Intranets, staff, students: A Web Transformation Project update

The project to transform Macquarie University’s website for the benefit of all users has gathered pace in recent months.

The project team, led by Macquarie’s Rich Powell, has been working with technology partner Squiz to begin interviewing website users, test wireframes, and review the various web governance models employed at other universities.

Readers will recall that the project will deliver three main web presences. The public site will go live in August 2015, while the staff and student sites will go live in early 2016. Having a website dedicated to students and another dedicated to staff allows their needs to be met without compromise. This also allows the public-facing website to focus specifically on external audiences.

Powell says while the staff and student sites will use log-ins in order to view secure pieces of information or areas of the site, they won’t be ‘intranets’ in the traditional sense.

“Parts of the staff and student sites that aren’t sensitive won’t require a log-in, and anyone will be able to access them,” he explains. “If the staff member or student moves to a secure part of the site they’ll be asked to log-in, and then will be able to continue on their way.

“This is much more convenient for users, as we’ll be able to organise all the content of interest to them together, rather than having an ‘open’ site and a closed intranet located separately.”

Staff will be able to locate all parts of the site even when they’re off campus, and there will be a greater focus on personalising the web experience depending upon the type of user you are.

“Personalisation of websites can mean lots of different things to different people,” says Powell. “We won’t be providing everyone with a blank canvas to configure their own experience – industry research shows that less than 10 per cent of people will use the capability.

“Instead, we intend to use personalisation to customise the website for the needs of different groups of users, for example, an HDR student has significantly different needs to a coursework student, let alone a first-year law student. We aim to identify the type of person when they log-in, and tailor their experience to be more relevant.

“We’ll research the needs of different cohorts of students and staff, so we can personalise their experience accordingly.”

For more information on the Web Transformation Project, visit their blog.