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IWMW 2019 conference write-up

At the end of June, 6 representatives from the University of Edinburgh attended the 2019 IWMW conference at the University of Greenwich. In this post, a few of us share our thoughts on the event.

Jennifer Doyle – Business School

Why did you decide to attend the conference?

I’d been aware of the conference for a couple of years, and having recently stepped up my role in the Business School, felt it was a good professional development opportunity, as well as a chance to network.

Previous external conferences and training I’d been to had little in the way of practical relevance to the challenges of working in the University sector, so I was looking for something that might have more insights for me and my colleagues.

It proved to be exactly as useful as I’d hoped, and was a great opportunity to meet others facing the same ups and downs we do!

What was the best presentation or session?

It’s a straight tie between Gareth Edwards’ ‘No, You Don’t need a Website’ and Oliver Emberton’s ‘So You Think You Know Accessibility’. The first for tapping into a subject dear to my heart (and giving me some pro-tips for pursuing it), and the second for causing me to re-evaluate our assumed understanding of accessibility in the modern web environment.

‘No, you don’t need a website’ (Gareth Edwards) abstract, slides and video

‘So you think you know accessibility’ (Oliver Emberton) abstract, slides and video

What was the big trend or takeaway point you took from the conference?

Accessibility came through a lot as a topic and certainly engaged my colleagues from afar when we were discussing it later. Not just accessibility in the common understanding of being able to consume information despite a pre-existing impairment, but also making your content as accessible as possible to everyone, and ensuring that it isn’t obscured by unnecessary add-ons.

People aren’t using our sites in the same way they used to, and we need a better understanding of how, why, and when information is consumed to be as effective as possible at conveying it.

Guillaume Evrard – CAHSS Digital Innovation Team

Why did you decide to attend the conference?

As a professional development opportunity, to hear from colleagues beyond the University.

I have a special interest in change and its implications, and in strategic thinking. This year’s event theme (‘Times they are a-changing’) was therefore very relevant and interesting.

What was the best presentation or session?

I don’t know about ‘the best’, all contributions were very inspired and inspiring. The one presentation that resonated the most with me was ‘No, you don’t need a website’, by Gareth Edwards.

The fact that it was on the first morning of the event might be one reason for my choice. Both fundamental and topical contents and vintage deck of slides were extremely compelling.

I’d like to recommend this presentation for inclusion in the induction pack of all new University management staff.

‘No, you don’t need a website’ (Gareth Edwards) abstract, slides and video

What was the big trend or takeaway point you took from the conference?

  1. Talk more with suppliers
  2. Talk more with colleagues (business and IT alike)
  3. Launch a sector-wide campaign to forbid FAQs, now, here, tomorrow, everywhere
  4. Explore further headless CMS and structured content architecture
  5. Prepare a contribution to IWMW 2020

My experience

Why did you decide to attend the conference?

After great experiences at the last 2 IWMWs, I had the opportunity to join the conference Advisory Group. So this year I was not only a delegate, I was making things happen, which I recapped in a post I wrote for the IWMW blog.

What was the best presentation or session?

I’m going to be incredibly (but justifiably) biased and give some praise to Jonathan Trout, our very own Head of Web Strategy, for closing the conference with an awesome plenary.

Jonathan gave a very honest account of the problems with our web estate, but was also positive and inspiring in his messages about our plans to change that.

I left the conference feeling super excited about the changes that are to come here. Jonathan’s talk is a must-watch for Edinburgh staff.

‘How to turn a web strategy into web services’ (Jonathan Trout) abstract, slides and video

What was the big trend or takeaway point you took from the conference?

I had a very personal takeaway from the conference related to how I work: I need to become less website-focused.

Gareth Edwards’s excellent plenary highlighted how websites are often not the solution, and while I 100% know this to be the case, I sometimes think working for a team called ‘Website’ & Communications and having ‘Website’ in my job title makes me lose sight of this.

So my post-conference action plan is to disregard the names around me and get in a more digital- and service- oriented mind-set. I want that to influence how I respond to the new website requests we receive and the advice I give out at our weekly support clinics.

Conference slide decks

You can view the slide decks from this year’s conference on the IWMW SlideShare page.

IWMW SlideShare

1 reply to “IWMW 2019 conference write-up”

  1. Máire Cox says:

    A great summary of what was a really good conference. I’d 100% agree with the recommendations to have a look at Gareth and Jonathan’s slides and/or video. Also to think long and hard about accessibility.

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