H1’s and why they’re important to your web pages

Dan Lott, Web Designer

Dan Lott, Web Designer

An H1 or Heading 1 is an HTML tag that is used to display the most important heading of a web page – the Page Heading.

HTML has 6 Heading tags in total. The H1 tag defines the top heading of the page, with the levels H2-6 used for subheadings nested in logical order to structure your text. So any subheadings of your H1 should be marked as H2 tags; subheadings of these H2 headings should be H3 and so on through the levels. It’s important not to miss a level out or to use heading tags to format text that isn’t actually a heading. In practice you rarely need to use the lowest levels H5-6, which are styled using the smallest font, but they are available for that level of structure if it is genuinely required, for example in an official policy document transferred to the web.

Every page should have an H1 and they should only appear once at the top of the page. All of your web pages should have unique page headings because every page should contain unique content. (Note – on the University’s website you should also use Sentence case).

The HTML code for an H1 looks like this:
<h1>Page title displays here</h1>

Usability

A good page heading should describe the content of the page in just a few words, so one of the most important reasons to use H1′s properly is for usability purposes:

  • When you select the H1 tag the text will automatically be styled so that it is bigger and bolder than the rest of the page’s text (including other headers) and this adds visual appeal and a hierarchy to the page.
  • When people are reading online they tend to quickly scan pages for the information they are looking for so your page heading will be the first thing that your audience will read and as such should let them know that they are in the right place and that the content of the page is relevant to them.
  • It will help people who are using a screen reader to access your content.

Search Engine Optimisation

The secondary purpose of  an H1 tag is that search engines place importance on H1’s in their search algorithms (and – to a diminishing extent – to H2’s, H3’s etc.) Search engines such as Google use Search Spiders to index websites and these pay most attention to the content wrapped in H1 tags.

You can try placing keywords (words that you envisage people will use to search for your page) into your page heading to try and help your search engine position, but only try this if it makes sense to – the main emphasis should be choosing a heading that describes the page’s content.

How to create an H1 title

Most templates that you will use have an element called Heading. These include www Page with Feature Image and www Page with no Feature Image.

Add the text into the Heading element that you want to be the title for your page. The template will then automatically display this text as an H1.

Heading1On templates that do not have a dedicated heading element (eg: www Page) you will need to create your own H1 tag. Follow these instructions:

  1. Create your section and add the www Page template.
  2. Add a name for this piece of content in the Name field.
  3. In the Main Body field, enter the text you would like to be your H1.
  4. Highlight the text using your cursor.
  5. Go to the Format drop down box just above this field and select Heading 1.
  6. You will now see the text appear slightly larger and bolder.
  7. Press the Enter key on your keyboard and continue typing the text to display on the page.
  8. You can also use the above steps to add subsequent H2’s, H3’s etc… as sub titles to the page.

For further details on how to add heading please see Formatting text in T4 Site Manager on the Web Support Site.

By Dan Lott, University of Exeter Web Designer

Building a community and contributing on social media

social media communityOnce you have created your social media channels  you need to ensure you have the time to update and engage with your audience.  Whether you are using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or one of the countless others, you should remember a few key points:

  • Stay active and don’t give up
  • Understand and build your audience
  • Do not over promote
  • Be human

Stay active and don’t give up

It takes time to build a community, and though it may be disheartening, the key is to keep posting even when you only have a few followers.  Share interesting links and write your content like you have thousands of followers, even if you only have 10.

Respond to anyone that connects with your social media channel (via comments, likes, direct messages e.t.c)  and try to encourage more interaction by asking questions and encouraging users to share ideas and photos. You also want people to connect with each other and not just you so encourage community questions, share tips and get involved.

If you are asked a question on social media you need to answer it without delay, users expect an almost immediate reaction, and a long delay will be viewed negatively.

You have to stay active on social media channels to make them successful.  It is a good idea to create a post diary, reminders in outlook, or schedule posts in advance to ensure your message are going out frequently.

Frequently, but not so much to annoy.  There is no definitive right answer to how often you should post.  Ensure that your content is good and relevant.  If you continually retweet others or ask for users to share your site you are providing nothing new or original and will lose followers. You need to find a balance between sharing and listening.

Understand and build your audience

Knowing from the start the type of audience you are aiming at should dictate everything. What will they enjoy? What do they want to read? What will they share? Will they like? What will make them comment?  When will they retweet?

You also want your audience to know what your account is all about – so ensure that you have a clear “about us” section so your audience knows what to expect.

You can grow your audience by connecting with other social media accounts of interest by liking, commenting, sharing and retweeting.  This will get you noticed by interested parties who will then in turn look at your accounts.

Content is king. If you make your content useful, relevant, interesting, current and worth reading then you will attract and keep a loyal following.  You want to be regarded as a trustworthy source of valuable information so make all of your posts count.  You could write a regular blog or news articles, create an infographic or a Prezi, or run an online poll on a relevant topic – get creative and remember that bite-size and easy to digest information will work best.

The organic reach of posts in Facebook have been declining rapidly recently with Facebook moving more towards paid reach. You can still reach a significant number of people when your post engages users (likes/comments/shares) but it might be worth considering using Facebook advertising which allows for highly targeted campaigns (eg aimed at a certain age in a certain area etc).  Be sure to look at the Insights in you Facebook page to fully analyse your stats before you decide whether advertising is for you.

Do not over promote

Share what your audience will enjoy  and do not constantly sell your business by attempting to attract new members and ask for shares.  If you make your content good enough it will be worth sharing.  That’s not to say you can never ask for shares or retweets – just limit it. E.g. using the #DevonHour hashtag on a Wednesday from 8pm for an hour to promote Devon based businesses is a great example of how once a week you can successfully self promote.

Be human

Although we have to be professional at all times when using social media (see guidelines), you can still show that there is a real person behind the screen.  Some of the most popular posts on our channels are a simple photo of the beautiful campus with a very human commentary.

By Jo Morrison,
Web Marketing Officer for Campus Services

Knowing your audience and capturing interest

Jane Tanner

Jane Tanner, Web Marketing Officer for the College of Social Sciences and International Studies

Count to ten!

That is how long you have to spark interest in your web page! A visitor will decide within approximately 10 seconds whether he or she stays on your page or bounces off elsewhere.

When we create sites, we act as though people are going to pore over each page, reading our finely crafted text, figuring out how we’ve organised things, and weighing their options before deciding which link to click.

What they actually do most of the time (if we’re lucky) is glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their eye. There are usually large parts of the page that they don’t even look at. In fact they act like Ginger!

So how do you capture their interest

Analyse your audience

Firstly find out anything you can about your audience. An understanding of your visitors’ mindset is a critical factor in capturing their interest and attention. A postgraduate and undergraduate student will be looking for very different information.  An academic may be looking for something else completely.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are my users? Make up a persona for each category of visitor and put yourself in their shoes.
  • What do they come to my website to do and in what sequence?
  • What are their frustrations?
  • What is their level of English?
  • What is their level of understanding of my subject?

And don’t try and guess what your users are thinking. Ask a student or organise a user-testing session. We can help with this.

Identify your target audience

After a thorough analysis you should be able to determine the specific audience that you are reaching and what makes them tick. This is your target audience. Gear all of your website content to these people and provide them with the information they are seeking in a way that they will appreciate.

Focus your website content

  • Get to the point straight away. Put your key messages at the top of the page with your key words and phrases in the first two paragraphs;
  • Use their language.  Think about the words they will be looking for and will understand. If you have to use technical jargon, make sure you pad it with lots of everyday language so that it is easy to read and understand.
  • Anchor your reader.  Use eye catching ‘call to actions’ to lead your user to the information you want them to read. This could be apply for a course, book an open day, watch a video or download a brochure.

More about writing for the web can be found on the web support site.

If you need help with anything you can always ask your Web Marketing Officer for assistance.

Jane Tanner,
Web Marketing Officer for the College of Social Sciences and International Studies

The basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Getting your website or web page in the top 5 of a search engine results page is what we all strive to achieve. This basic guide will get you started with everything you can do while using our content management system, SiteManager by T4.

Well written, unique content

Search engines look for well structured, uncluttered, original content. It actively penalises content that has simply been copied and pasted from elsewhere, or is very hard to read unstructured text. Google especially favours web pages that are easy for humans to read and understand.

Headings

Make use of the drop-down menu in the tool bar that usually says “Paragraph” or “Format”. Use it to separate and highlight your content as I have done here with the steps. Search engines use this as an indicator of importance and relevance.

There should only ever be one “Heading 1″ on a page, this should summarise the whole page in just a few words. Headings should then follow in an hierarchical fashion so that it’s easy to scan through a page and work out what the proceeding paragraph is about.

Do not use bold for headings. It is ok to use it in moderation within paragraphs, it should be used for emphasis within a sentence and nothing more.

Page (Section) and URL names

One of the most effective changes you can make to your page is to include your target keywords in the name of the page (section in T4) and in the URL. Try not to use acronyms as search engines have no idea what they mean.

In T4 SiteManager you can set the page name and URL on the General tab when you modify a section

T4 Page name and URL example

Note the name and Output URI fields

In the above example the page name is very descriptive, but would be too long for a URL, in the Output URI field you’ll see this has been shortened to just contain health-safety, much better than HaSECaM!

Links

Links to and from your page are very important. Search engines analyse the sites that are linking to you for relevance and authority. For instance; If the BBC uses one of our press releases and creates a news story on their website, they will usually link back to the relevant page on our site. This will help our page massively because the BBC page is relevant, its content discusses the same subject as our page. Secondly the BBC is obviously highly respected so search engine deem it to be an authority on what is a good page to link to or not.

Social media

This has become increasingly important over the past few years, search engines presume that if a number of people are ‘liking’, ‘sharing’, ‘tweeting’ or ‘blogging’ about another site, it’s probably worth looking at. The more people discussing and sharing the item linked to your site, the more influence this has on search engines.

Social media is an important tool for your business, if you require advice on how to use it please see the Social media guidelines section on our website.

Additional help

Every month the web team provides T4 drop-in sessions that you can attend and ask questions about building web sites, please check your emails for dates and locations.

Contact your Web Marketing Officer for more information.

Alastair Brown,
Web Marketing Officer for the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Our new research gateway

Jenna Richards

Jenna Richards

An introduction to our new research gateway from Jenna Richards, Web Marketing Officer for Research and Knowledge Transfer.

When an article in the Guardian titled ‘Where are Universities Hiding all their Research?’ dropped into my inbox it got me thinking about what Exeter could be doing to better showcase all our fantastic research. As a University we weren’t showing off the impact of our research to our best ability and there were loads of great stories out there just waiting to be told.

So I started planning…

Fast-forward a year and we have just launched the new research gateway – a feature-led page designed with multiple audiences in mind which showcases our research and its real world applications.

The page has a regular research feature giving our audiences an in-depth look into an area of research and how this can make a difference. These features alternate with business features aimed at industry stakeholders giving the lowdown on some of the great work our students and academics are doing in the business arena.

The research gateway

The research gateway

We also run three regular ‘in focus’ pieces. In the researcher in focus section our team talk to academics about their research and achievements while partnership in focus delves deeper into the some of the great work we are doing with external partners, detailing how these relationships came about and developed. We also look in detail at our research groups and centres in the group in focus. These features tell you more about the real-world applications of the research being undertaken by the group or helps businesses understand how these groups may be able to work with them.

The launch of the research gateway has made a massive difference to the number of research and business stories we are able to tell. But the journey from idea to launch was a long one.

My first task was to think in detail about our audiences. Who are they? What do they want when they come to the research pages? What do they want to do on these pages? And what do we want them to do on these pages?

Armed with this information I could now start thinking about the kind of content we needed to produce to appeal to those people and just as importantly how I would resource the creation of that content.

When considering content it was important to have the wants and needs of our audiences in mind at all times. For example the business community primarily want to know what we could do for them. Academics (past, present and future) want to know what ground-breaking research we are doing in their area and want more information about our current academics.

It was also essential to prove that the team could create regular copy for this new page. We started producing copy nine months before the page was launched – and have published an average of three articles a week ever since! This is a closely managed process. We are constantly on the lookout for stories and we meet weekly to discuss ideas and set the agenda – I usually have stories planned in at least a month in advance.

The next stage was design. How do we create a front page that directs people to all the relevant places in the research and business sites whilst showcasing our research and providing links to all the stories we wanted to tell?

A general rule in web design is that if 90 per cent of people are doing it that way you should do it too. However 90 per cent of universities don’t take this approach to communicating their research, so we were already breaking the mould. I decided to look at news websites for ideas as they also convey a lot of information on one page and have a similar type of content.

I produced some initial drawings of my ideas and handed them over to our web designer to work his magic. A few months later we had a site that was ready to put in front of users and see what they thought.

The experience of sitting down with target users, observing how they use the site and gathering their feedback is invaluable. Based on their feedback we made a number of changes before the final site was made live.  We quietly put the page live at the beginning of May and have been really pleased with the feedback we have received so far.

It is too early to do any in depth analysis analytics to see how the page is performing but generally views have increased since the page was launched. There is also some evidence that the pages are performing well in search engines and driving visitors to the site.

Future plans are to investigate which types of stories drive substantial traffic to the pages and build on these ideas. We are also investigating how we can syndicate our content to other websites and blogs.

If you have any story ideas please contact jenna.richards@exeter.ac.uk.

Jenna Richards
Web Marketing Officer for Research and Knowledge Transfer

Mentions and @replies on Twitter

Andy Morgan

Taking the time to actively comment on people’s tweets can be a great way to start conversations and build relationships and networks on Twitter. Mentions and @replies are the tools that allow this to happen

The @ symbol is used to denote every Twitter account’s unique username – the username for the University’s main account for example is @uniofexeter.

Mentions

When you include someone’s username (with the @ symbol and no spaces) within the body of a tweet this is called a mention.

Followers who see your tweet will be able to click on the username of the person you mention to find out more about them and follow them if they choose.

The person you mention will receive a notification that will appear in their notification tab when they next login to Twitter. Here they’ll be able to see your tweet along with any other tweets that mention them. By default Twitter also emails users when they receive a mention (this can be switched off but many people don’t bother) so it can be a great way of getting the attention of specific people even if they are not following you.

The number of notifications you have is indicated by the number hovering next to the notifications tab

You might mention people for lots of different reasons, for example:

  • to ask them a question
  • to respond to something they’ve said
  • to ask them to re-tweet something to their followers
  • to make a complaint (the public nature of Twitter can make this a very effective way of getting problems resolved quickly!)

Follow Friday

There’s a friendly tradition on Twitter each Friday where you mention accounts that you think are worth following in order to;

  1. get your followers to follow them too, and
  2. acknowledge that you like what they’re up to

You’ll usually see these with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday.

@replies

If you begin your tweet with somebody’s username this is called an @reply, these can be used to reply to or comment on a specific tweet that has gone out.

@replies are still mentions and therefore the person who’s username you include will still receive a notification, however your response will only show up in the home feeds of people that are following BOTH your account and the account you are replying to – users following one or the other will not see it.

To send an @reply click the reply icon next to the tweet you want to comment on and the compose box will open with the original tweeters username automatically inserted at the start.

@replying in this way will mean that your tweet is linked to the original tweet, and people who see it will have the option of viewing the original message too.

A common mistake

You can still start a Tweet with somebody’s username even if it is not an @reply, however this is one of the most frequent mistakes I see on Twitter.

Many people (usually businesses wishing to promote their products or services to our students) contact the current students account (@uoe_students) with our username at the start of their tweet in the hope that this will automatically be seen by all of our followers – it won’t. Again only the people following both accounts will see it, so fewer than just tweeting normally.

This Tweet would only appear in the feeds of people following both @Head24a and @UofExeterSport

Andy Morgan
Web Marketing Officer for Academic Services 

More appropriate and useful images

A poor quality image will add little to your page and can look unprofessional

When you choose an image or graphic for the University website it is important to consider how appropriate and useful it is for the page on which you want to use it.

Remember that people do not spend a long time reading online and their eyes are often drawn to images first. A good image can be a useful visual clue in letting visitors know what the content of the page is about and that they are in the right place. When combined with a caption they can be an effective way of highlighting your key messages.

Some of the main considerations when selecting images are:

Context

Does your image relate to the content? Abstract or generic pictures do have their place, but ensure that the image you use is relevant and doesn’t change the meaning of the text. Think about who the audience is and what your key messages are – try to select a picture that supports or illustrates these.

Take care when using stock photos containing images of staff and students on pages about sensitive topics, such as obesity and mental health, as they may not be happy about their photo being used in this way.

Quality

Is your image good quality? Images that are blurry, dark, or out of focus will add little to your page and can look unprofessional.

If you try to enlarge a small image (e.g. one that has been previously cropped for another use) it will become pixelated and grainy, so it is always best to resize an original image file, if possible.

Quantity

It is possible to add several images to a page, but again you should consider whether this supports your aims for the page or makes the page look too busy and detracts from the text. Usually one or two images will be enough, but don’t be afraid not to include an image if you do not have an appropriate one.

Date

Are you using a recent photo? Staff members might feel that a photo taken twenty years ago is more flattering but it is better to use one that is current so they can be recognised as a point of contact. Also be wary of using photos that include staff members that have now left the University.

Equally with all the recent development on campus make sure that photos of buildings are up to date as this could be confusing.

Overuse

Does your photo appear in several places on the site already? Some of our stock photography has been around for several years now and a number of the better shots have been overused. If possible it’s better to avoid reusing these.

Hidden dangers

Always look at what is going on in the background of photos as this can be problematic. Beware of photobombers getting up to mischief!

Watch out for signboards and slogans or logos on t-shirts – you don’t want to accidentally endorse a controversial message.

Permissions

Check that you have permission to use an image before publishing it online. People often wrongly think that it is acceptable to search for images through search engines such as Google Images and download them to use on their own webpages. Watch out – this is likely to infringe copyright and could lead to a hefty fine. Ensure that you have obtained the image owner’s permission (preferably by email) to use it before publishing online. Don’t forget to credit them in the caption or text. You can read more about sourcing images and copyright in a separate post.

If using images that you have taken yourself please be aware that you need get any students, staff or members of the public that appear in the shots to sign a form to say they are happy for their photo to be used on the University website

Take care when using brand logos. These often have strict guidelines surrounding their use, so make sure that you adhere to them. If the logo has a white background you also need to put a 1 pixel grey border around the edge to prevent it looking as though it is floating on the page – if you’re unsure how to do this you can ask your Web Marketing Officer for assistance.

Sally Cowling
Web Marketing Officer for the Medical School 

Think carefully when changing web page addresses

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams, Web Marketing and Editorial Officer

You will have learned in T4 training how to rename a section, and also drag and drop sections to reorganise your site structure. Both these operations are really helpful when you’re creating new sites, letting you refine your structure as you develop the content, until you are happy to launch it to the World Wide Web for people to start using it.

But be warned – once your site is live and people have been using it for a while, moving pages around and renaming navigation labels can potentially change some or all of your web addresses – also commonly referred to as ‘URL’ (Uniform Resource Locator) or ‘URI’ (Uniform Resource Indicator). This change will break links to your site and adversely affect your site users and search engines’ ability to find your content.

Renaming sections and media library categories

Sections in the T4 site structure and category folders in the T4 Media Library have names that can be changed, but they both generate folder names in the web addresses of the published pages and media items such as Word documents or pdfs. So changing one folder name can break many existing links to your pages and documents.

Bear in mind that if a section name is changed for a section that has subsections, all those subsection pages will change their web addresses too.

Moving sections

If you move sections into other sections, they will inherit folder names from any new section above them in the structure, thus changing their published web addresses.

Impact of changing established web addresses

A change to a web address can result in broken links in other pages that point to the original address, because

  • external site links use the old address
  • regular users of the page have it bookmarked under the original address
  • people have shared the original link with others on social media
  • the old address has been used in email campaigns and/or printed literature or communications that have already been sent out or are still being distributed.

Inbound links from authoritative sites have a big influence on the way search engines rank a page in search results, so it is in your interests and those of your users not to make pages harder to find by damaging their search strength when the search robots crawl broken links.

Whilst the navigation in your restructured site will change, the versions of your pages at the original locations will not necessarily be automatically removed from the server by T4, so these can potentially still be navigated to from external sites, or even from other University web pages if hard-coded links have been used. But these old pages will not be updated by T4, and will become more and more out of date, presenting further confusion to your users if they haven’t been removed and the old addresses redirected to the new ones.

Handling change effectively

In general it is best to avoid changing web addresses as much as possible. But if change is genuinely necessary and you have good reasons for it, there are things you can do to minimise the risks and retain your pages’ findability.

  • In the case of section names, you can change the name but preserve the original folder name in a page’s web address by using an Output URI in your section, if appropriate. This way the section name change won’t alter the web address. Unfortunately, you cannot do the same for Media Library categories in T4, so any changes will change document links and will require redirects.
  • Discuss any planned URL changes with your Web Marketing Officer or the central Web Team beforehand. They can advise on potential problems and ways to avoid damaging users’ ability to find your pages.
  • They can set up redirects on the web server from old addresses to new ones, which will allow existing links to the original locations to continue to take people to the right place, preserving the search engine strength of your pages.
  • If they are aware of planned site changes, they can also manually remove old pages from the web server once your new pages are published.
  • For links to other University of Exeter pages managed in T4, do get into the habit of using section links rather than hard-coding them as external links. Section links are updated automatically in T4 whenever the target section you are linking to is moved or its address changes, preventing internal links from breaking.

So, when planning such changes, be aware of the impact you can have on your web addresses, and how this affects your users’ experience of your site. It’s not that you should never make changes, as change can also improve the user experience overall, but you need to be very sure you have good reasons for altering the site structure and renaming sections, and weigh up the risks involved. You can then plan into your project some precautionary steps to reduce the impact on your site’s visitors and search engine visibility.

To refresh your understanding about section names and how T4 uses them, see the ‘Naming sections’ guide on the Web Support site.

Sarah Williams,
Web Marketing and Editorial Officer

Rethinking the Undergraduate Study website

On February 20th we launched a brand new Undergraduate (UG) Study website. This is the website that showcases our undergraduate programmes to prospective students around the world. It’s the most popular part of our site, attracting more than 6 million external pageviews each year from more than 200 countries and territories.

The new site has been designed to meet the changing demands of visitors to our website, including the use of mobile devices, which has seen a 15-fold increase over the last two years. We also met the technical challenge of incorporating rich course information from iPaMs, our emerging Integrated Programmes and Modules System.

UG Study - responsive course pages

UG Study – responsive course pages

Planning and preparation

We refresh the UG Study website every year, but for this year’s full redesign we went back to first principles and asked ourselves fundamental questions about who our prospective students are, what they want from a website and how we could best provide it.

  • We listened to prospective students who told us where the UG Study website fits into their information-seeking habits, what they want from the website and how this differs from, for example, the printed prospectus.
  • We reviewed websites across UK, US, Canadian and Australian higher education looking for inspiration and examples of best practice.
  • We looked at the sites of large charities and public bodies to help us understand how they encourage their visitors to engage with them.
  • We examined sites which supported ‘big decisions’, such as estate agents, healthcare providers and financial institutions to better understand how they helped visitors to find the right product for them.
  • We read research papers and industry reports to understand that visitors to university websites expected to find familiar user interfaces and tools from ecommerce and social websites, such as search filters, expandable panels and tabbed content.
  • We analysed our web traffic and discovered that course pages, visit day pages and application information account for almost all the traffic to the site, and that almost 20% of visits to the site were made by mobile users.

Designing and building

Based on our research we designed a new scheme for the UG Study site. We aimed to give the pages a more contemporary feel, to increase the amount of space we could use for content by introducing a horizontal navigation menu and to create a set of responsive page layouts which would dynamically adjust to the size of screen the site was being viewed on.

We developed wireframes to represent our main page types and began the ongoing process of testing with potential users of the site and improving our designs based on their feedback.

Creating a single page which will adjust to display well on different devices requires content elements such as text and images to show and hide, resize and reposition depending on the size and orientation of the screen. Responsive design adds a great deal of complexity to content planning and the team had to learn new ways not only to code the website but also to create and manage the content.

Integrating data

We knew from our research that prospective students wanted to find detailed breakdowns of the courses they were considering. To allow us to deliver this, we developed new methods to import data from the iPaMs database into our Web Content Management System. Not only did this present huge technical challenges as we pulled content for more than 300 programmes from one database into another, but with colleagues in the Colleges and the Marketing Team, it required an enormous amount of work to ensure that the data was current and accurate.

Adding search

We built a new ‘course search’ tool, developed using Funnelback, our website search engine. This allows us to index only the UG course pages and bring back results in a form which can be sorted and filtered by criteria such as course duration, location and study options.

Testing

Once the site began to take shape, we involved the whole team in testing it for content, appearance and functionality on a huge range of devices. With a site built for smartphones and tablets it’s no longer enough to look at it in the most popular browsers on a desktop PC. We conducted detailed testing on more than 20 different platforms, choosing those combinations of device and browser which were most popular amongst our users. We could have tested five times as many.

Sharing our work

We took the developing site around the University, demoing it to groups and meetings in every College and involving hundreds of staff members, incorporating their feedback and comments as we went.

Launch and beyond

The site was launched on 20 February after more than 12 months of thinking, planning, experimenting, constructing, populating, data-cleansing and testing, testing, testing, all of which was undertaken by the Web and Marketing Teams, with great support from colleagues across the Colleges and Services.

Traffic patterns in the month since the site went live are very encouraging, suggesting that users are engaging with the site more than with its predecessor.

  • We have seen a 43% increase in the number of pageviews per visit to the site
  • a 58% increase in the average visit duration and 
  • a 54% decrease in the bounce rate (i.e. the number of visitors who leave the site immediately after arriving).

Looking specifically at mobile visitors we have seen even more positive results including

  • a 77% increase in the number of pages per visit and 
  • a 142% increase in the average visit duration.

We think the new site is a big step forward. It achieves what we set out to do and, we hope, meets the needs of today’s prospective students. We will continue to learn from the users of our site and to improve it further in the weeks and months to come.

Take a look at the UG Study site and let us know what you think in comments.

Rob Mitchell
Web Editor

Sourcing images and copyright

Forum Opening Day

Forum Opening Day by Ally Brown
http://www.flickr.com/photos/allybrown/7135361371/sizes/l/in/photostream/

When sourcing images for use on our University web pages it is important to ensure that you have the relevant permissions.  It is a common misconception that if an image is readily available to copy from the web (using a search on Google Images for example) it is free to use.  Anything created and published on the internet is automatically covered by copyright law and if you fail to obtain permission to use an image you could be at risk of a fine.

Do not assume that because the web is so big and everything on it available so freely that no-one will ever find out what you are using. Copyright owners can go to great lengths to ensure that their images are traceable online.

An increasing number people are making their work available online under Creative Commons licenses. These allow creators to easily communicate which parts of copyright law they reserve and which parts they waive. The image above of the opening of the Forum taken by Ally Brown in the Web Team is available to download on Flickr.com and you can see the simple one-page Creative Commons license that Ally has set up to communicate how he is happy for the image to be used.

If no such license is obviously available then you should always obtain formal permission for any image that you wish to use.  Bear in mind that the perceived owner could be using an image illegally and it is your responsibility to make contact with the original owner. Ignorance is not justifiable grounds to avoid a fine.

After securing permission be aware of any stipulations of use, for example images available for web but not print, or any specific credit that must accompany the image. Even if the owner doesn’t insist on a credit it is always courteous to include one. When using an image in the right hand ‘www Image with Caption’ template in T4 the template includes an optional field for including a copyright acknowledgement.

More information on copyright is available on our Web support site but the golden rule is if in doubt, don’t use it.

Useful image sources

However, all is not lost!  There are some useful image sources available, some of which are free:

  • Assetbank – an extensive and growing archive containing University commissioned photography for use in promotional publications, including the University website. To request download of any images contact your Web Marketing Officer.
  • Morgue File – contains photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative and commercial projects by visitors to the site. You are asked to credit the photographer when possible but this is not required.
  • Fotolia – a huge image bank of free and affordable royalty-free photos and illustrations for web or print. Many of its images are free and others are available from £0.63p.
  • stock.xchng  – a community of professional photographers and amateur enthusiasts who offer their works for public use free of charge or at minimal cost. You need to register to use the site and download images but membership is free.
  • Get snapping!
    You can of course use images you have taken or created yourself.  Please do bear in mind whether the images are appropriate for use on the University website though.

Helen Evans,
Web Marketing Officer for the Medical School