Choose your tab!
Those of you who have visited our website will have noticed that there is quite a big emphasis on search. Not only do we have the normal site search but also a filterable course finder which allows users to really zone in on what they are looking for.

Our search is run by Funnelback, a really powerful tool which allows us control over pretty much any aspect we want. Therefore, we felt it was time to use this to the maximum completely revamp our main search. Previously it returned results in a logical order, prioritised courses and also suggested any related search results. However, we've now taken it to the next level!

After some pretty lengthy development work we have now introduced a filterable search option whereby all results are cartegorised in different tabs with the amount of results displayed. The user can then hone in on exactly the type of results they were looking for (e.g. courses). This should mean no more of that scrolling through reams of text to find the specific query you want. That's it for the content of our site but we've also gone one step further...

Searching our YouTube video collection
definitely highlights the importance of
correctly tagging up our content
If you run a search now, you'll also notice that one of the tabs relates to video and this is the really exciting part... We host all of our video content on our YouTube channel and now these can also be searched directly from our site! As we are constantly updating with new videos this is a great way of feeding our rich media content into the site, and the presentation is such that it looks seamless. it also gives all of the vital information (thumbnail, duration, description and date added) so you're not just left with a title and a URL.

We're really happy with the work the team at Funnelback have done to get this up and running (thanks Sonia and Daniel) and the icing on the cake is how brilliantly it also works as part of our responsive design.

This project has definitely got us thinking about the other rich media solutions we can plug into our site search... Instagram anyone?!
Awards season begins! After a busy week finally locking the edit of our new corporate film, Hannah and I headed up to Bristol for the CIPR Local Public Services Awards. Joining us were Sarah, Lauren and Caroline representing the Postgraduate Marketing team. We were short listed in the 'Digital Excellence' category whilst they were hoping to bag the 'PR on a shoestring' trophy.

We set off from Luton at lunchtime for our trek out west, making sure that we stuck to the timings dictated by our pre-booked train tickets. It soon became apparent that wheelie suitcases were not a good idea through London (handle down, steps, handle up, steps...) but we arrived in good time nonetheless and headed to our rooms to get ready. The walk to the venue was only about 200 yards and I was very glad to be wearing comfortable shoes (unlike the girls) as again, the steps (and cobbled streets) were their worst enemy!

The venue was the absolutely brilliant 'At-Bristol'. A Science Museum definitely worth checking out, and we particularly enjoyed the interactive exhibits. My personal fave was one which measured the height of your jump from standing and played it back in slow motion. For some reason no-one else wanted a go...?!

We then headed upstairs for a lovely three course meal, some great conversation and, of course, plenty of wine. At around 9.30pm it was time for the awards to begin with our categories up fourth and sixth...

There were around six short listed entries for each category, with the runners up getting 'Highly Commended' and an overall winner. Our category came around before we knew it and being the only university there we felt the pressure on us immediately. Our entry had focussed on all of the work which we had done during Clearing in 2012 to help recruit to target, which was no mean feat in the current climate. After reading out all six nominees then came the announcement: "The University of Bedfordshire: Highly Commended!" - which to me is the same as silver... ;) Both Hannah and I were really pleased as between us this is the third silver award we've won in as many years (and still leaves us hungry to get that elusive gold award...)

Of our campaign they said:
"The university needed to recruit students and online is cost effective. The strategy was heavily focussed on search and social channels. The light-footedness of this campaign made it stand out. Day by day evaluation of metrics enabling modification was a clear indication of the benefits of new media. Clear and measurable objectives were set, assessed and achieved. The campaign added real value to student experiences as well as meeting the university’s objectives".

The big success story of the night though was our very own Postgraduate Marketing Team, who swept the board to beat their four competitors and WIN for 'PR on a shoestring!' A truly amazing effort ladies! This was totally deserved and was for their Postgraduate Life E-Zine of which the judges said: 'the objectives were strong and the evaluation showed they were more than met'.

(Left to right) Caroline Jacobi, Sarah Hampton, Paul Fryer,
Hannah Park, Lauren Hague

So there you have it, all in all a great night and we all came away from Bristol with something to show for it - two certificates and a trophy for the University of Bedfordshire! It's really great for all five of us to be formally recognised for the work we do and just getting short listed was an achievement. We were also happy that the three hour train journey was worth it, as it was a bit more heavy going on the way home :-& Now bring on the CIM Awards at the Grosvenor on 6th March...
It's upgrade time here at the University of Bedfordshire! This week we'll be upgrading both Matrix and Funnelback to the latest versions on our servers. This will give us lots of new features to experiment with and also should make all of our sites run a bit faster.

While this takes place we'll need to have a short content freeze which we've been communicating to staff for the last few weeks. We're also using this opportunity to make one particularly significant upgrade to our system - Edit+!

Currently, we have an excellent editing platform for staff to amend their own pages (Easy Edit Suite) but we're going to be one of the first of Squiz's clients to upgrade to the latest version and make web editing even easier for our staff! Some of these new features will include:
  • A much simpler way to add images and link to pages
  • No need to run an HTML clean up when copying text from Microsoft Word
  • editing can now be done on tablet devices (e.g. ipad)
  • Much more sophisticated table creating and editing tools
In the Digital Marketing Team we are constantly striving to offer as good a service as possible. So, for the past week, we've been running demo sessions to staff and the feedback has been great! Hopefully, all this will mean a much more efficient product for us to support as well as greatly improved webpages.

We'll also be making use of the brilliant Accessibility Auditor which detects any issues on the page (relevant to WCAG 2.0 A, AA, or AAA standards), the exact location of each detected issue, advice for how to correct it and even automatic correction of the content. This will give our editors the ability to help us achieve a compliant and accessible website.

So, exciting times and another example of us trying our best to keep up with the latest developments and engage our users. According to our account manager at Squiz they have our work order for this framed as the first client to roll this out on a large scale!
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