In 2011, I was given the chance to lead one of the largest web redesign projects that University College Cork had ever undertaken. We undertook a root and branch redevelopment of both the visual appearance and information architecture of the upper levels of the university website. It was my job to project manage the whole endeavour.
We set ourselves an ambitious timeline, aiming to launch the redeveloped website before Christmas of 2012. This would involve restructuring our core course offering pages and the main site navigation as well as moving to a responsive design for the site. The project would end up involving hundreds of stakeholders from across the university and beyond. From initiation, to requirements gathering to procurement, development and delivery, I lead a team of dedicated people eager to improve the web experience for our end users. Of course, it was certainly not without it’s challenges. University websites often suffer from a lack of focus, trying to be all things to all audiences, and the UCC website was no different. During this project, we focused on our core audiences with a heavy bias towards prospective students from school leavers to graduates to adult learners all the way to International students.
For me, the scale of the project was at times daunting. But with support from key project sponsors we managed to get it over the line. It was technically 3 months late due to delays in getting key content from the many stakeholders (the university has hundreds of courses which all needed to be rewritten, image content generated for them, proof read and the data entered into our content management system). We also encountered some difficulties with our key suppliers at a crucial moment of the project. But by following a structured project management approach, these issues could be escalated to key decision makers and budget holders, allowing us to continue with the delivery of the project.
Despite several late nights and weekends, we finally went live with the new site at the end of February 2013. The new design was very well received and we were the first university in Ireland to have a website based on a responsive design framework. This lead to us reaching the finals of the Irish Web Awards for best 3rd level or Educational website. We didn’t win but it was a great recognition of the work that went into the site.
Following on from this project, we then had a second project to migrate the lower level sites (UCC has 360+ subsites) to this new design. I had to engage each site owner and manage the changeover of their sites via our Content Management System. For this I lead a team of student interns to perform the data migration following the implementation of an automation process that I developed in conjunction with our CMS supplier. I’m particularly proud of this process as the previous time we had migrated to a new design it had taken us several years before all sites had been moved over. This time, we managed to complete the process in less than 18 months. Considering the volume of content that was involved, this was a great achievement.
Throughout this time, I undertook further training to improve my project management skills, achieving my Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) in mid 2014.