And with that awful pun I launch into my last blog post of the year...

I'll start by outlining an addition to our course lists, which are now all alphabetically sorted. For a while now we've made do with these displaying as a long list which, although being dynamically updated from our course database, were pretty static with no anchor points. This is why we undertook a bit of work to make them more accessible and to include a little alphabet picker at the top. Job done and much more user friendly! We're also planning on rolling this out to our other asset lists in the near future.

New staff training opportunities
coming soon!
Other things the team have been working on of late are content updates to our Student Life, Alumni and Partnerships sections and delivering the first of many Writing for the Web training session. The latter is something which will offered to all staff in the new year - meaning that we hope for the quality of writing on our site to improve tenfold. My favourite quote from the first session has to be "This is WRITING for the web, not copying and pasting..."

Yesterday afternoon I attended the unofficial Squiz/Funnelback user group at City University. This was a great opportunity to talk to our equivalents at other universities (and beyond) who work with Matrix on a daily basis.

This is about as classy as
our decorations get
Lots of great ideas were shared and I particularly liked the demo of Trello, a fantastic free project organisation tool. We're already setting it up with the idea that this is now the go to place for all web projects and progress monitoring. We also used the meeting to talk about how we found the upgrade to Matrix version 14.8 which is something we're in the middle of having implemented right now!

In other news, it's been a week full of getting into the Christmas spirit. From spending all of the swear box money accumulated through the year on decorations from the 99p Stores (we have a LOT!), to going out for a festive pizza with the team. We also exchanged our Secret Santa presents, took part in national Christmas jumper day and 'Christmas-ified' our intranet to coincide with the launch of our digital Christmas card.

Looking back on 2013 (my first full year in the job) it's been a pretty intense but rewarding time. We've seen some team members come and go (the former mainly due to me as I've been on nine interview panels this year!) and also have had more than our fare share of accolades in the form of external awards (two golds, three silvers and five ceremonies) which have been tremendous fun. I've also learnt lots and loved the opportunity to work on the first University cinema advert which seems to have been a great success. On a personal level it's also been great as I've welcomed my third child and have started studying for a diploma (having just submitted my first assignment...)

So what do we have planned for 2014? Definitely loads of revamped website sections and we've been gearing up for these in the last month by undertaking a variety of audits. We're also working on stage two of our events calendar and are in the process of a complete homepage redesign.

I hope you all have a brilliant Christmas and new year break. My final task for 2013 is to get my 'to do' list down to double figures...

Merry Christmas from the University of Bedfordshire Digital Marketing team!

A badly Photoshopped montage of the team. I've excluded myself as there's enough
photos of me on here already!
In our team it's easy to focus on keeping the website ticking over, supporting our editors and monitoring the progress of our campaigns. This can leave little time to focus on new developments, which of course, is the fun part! Everyone loves a new toy (especially at this time of year) so we've recently set aside some time to look at some new solutions which will help us more easily monitor and communicate our vast amount of public content.

Our new social dashboard with live
updates being published to the site
every twenty minutes
The first thing we've just gone live with is our new Social Dashboard. This basically combines all of our social profiles (our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts and blogs) and presents them in one regularly updated place. After some extensive research (and lots of free trials) we decided on the paid service Tint. This did everything we wanted and had the benefit of being easily customisable and responsive with some great analytics functionality.

We were also very impressed with the level of customer service we received with Tim (at Tint!) being particularly helpful and supportive of our cause. Now we're up and running we're looking for a way to further promote it on our homepage, make evidence based tweaks to the presentation and also roll out more specific 'Tints' - e.g. by creating one just for our student blogs.

We've now also gone live with with our new Belong at Bedfordshire CRM. This means that we've added all of our enquirer data and they should have received emails from us encouraging them to sign up. The benefits for them at the moment will be content (videos, blogs, subject guides and key dates) which will be tailored to their interests. The plan is that we can now communicate with them much more easily and give a great user experience to them before they even come here!

Another big development is around our brand and social monitoring. Thanks to some amazing work by Ranjit at Statistics Into Decisions we're now getting live updates of wherever we're mentioned the very second it goes online. This is from anywhere on the internet from news sites to Blogs to people's personal Facebook pages. We can then engage with them or add Google adverts to articles which mention us - it's true real time marketing! This has been a lot of work to refine and block out some of the noise around our brand (a lot of which we create) and is a bespoke fusion of two big media monitoring tools. We've already picked up some brilliant content which would have gone unnoticed otherwise and have Tweeted it out immediately!

In other news Graeme also attended the opening of our new crime scene investigation rooms with TV presenter Nick Ross and filmed the below video for our news stories:

Lauren has also been busy working with other departments to completely revamp their web sections and has this week launched both new Open Days and Part Time sections. It's been a lot of work to bring them up to speed and decide on which content to move, delete or create. Obviously, this is still a work in progress but a website's never finished right?!
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