About This Post

This blog post is the first in a series of posts which will reflect on the IWMW 2017 event which was held at the university of Kent on 11-13 July 2017. Today’s (long) post provides a review of the comments made on the event in its entirety.

IWMW 2016 Event Evaluation

Numerical Ratings

Based on the feedback received on the IWMW 2017 evaluation forms, it seems that 55% of the respondents rated the content of the event as excellent, 43% rated it as very good, 2% as good and 0% as poor or very poor, an average rating of 4.52. The rating for the event organisation was even more impressive with 74% rating the organisation as excellent and 26% rating it as very good, giving an average rating of 4.72. This seems to confirm the suspicion that the event was the best ever – and this is confirmed by looking at the evaluation scores since IWMW 2014, when the event was reborn following the cessation of JISC’s funding for UKOLN:

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017
Content 4.39 4.49 4.43 4.52
Organisation 4.70 4.31 4.53 4.74
Evaluation [link] [link] [link] [link]

Perhaps this continual improvement should not surprise us: the event has benefitted from the experiences gained since 2014 in organising a large event without the support of former colleagues at UKOLN. In addition this year’s event has benefitted from the support of the Advisory Group and, in particular, Claire Gibbon’s work as co-chair of the event.

Comments from IWMW 2017 Participants

We asked delegates to give general comments on the content of the event. The comments we received included:

  • Good range of speakers. Would have liked a few more things about content
  • Broad range of content but slightly light on design-related topics.
  • Really good mix of workshop and speakers.
  • The content was excellent this year, very polished presenters
  • It was very much focussed on the big picture this year (governance) than in previous years where content was looking at different levels.
  • Really enjoyed the talks and workshops. They were all of a very high standard.
  • Was one of the best for me as the content of the talks was relevant, interesting and stimulating
  • Consistently great in content and social events from beginning to end
  • Content was broad but focused and well arranged in the itinerary
  • All of it was engaging and there was plenty to learn
  • Excellent. Every session had some relevance to my situation, and each institution was on a different point of the improvement journey.
  • Honest stories are the strength of the event. Sharing openly approaches taken and the results from them.
  • I thought that in the majority the talks were excellent. Not all of them were appropriate to me but I would expect that at any event like this. I particularly enjoyed Piero Tinotori’s talk as it was great to hear someone talk about the reason we’re all really here – to convert students, improve funding etc.
  • I found the content of the event to be really interesting and particularly relevant for what is happening in the sector. For me personally it was good as it wasn’t too techy with a lot of the focus on content
  • Seemed to be pitched about right. Good balance between wider strategic view and hands on with opportunity to be more operational in workshops and master classes.

We asked delegates for comments on the event organisation. The comments we received included:

  • Really well organised event enjoyed the formal dinner and informal BBQ. Thank you for all your hard work. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with peers and was facilitated to do just this.
  • Very easy to be a part of, which means it was pretty well organised, without being so slick to the point of feeling corporate 🙂
    Impeccable as always!!!
  • Everything seemed to run pretty smoothly.
  • Power to the quizzes! The venue was really good, nice accommodation and food and all that was needed was there
  • Very well organised – venue was excellent and good, varied networking and social opportunities
  • Really good – clear schedule, easy to know what was on when and communications really good
  • Can’t fault it to be honest. Really affordable which counts for a lot and by far the best ‘ROI’ (based on my initial plans following the conference) of any conference I have been to in the last few years.
  • I think the event is very well organised, and also that it’s great value for money. This makes it really accessible to us as an organisation. I had everything I needed before I attended to enable me to get there and check in etc without any issues.
  • Really good. A good mixture of social and business and loads of time to actually chat to other delegates.
  • Brilliant- what a committee!
  • Completely marvellous!

We asked delegates to give up to 3 examples of the key highlights of the event or ways in which it has been beneficial to them. The comments we received included:

  • Networking, best practice, collaboration
  • Networking, speaking to suppliers, discussion of UX
  • Networking, sharing horror stories, and sharing practice
  • 1) Excellent speakers with practical advice I can use (2) Mix of friendly attendees from wide range of institutions and areas of work (3) Travelling to new location and seeing a very nice campus
  • Paul Boag’s inspirational talk, the insight into student digital content from Tom Wright, the meeting of minds at the social events
  • Good to see what other universities are doing. Helpful to discuss key issues with colleagues.
  • Able to compare with, and learn from , other people in the same stage of development as we are, and both beyond us and behind us. Opportunity to reflect on what matters away from the day to day detail.
  • Fed into ongoing discussions in our team. I got a couple of concrete ideas out of it, things that I can do in my next user testing sessions. Understanding the trends in HE digital, such as moving beyond CMS.
  • Workshop with St Andrews on pattern libraries – really informative and very relevant to the work I am doing. Oxford Mosaic – again very relevant to the work I am doing and useful to see how they deal with multiple sites. Paul Boag just for sharing the research he’s done.
  • Inspirational speakers (shout outs in particular to P2, P3, P5 and (begrudgingly) P12). The dinner and the barbecue were great opportunities for networking and making new connections.
  • 1) I had the opportunity to talk and run a workshop that was quite popular. 2) Paul Boag… you cannot go better than that! 3) Networking: I have met new colleagues from various institutions with which I am already in touch for sharing information and experiences.
  • 1. Seeing and discussing what other people are doing really helps motivate. We can change things and make the web better! The talks on day 2 were all excellent for this. 2. Enjoyed the motivational talks on day 3. Really great to see how important it is to understand your users. 3. The master class I went to on day 2 (Agile Content) was well organised and fun.
  • The event was enormously helpful to me in a number of ways. Firstly, it showed that every web professional is facing very similar challenges and problems to me. Secondly, it provided some great strategies for dealing with those challenges. Thirdly, it provided opportunity to meet and speak to folk who are in the same field (and who are lots of fun!).
  • As always, it reminded me that we’re all in pretty much the same boat and that, with focus and determination, we can make it work. Organised fun. It really helps! 🙂 Hearing a mix of peers and externals – Andrew Millar was fab, Carley’s approach interesting, Paul Boag’s always good value for money, etc.
  • The presentation from Carley was a real highlight as this, plus a chat with Carley, has helped cement my plans for the way forward with my team and ‘digital’ at Derby. I was particularly interested in the approach to Agile and the DPL. Networking with others in the sector, particularly speaking with those in comparable roles, was definitely a particular highlight. It would be great to be able to find out the attendee list (with titles and biographies of responsibility) in advance of the event.
  • 1. Building a network of contacts at other institutions to allow us to share best practice and work together to find solutions to common problems has been invaluable. 2. Key takeaways from some of the talks have given me real actions to implement within my team to improve our processes. 3. Meeting more of the genuinely lovely people who work in HE digital. I had such a great time chatting to and getting to know people on a personal basis.
  • 1. Working in Agile Way Masterclass – really good workshop. Really well put together and useful exercises. 2. General networking opportunities/social activities – I found it really useful to have time to chat to people from other Universities and share experiences and find out what they are getting up to. 3. Andrew Millar/Carley Hollis/Chris Gutteridge talks – hard to pick one out of these three talks. All really interesting for different reasons.
  • Building relationships with people so that when I need to ask cheeky questions about how they’ve done something they usually are very helpful and forthcoming. Also, sharing enthusiasm for things we’ve done.
  • Hearing about best practice, e.g. Governance. Networking – meeting new people and sharing ideas, experiences and thoughts. Learning – hearing new things that I’ve not come across before.

We asked delegates to provide up to 3 examples of ways in which the event could be improved. The responses we received included:

  • Fewer plenary sessions. More discussion/round-table events. Better workshops.
  • Earlier ability to book would help with budget management (by April things are often getting tight). Noting how many people leave before the end on the last day, might be worth rethinking how the conference ends, perhaps with some ‘optional’ events at that stage.
  • Shorten the middle day and add an hour to the other two?
  • maybe less talks and more break out sessions, more interactive that way
  • More detailed information on the workshops and masterclasses in advance might help lead to better decision making.
  • 1) A programme that looks at lower level of the organisations as well as the top end. 2) Plenaries that are linked to Master Classes so people can decide to change their mind and attend a different one if they are enthusiastic about the speaker during the plenary. 3) I cannot thing of a third one because IWMW is an excellent conference in every aspect.
  • 1. Poster sessions? I know many conferences run poster sessions for content that isn’t heavyweight enough for a 30-minute talk, but still merits a kind of quick show-and-tell + feedback to people wandering around. 2. I heard from colleagues that some of the master classes were a bit vague or perhaps not well planned time-wise. Could there be more guidelines for people giving masterclasses and workshops? 3. Thought the final panel session was a bit weird. Do we need this in future?
  • I think the masterclass format could be tweaked. More community of practice?
  • More workshops where you get the chance to work with others. More, and more formal networking opportunities which don’t involve pub quizzes, etc.
  • This is potentially more a comment that reflects my approach to networking, but for first time attendees it was initially a bit of a challenge to get stuck in with the groups who clearly had previously attended and knew each other. But following the two nights ‘refreshments’ this wasn’t much of an issue. Potentially an opportunity to bring together those who work in similar regions? The teams in Scotland have got their Scottish Web Folk meets but it would be good to explore appetite for others. As highlighted above, ways to coordinate the networking of those in similar roles would be great.
  • I’d like to see some more talks in the future around the marketing side of digital in HE – for example how we can improve our web presence to assist with acquisition/conversion of new students. The HE landscape is changing, it’s a much more competitive industry and across the board applications are down – how can we address this through what we do as digital teams?
  • I would prefer shorter sessions – perhaps 20 – 30 minutes
  • Drinks reception instead of barbecue on 2nd night – easier to mingle when people are standing – but organise a few people to ‘invite’ newbies/stragglers to where they’re going for dinner. Maybe a channel on Slack indicating where going eg chinese, pub grub, italian, etc. and people could organise around that(?)
  • I would like to see a little more in the way of soft-skills and management-type sessions, as I have found those to be exceptionally helpful. I also really liked, and think more could be made of the “ice-breakers” to encourage networking. Finally, I’ve noticed on the last two occasions that the last sessions tend to close late, which can be a problem if one has already booked transport. I wonder if the timetable should perhaps include an extra 15-30 minutes for closing remarks and prize-giving?

We also invited delegates to provide any additional comments. These included:

  • Well done to Brian and Claire for another brilliant conference.
  • Really enjoyed yet again. Venue felt a tad cramped compared to John Moores. Good turnout from unis and vendors. Nice being on campus with people. Nice having a bar at the venue
  • The key strength of the event is in bringing together colleagues to share ideas, experiences, stories and discussions.
  • Excellent event – best I’ve been too. Thanks for inviting me to be part of it.
  • Well done, very well executed this year.
  • IWMW is great. Keep it going!
    Another great conference. All that consultancy and development for £400, how do you do it?
  • Lovely venue, beautiful campus
  • Thank you very much for what was a thoroughly useful and enjoyable event!
  • I enjoyed it and really pleased that my colleague insisted I go. If I could the whole team, then I would. The food was amazing by the way.
  • Great! So glad I got the opportunity to attend, and I’m also very glad that succession planning (i.e. involving a co-chair) is taking place.
  • Great job everyone concerned, especially Brian and Claire. See you next year hopefully!
  • Really nice to feel part of a wider community and there’s definitely a feeling of heritage to the event (happy 21!)
  • Great conference, well done to all involved. Wish I could send my whole team!
  • I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this event. As a first timer it was really good and I found all the people I met to be incredibly enthusiastic even though the sector is hitting hard times.

We also invited delegates to provide a testimonial which we could use to promote future IWMW events. The testimonials we received include:

  • If you are going to go to one conference in the year then it better be IWMW
  • There’s no other conference where we can get together as a sector, and as friends, to swap ideas and stories and then come away again feeling energised for the task ahead of us!
  • The IWMW conference provided a great opportunity to hear from, learn and network with other institutions in and around the higher education sector.
  • A lot of insights and great to hear authentic stories from other institutions. Really glad I attended.
  • Attending my first IWMW conference in 2017 was a great experience for me. It was a great opportunity to build a valuable network of contacts at other institutions to allow us to share best practice and work together to find solutions to common problems. Key takeaways from the talks have given me real actions to implement within my team to improve our processes. Finally, meeting more of the genuinely lovely people who work in HE digital was really rewarding. I had such a great time chatting to and getting to know people on a personal basis.
  • This was an excellent event and I learned a great deal from not only the talks, but from the IWMW family!
  • This is the second IWMW conference I have attended, and once again I found it very valuable. To me, getting to understand the shared pains that higher education institutions are going through and to see how different institutions have approached these has enabled me to suggest and encourage improvements at my own institution. I would recommend IWMW to anyone working in HE web management.

Many thanks to IWMW 2017 delegates for their feedback!