In the final guest post before the official closing for bookings for IWMW 2018 Willow Colios, Leeds Trinity University looks back at last year’s IWMW event (his first) and looks forwards to this year’s event.

My IWMW 2017 Highlights

On an ordinary Wednesday morning in 2017 I got an email to the webmaster email account.

Often emails to webmaster@ are regarding long forgotten web pages which have finally dropped off into 404 heaven, but this time it was from some chap called Brian Kelly, the founder of something called IWMW, the Institutional Web Managers Workshop. An ‘annual 3-day event for UK university web and digital teams.’ And I thought, first how come I’ve never heard of this and secondly that’s definitely for me!

You know you should book for a conference when some of the titles of the talks make you laugh. You had me at “Realising the Vision of a Single Source of Course Information”. And as an REM fan “It’s The End Of The Institution As We Know It (And We Feel Fine) “as a conference title certainly sealed the deal.

But the wonderful thing about IWMW is other people have done the thing that you and your team are going to tackle in the next year, and you’ve been innovating in an area that they want to get into. So you can learn things and share things and go away enthused for the months and year ahead, and have a community to talk to about what we do.

Here are some of my IWMW 2017 highlights …

Working in Higher Education (or any sector or industry) it is easy to get siloed into your own area, to get on with day to day work in the office and forget about the wider environment that you are in and what’s really going on around you.

Whether you’ve worked in Universities for years or are new to the sector, it’s a good idea to understand what working life is like for the academics and researchers, doing the teaching and research in the rest of the institution. The talk from Chris Gutteridge at University of Southampton was as informative as it was hilarious.
[View talk summary] – [View video recording]

One of the things about IWMW is the willingness of people to share what they are doing. We all face the changing environment as content creators. Richard Prowse, at University of Bath is one of the Digital Leaders in the HE sector and gave this talk on Building a Digital Publishing Platform with an eye on what the future of web publishing is going to be.
[View talk summary] – [View video recording]

How does web and digital work within HE institutions? How do you make the case for Digital within your institution? Andrew Millar from the University of Dundee gave a great account of how they reorganised how they do web services, and talked about cultural change in his inspirational talk, Having a Good Crisis and Not Wasting It.
[View talk summary] – [View video recording]

My Must See Talks for 2018!

For this year I’m very excited to see:

  • Jane Van De Ban from Birkbeck and Headscape’s Chris Scott discuss the use of customer journey mapping (CJM) and show how this translated into the new content and web design of Birkbeck, University of London.
  • Ayala Gordon talking about running user needs workshops and all the other elements of a user needs based content strategy as part of the digital transformation process at The University of Southampton.
  • And finally, I do like CRM and its interactions with web, communications and giving great customer service. So, I won’t be missing Megan McFarlane and Mike McConnell from University of Aberdeen talking about Student Recruitment Enquiries in CRM.

Modern Higher Education has somehow become a more and more competitive market. But that isn’t the dominant force behind IWMW. We’re all friends, navigating a changing environment, and IWMW is our space to talk, to share, and to inspire each other. I look forward to learning, growing and to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones at IWMW 2018.

Biographical Details

Based in the Marketing Department at Leeds Trinity University, Willow Colios leads the Digital Team, working on the University’s website and digital marketing. He also sits on the University’s Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team.

Having studied Philosophy and Politics at the University of Liverpool, Willow began his career working for a Labour MP, before working at digital agencies in Reading and London. He then moved into Higher Education, first as Digital Manager at Reading University Students’ Union and now Leeds Trinity University.

Willow attended his first IWMW event last year and has booked a place for this year’s event – and this time will be bringing along a colleague.