New project management web pages

We’ve recently launched a set of web pages to help staff lead projects at York. This was a collaborative effort working with the University’s central Project Management Office.

The new Project management resources web pages provide guidance on the standard project life cycle at York, from concept through to handover and close. The pages are published in the main staff section of the University website to maximise visibility and discoverability of the information.

Audience and aims

The pages are for:

  • seasoned project managers who do this as their day job
  • leaders and managers who are running projects and might be less familiar with project management. 

The purpose of the resources are to:

  • offer a central repository for project management resources and templates
  • help guide staff through the process of managing a change or project.

Job stories

It was tricky figuring out how to structure these new project management resources alongside the change management pages in the same section.

Both sets of resources are based on three main phases of change (plan, implement and embed). We needed to think about how the user journeys intersected and where the project life cycle phases would fit in.

We worked with our Project Management Office stakeholders to write something called job stories for the resources. These helped ensure we were on the same page about who and what the resources are for. They helped us understand how best to present content. They also helped clarify the stakeholders’ thinking.

Here are a couple of examples:

When a leader asks me how long the project will take…

  • I want to know the processes and resources I can use to work this out.
  • So I can provide them with a project schedule, including key milestones. 

When I am working on project or change

  • I want to access trusted and tested approaches.
  • So that I know we are working to recommended practice.

Website structure

We considered merging the new resources within the phases of change pages. But after creating the job stories, it was clear we needed a distinct section to help guide staff on project management specifically. The information has crossovers but different user needs.

  • The change management resources support leaders with behavioural and softer skills around supporting teams through change. 
  • The project management resources provide methodologies and document templates for running a project or change. 

We also renamed the parent section ‘Project and change management’ to improve clarity. It was originally called ‘Making change happen’, which is now the strapline instead.


Cheryl, our main stakeholder in the Project Management Office, had compiled the resources in a slide deck and a spreadsheet with all the document templates. This was repurposed into a set of web pages. These include:

A main introduction page, with an overview of project types and definitions, eg small projects, large projects and business as usual (BAU).
A page about the project life cycle, including a filterable table with all the templates in one place.
Pages for each project phase, eg the concept stage with step-by-step guidance and templates.
A page for the IT project life cycle, which has a slightly different set of phases and templates.

Finally, we had some beautiful graphics designed by our Creative team to bring the pages to life. 

Take a look for yourself: project management web pages.

Campus web pages refresh

I recently wrapped up a great project rebuilding our web pages about campus. This job was a joy to do because it allowed me to focus on many different forms of content – video and imagery proved just as important as copy to show (rather than tell) what our campus has to offer.

Why a refresh?

The campus section is a high-traffic section, with the campus landing page racking up over 11,000 annual page views. However, most pages were using our older Classic templates and the content and imagery was out of date. Some content was also duplicated elsewhere on the website and many of the pages hadn’t been updated in recent years.

A much needed refresh was in order to better ‘sell’ York’s beautiful green campus.

Purpose, audience and streamlining

Mixed audience groups for these pages proved an exciting challenge. The users for these pages included prospective students, members of the public, and our community of current staff and students.

The purpose of the pages is to provide a high-level overview of what campus has to offer, covering amenities through to wildlife and art. We reviewed the pages and usage data and decided we could streamline the section from 30 pages to 24.

Celebrating our campus with visual content

We’ve got a treasure trove of beautiful visual content of our green, open campus. The use of video and imagery was key to creating engaging pages that worked hard to show what campus has to offer.

I created a hero video for the landing page using both drone footage and close-up video clips to highlight different aspects of campus – lakes, wildlife, greenery and our iconic brutalist buildings.

The landing page hero video

A ‘campus photo highlights’ section on the landing page shows off a number of key landmarks and places to see on campus, such as Isaac Newton’s apple tree, growing in a courtyard garden within the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology, and the Quiet Place, an area of stillness and quiet in the grounds of Heslington Hall.

Working with stakeholders

As with any content project, I didn’t do it alone. I worked with stakeholders in the Directorate of Technology, Estates and Facilities (DTEF) and Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Outreach (MRAO) to make sure the content was accurate and on message.

Tidying up

To help keep our campus pages fresh and up to date, I’ve created a quality assurance and content governance model – on the University wiki (staff only) outlining how the pages would be kept up-to-date and by whom.

Check out the refreshed campus section!

Fresh new look for IT Services’ web pages

In this major revamp, we’re making IT Services’ web pages easier to use. As well as being some of our most popular sets of internal pages, they’re also super complex. We’ve gone back to the drawing board to investigate what users really want.

This is my first time posting on this blog so I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Harriet 👋. I’m part of the Content Design Team in Communications. As a web content developer, it’s my job to design and transform online content. I started at the University last year specifically to work on rebuilding the IT Services web pages. I’m leading this highly collaborative project, working alongside the IT Services team and others to plan and deliver an improved experience.

What’s it all about?

Every single member of York uses IT services. From email to wifi, there are hundreds of tools and systems enabling us to work, study and research. For every one of those, there’s usually at least a web page or two. And as you might expect from a technical service, there’s also a lot of guidance, such as how to access a system or how to troubleshoot issues with it.

Across the IT Services section alone, we’re talking over 600 pages of content. But that’s not all. We discovered more IT content across three other sections of the University website. Plus, beyond our Web CMS, we found IT-related content over eight other web platforms such as Salesforce, Google Sites and LibGuides. Before anything else, we needed to scrutinise what categories of content should be published where and why. This helps us be consistent about what we publish and where, and decide what should stay and what should go. After that, it was time to map the rebuild for the CMS side of things.

The IT Services section of the website is home to some of our most viewed internal-facing pages, receiving over 1 million views a year. Despite its popularity, years of growth were taking a toll. The bloated content was hard to navigate and maintain, and the older ‘Classic’ templates looked tired. To help staff and students find the services and support they need, we had to change that. Cue the content strategy!

Content strategy toolkit

Planning doesn't always mean staring at screens - one of our favourite ways to trigger ideas is to run collaborative workshops with plenty of sticky notes.

Here in the Content Design Team, we love to plan. It can feel a little daunting but a good plan is vital for mapping out changes, juggling priorities and keeping track of what’s important. Here are some of the tools and techniques which helped us get from planning content to publishing it:

  • Content audit – a listing of all web pages in scope. We used it to assess content quality, measure analytics performance, and plan next steps.
  • Competitor analysis – we reviewed 13 competitors and industry leaders to spot trends and best practices.
  • Stakeholder interviews – we met with 20 colleagues in IT Services to understand departmental needs first-hand.
  • Steering group – we scheduled a regular catch-up with key stakeholders every three weeks. This proximity helped resolve queries, set actions and move the project along.
  • Content mapping – we led a workshop with stakeholders to understand content categories, where each should be published and why. 
  • User research studies – we undertook user testing of our pages and competitors, using heat mapping tools and tree testing to test our new navigation menu and labels. The findings helped us plan effortless, logical designs.
  • Site structure mapping – we used a mind mapping tool to plan the new site hierarchy and review content relationships.
  • Focus days – we scheduled whole days for content planning, giving us dedicated time for deep focus and collaboration.
  • Feedback rounds – once drafted, stakeholders and web specialists vetted the content over several feedback rounds. They checked for accuracy and helped finesse the content.
  • Governance plan – to help maintain content, we’ve confirmed information providers and approvers (IPAs) for every branch section and we’ve documented the process for requesting edits. To learn more, see the governance plan (staff only).

Putting plans into action

Because this is a complicated project with lots to unpick, we’re rolling out the changes in phases. The first of which went live in February. Here’s a rundown of the five big wins to give you a flavour of all things new and shiny so far 🤩.

1. Simple navigation

  • Reduced the navigation menu from 21 items to just seven to help make information easier to find.
  • New labels separate the key strands of IT Services’ content. They avoid overlap between the sections, helping everyone to take confident next steps. 
  • Bookmarked the start and end of the navigation menu with the most important sections: ‘Guides and help’ and ‘Contact us’. These both lead to self-service guidance and how to get support, which are core user needs.

2. Revamped landing pages


The old landing page had several sections of content spanning several columns and different heights. The page was hard to scan read because of it's mix of layout styling.


The new landing page is separated into clear sections which allow the content to breath. All headings are labelled simply for easier scan-reading. Colourful, modern and relevant imagery also add interest.
  • Redesigned three key entry points into IT Services content. The content is more visually engaging and laid out in order of hierarchical importance. The pages include the IT Services landing page, student landing page and staff landing page.
  • Rebuilt all phase one pages using the Digital Pattern Library web templates. 
  • Added sleek and vibrant graphics, designed by our in-house Creative team. 

3. Clearer user journeys

Supported by the simplified navigation, we’ve built two new signposting pages. These work by chunking the content into themes and making the site easier to navigate. On them, you’ll find collections of popular and important content.

  • In Guides and help, you can find solutions to the most common queries, regardless of whether they are published on the CMS or another platform.
  • In Tools, software and services, you can find digital tools and support to enhance your work, study and research. We’ve also implemented a searchable table, so you can quickly find what you need, rather than scrolling through a very long list.

You’ll also find signposts at the end of most of the newly launched pages, which lead to related content.

4. Simple contact information

IT queries can often be time-sensitive and therefore stressful. Think log-in issues or misbehaving technology amidst a looming deadline. Being able to contact IT Services is crucial. 

In our content audit, we discovered multiple web pages with contact information. Each of them slightly different. To make it clear and simple, we needed to streamline and tackle the redundant information. 

  • Instead of duplicating the content across various pages, content now links to the contact page. Having one source of truth makes it much easier to update and helps everyone access accurate information.
  • Embedded a contact form to make it more efficient to request support.
  • Added a footer across the branch, signposting to the new contact page. It’s common practice on web pages and helps us meet expectations.

5. Get to know IT Services

In the original structure, there wasn’t anywhere to shout about the impressive projects being led by IT Services or what they do. The new About section plugs this gap. It also appeals to prospective employees who want a sense of workplace culture.  

What’s next?

Phase two is another large piece of the puzzle. We’re continuing to collaborate with IT Services and rebuild more content. We’ll be designing a service catalogue (a collection of all the tools they offer in a standardised usable format) as well as working on equipment, facilities and IT accessibility web pages. We’ll iron out the details of this over the coming months, so watch this space for more shiny new content.  

After phase two, we’ll be working on the IT security and training pages, and wrapping up the project.

👀 Fancy a nosey? Explore the changes so far at

Making change happen web pages

In October, we launched a new set of web pages which bring together resources on change management for University teams. The project proved once again why content is key!

Here are the Making change happen web pages which we worked on with the People and Organisational Development (POD) team within HR.

Like all universities (and humans in general) we face changes big and small on a regular basis. These web pages and the resources they link to were compiled to help enable successful change at York.

This blog post is a quick case study of how the project went and why it went well.

The brief

First we had a solid brief to work from. In particular, we had a clear articulation of the business needs of the project from the POD team:

  • Increase change capability of leaders and managers
  • Create shared understanding of what good change looks like
  • Provide self-serve access to support and resources to enable good change
  • Being able to approach the same set of resources from different perspectives

Core user story

From those business needs, we created a user story to articulate in human terms the challenge to be solved:

“As a manager or leader at the University, I need resources to help me implement a change within my team. I need to learn about change management at my own pace. I need to know about the fundamentals of change management and/or and top up on areas I’m less familiar with.”


From those business needs and to meet the requirements of the user story, we and POD determined the outputs would be:

  • A framework of change principles for York and an approach that leads teams through key components of change
  • A collated and curated set of resources that support development of behaviours and skills associated with change management
  • Web presence providing self-serve access to support and resources

Embracing the CMS

A key goal for the self-serve resources was being able to approach the same set of resources from different perspectives.

The original idea was to use fancy widgets and tagging functionality. The downside of this was that doing so would involve using another web platform (outside of our Web CMS).

This would mean it wouldn’t be part of our core website experience and would be harder to find and maintain over the long term. So we agreed sticking with the main Web CMS would be best.

Our Digital team didn’t have capacity to build any bespoke templates but we knew we could still create a good user experience with what we’ve already got, because…

Content is key

This project was all about putting content at the heart of it, by really thinking through structures and content format.

Structure planning 

The resources would need to appear across two main categories initially:

  1. Change principles – such as how to share a vision or how to nurture innovation and ideas within a team
  2. Phases of change – relates to the phase of a change, from planning it through to embedding it into the daily life of a team

We looked at different ways we could use existing CMS content types and functionality. We decided building a hierarchy around the change categories and ‘mirroring’ the content would work well.


Content models

Next we developed content models. This is a structured way of presenting content.

We got really familiar with the change management resources, so we could work out how we could present them in a neat, consistent and user friendly format.

We developed models for the three types of pages we would need. Our colleagues in POD used these models to compile and create the information we needed to form the web content.

Category resources pages

The purpose of these pages is to provide the resources in a concise and easy to understand way.

Each page has a brief introduction and key factors to set the scene. Each resource is a separate piece of content in the CMS which can then be mirrored as necessary to other category pages. 

The content model was mocked in Google Docs first
Screenshot of the shared vision web page
The resources category page shows the content model in action

Category signposting pages

These pages introduce the main categories. We’ve used panels to link to the subcategories pages where the resources are housed.

Screenshot of the phases of change web page

Landing page

The landing page explains what the resources are for and how to use them.

Screenshot of the making change happen landing page.

Focus day

Getting all our ducks in a row with the content planning meant the build was easy and fun!

I worked with my brilliant and super helpful colleague, Reena, to build and edit the content in the CMS. We did this all in one day. It was so good to be able to focus on one project all day. And we got it all done!

Review and sign off

After that we had one round of stakeholder feedback and then a final sign off meeting. Content changes during review and sign off were minimal, thanks in large part to the content modelling stage earlier in the process.

Our stakeholders were really pleased with the process we’d supported them through and the end result.

What’s next?

For the next phase, we’ll be working with the Strategic Planning and Performance team and IT Services to migrate more resources into the new framework we’ve developed. 

We’ll also be adding short quotes and testimonials from leaders and managers who have used the resources for a change in their team. We’re looking forward to seeing these and hearing about how useful the resources are in practice.

Looking to the past: Rebuilding the History of the University web pages

Having recently joined Communications as Web Content Developer, I was keen to get stuck into the CMS. Luckily, one of my first tasks was to rebuild the History of the University branch on the website. For this quick turnaround project, my colleague Harriet and I had a focus day where we got the bulk of the work done. It was a super fun project and proved to be a real eye opener and a handy learning tool to get to grips with the CMS and the Digital Pattern Library (DPL) content types.

Why a rebuild?

The pages were receiving an increase in traffic due to the University’s 60th anniversary. The content was in legacy Classic templates and we didn’t have a page for the 2010s. It was a timely moment for an update.

Getting started

On our focus day we migrated the existing content into DPL templates. We made minimal changes to the content itself, but moving the pages over to DPL allowed us to rethink the layout. We decided to add prominence to the fantastic range of historic images that came from the York Digital Library, which give a real sense of each of the University’s six decades of history. The focus day proved really productive and gave Harriet and I the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and work through problems together.

The 2010s

Once we’d migrated the old pages over, I turned my attention to creating a new page for the 2010s, sourcing content for the news archive and researching wider national trends and events in higher education for the decade. A shout out to Alex Holland, Paul Shields and Charles Fonge for helping me hunt down images for the 2010s page gallery. I’m delighted with the range of assets we uncovered.

Finishing touches

After working through some finishing touches to make the content flow in the new layouts, there was just one thing missing. We needed a hero image on the landing page to illustrate the University’s vibrant history. We went to the design team with a request to pull a range of historic images into a cohesive montage graphic. Safe to say they delivered. Thank you Sean Gee for your help and expertise with this work.

Tidying up

I’m thrilled with how the new pages have turned out and the project has helped me quickly get to grips with the CMS in a ‘learning by doing’ way (which is my favourite way to learn). Looking ahead, future updates to the branch have been scheduled into our new web editorial calendar in Asana and a governance plan has been put in place.

Dive into the past and explore the history of the University.

Grand (digital) Designs: Building our new Digital Pattern Library CMS training

As we roll out our Digital Pattern Library (DPL) templates to more and more department websites, we’ve also needed to update our CMS training so that everyone using these templates is up to date with best practice. We took this opportunity to redevelop how the training is presented, and consider how we can make our training materials even more effective.

Continue reading Grand (digital) Designs: Building our new Digital Pattern Library CMS training

Tackling ongoing maintenance of the new school web branches

A key part of my role is to develop quality assurance and content governance processes for our web estate. I’ve recently tackled a small but important part of this by creating a governance model for our three shiny new school web presences.

Continue reading Tackling ongoing maintenance of the new school web branches

Branding our e-learning tool

To coincide with the launch of our new Web CMS training module, we created a new branded theme for the e-learning platform Xerte. We wanted something flexible and functional that would suit any potential e-learning application, while effectively implementing the University’s new look and feel.

Continue reading Branding our e-learning tool