About This Guest Post

A number of guest posts are being published on the IWMW blog from those involved with the IWMW 2017 event. Today’s post is by Alberto Guglielmi of the University of Birmingham. Alberto is facilitating a workshop session on “User Testing – A Toolkit” at the IWMW 2017 event. In this post Alberto describes how he came to submit a proposal to the event.

How I Got Here

When Brian asked me to write a blog post about my session at IWMW 2017 on user testing, I was a little worried because I didn’t want to give away too much about the session but was struggling to put together some content that was describing the session without going into too many details.

Then I thought that what is really important to say about my session is how I came to propose that session for IWMW 2017 in the first place.

I firstly encountered IWMW in 2014 when a member of my team at the University of Birmingham attended the conference in Newcastle. I was then promised I could attend the 2015 conference.

When I arrived at Edge Hill University for IWMW 2015 I didn’t know what to expect. I knew what I wanted out of that conference; I was interested in Agile and having a better practical understanding on how to work in an Agile environment.  This expectation was met thanks to Rich Prowse and his team. But what really surprised me was the sense of community that IWMW had. I met several web professionals from different institutions, and for three days I shared ideas, thoughts, and certainly some concerns.

I returned back to my work after attending the conference infused with positivity and new ideas, some of which I was able to apply to my day-to-day job. When in March 2016 I started planning to introduce user testing to improve the content of the University of Birmingham’s College of Arts and Law websites, I managed to link my project with the IWMW 2016 event that included two sessions on user testing delivered by Neil Allison, University of Edinburgh. As it happened the year before, being immerse in the IWMW community gave me positivity and enthusiasm, that are the trademark of the conference, but I also returned back to my work with useful practical information on how to set up user testing and use them to enhance the websites’ content.

One year on and I have run five user testing sessions, interviewed 20 students, set up five debriefing sessions with academic and professional services staff, found 49 issues with the website, and solved most of them. It is now time for me to share what I have done and to pass on what I have learnt to that very community that has been essential for me to be able to run this project.

During IWMW 2016, a colleague teased me saying: “Next year you should speak at IWMW”. I am pleased to say that I proved them right: my proposal for a workshop was accepted back in March and in a couple of weeks I will be delivering a, I hope, very interactive workshop on how everyone can set up user testing in their institution. I hope to see you there!


Alberto Guglielmi works as a Web Editor at the University of Birmingham and more specifically for the College of Arts and Law that he joined in 2012. Here he is responsible for the digital presence of several departments and schools. In his ‘spare’ working time he tries to innovate following the pioneering spirit of the University.

In 2016 he successfully submitted a proposal to start a pilot project on user testing to make the content of the College of Arts and Law websites more accessible and easy to use for real user. The project started in the autumn 2016 and runs until the summer 2017. The pilot project has already produced positive changes both in improving the quality of web content and in changing stakeholders’ perspective on how real users browse the University website.