A (work) year in review

Today is my one year anniversary at my current job. This might not sound like a big deal but with my recent job history it is something if a minor miracle🙂

Stephen Hale from DH has published a bit of a review of what has happened there since he started last August which has spurred me to write this – though I have realised quite quickly it might be a short post!

To be honest for alot of the year I seemed to be running quite quickly just to stand still. The tools and processes I inherited were, and remain, far from ideal and changing things has been considerably harder than I’d hoped – despite great support from just about everyone including very senior folk. The obstacles when they have appeared though have been nigh impossible to steer around and procurement in particular remains a constant source of frustration.

All that said though there have been positives with more on the horizon.

I was really lucky in recruiting someone great early on and she has managed to not only maintain the current website while my attention has often been elsewhere but also made significant improvements all over the site – which believe me is not easy!

I have written a Digital Strategy for the organisation, the first time digital here has been given this sort of attention and if nothing else I think I have helped raise the profile and the possibilities of our work on the web. I have gained a bit of a reputation as a ‘tree killer’ as I generated alot of paper to support the strategy! In addition to the main document I also prepared new Social Media Guidelines, a corporate Twitter policy, a policy on use of ‘third party’ web products (though this is still a rough draft) and various project plans, spreadsheets, proposals, board papers and god knows what else. Still haven’t cracked the ‘content’ or ‘digital engagement’ strategies yet either:/

We ran a Wikipedia workshop with volunteers from the Wikimedia Foundation that was a real success and are following it up with another in November in Cambridge. I have also been having early conversations about some other interesting Wikipedia based projects. The interest in Wikipedia is growing within the organisation and people are really starting to see the potential which is really pleasing.

Two sites were launched on WordPress as a bit of a trial and it went well enough that we are going to roll out a supported platform to any of our ‘family’ who are interested (as a part of this I have commissioned a custom theme and, thank god, some retained sys-admin support!)

The Annual Review microsite was a bit of a win as well which I mentioned recently. To be able to produce something that cool technically, which looked great and had truly brilliant content was fantastic.

I introduced Mailchimp to the organisation and we are about to start using that properly and also have started to use Bristol Online Surveys as a replacement for adhoc SurveyMonkey forms and the like. I also gave a couple of talks to various folk in the wider organisation about ‘digital marketing’ and in particular the importance of Google Analytics which went down ok I think. I’m currently arranging some more formal GA training for interested people as well which I am looking forward to.

The biggest let down of the year though has been my complete failure to get a new CMS project off the ground. I came close (very close) twice but both times external circumstances moved the goal posts but I am confident the third time is the charm and we are closing in on something now – though the timescales have changed dramatically.

A couple of cool projects are coming up – including one where I am going to use the Semantic MediaWiki with the forms extension which should be an interesting learning curve as well as a major IA and content rethink that promises to be challenging to say the least.

I also have an additional member of staff starting very soon who brings a whole new skillset to the team and who is going to hopefully run with the desperately underserved ‘digital engagement’ element of the website.

Actually written down that doesn’t seem too bad. Here is to year 2!!

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