything on www.bath.ac.uk. We found:

  • 559,263 live files
  • 160,398 HTML pages
  • over 300 individual sections

Our audit also gathered data about how visitors were using the existing pages and when they were last updated. 84% of HTML pages had not been updated for at least 12 months.

Outcome

We shared the inventories with lead publishers in departments, who audited their content to decide:

  • which content should be transitioned to the new platform, archived or deleted
  • how much work it would need to improve it
  • which new template it should use

Read more about the results of our audit.

Training lead publishers

9 JUN 2015  to  28 SEP 2015

Goal

Introduce the University's publishing community to the platform and give them the skills and knowledge to transition their content to the new system.

What we did

Publishers from across the University participated in a series of training sessions to prepare for transition.

The training sessions covered:

  • auditing existing sections
  • writing user stories
  • creating web content

Outcome

We trained 56 publishers across 43 departments during this phase, and still provide additional training on request.

Transitioning content to the new platform

1 SEP 2015

Goal

Make our website more useful for the people who visit it.

What we're doing

The order in which departments transition is based on:

  • whether or not they have staff in a dedicated digital content role
  • the size of their sections
  • which publishing platform they're currently using

We work with lead publishers to make sure their content:

  • meets the needs of our users
  • is clear, concise and easy to read
  • is accurate and up-to-date
  • doesn't duplicate or contradict other content

All content goes through our review process and is signed off by heads of department before a new section replaces an existing one.

Outcome

The new content will make it easier for users to find answers to their questions and for publishers to maintain it.

Improving the publishing platform

1 SEP 2015

Goal

Continue to improve the publishing platform, creating new features and enhancing existing ones.

What we're doing

We make improvements based on performance data and user feedback.

Planned work includes:

  • developing a site-wide taxonomy and collection pages so users can navigate by topic
  • integrated analytics and performance data so publishers can see how their content is performing
  • building digital tools and transactions that let users complete tasks online
  • regularly testing the site and the publishing platform with students, staff and other users beyond the University

Outcome

By continuing to iterate on our platform, we can make sure it becomes increasingly useful for publishers and remains modern and up-to-date.

New sections go live

6 APR 2016

Goal

Replace the old version of each section with a new, improved version.

What we're doing

Working with colleagues from across the University, so far we've launched 4 departments, 15 groups and 5 subject-based sections. Another 5 sections will go live in the coming weeks.

List of groups, departments and collections live:

Outcome

Users find it easier to complete tasks and find the information they're looking for.

We collect performance data and user feedback about the new design and content so we can continue to update and improve it.

Decommissioning old publishing platforms

Goal

Content on the University website uses a single publishing platform.

What we will do

As we launch new sections, we will begin decommissioning OpenCMS and Dreamweaver. This will be a staggered process, happening department by department.

Once a section goes live in the new publishing platform, the public will no longer be able to access the old version. The section's publishers will still be able to view content in the old platform, but not use it.

When you have moved all your content to the new platform, we will remove your access to OpenCMS and Dreamweaver. When transition to the new site is complete, we will switch off the old platforms entirely.

Outcome

A single platform provides a more cohesive experience for users and publishers. This also means we can spend development time improving functionality for our users, rather than maintaining ageing systems.

Business as usual

Goal

Once a department finishes moving its content to the new platform, they will return to their usual content maintenance cycle.

What we will do

  • Return to our usual web support procedure
  • Continue to provide training and guidance on request

Outcome

All content on the University website remains relevant, accurate and up-to-date.