07 Jul 2020

The TUC's SharePoint Intranet


I’ve been working with the TUC on the development of their new Intranet. It’s just been launched and is developed entirely in SharePoint. The TUC uses the Microsoft 365 platform as their core business software, for example, for email and document management. A key part of this offering is SharePoint online - a powerful document management and file storage facility. SharePoint can be complicated to set-up and migrating from a traditional, server based, file system to SharePoint is a hefty project. It also requires training and support, as it’s quite different for users who aren’t familiar with
17 Jul 2019

Apprenticeship Essentials


I’ve been working with unionlearn to create a range of new tools for apprentices and those thinking of becoming apprentices. Called Apprenticeship Essentials, this suite of online resources can be accessed either via a dedicated app or on through the unionlearn website. Apprenticeship Essentials has range of features, from pay checking and guidance to elearning and job vacancies. Some of these require registration, but all are free to use. There are guides to apprenticeship basics, entering the world of work, employment rights and how trade unions can help in the workplace. There is also a
17 Jun 2019

Launching Careerzone for unionlearn


Unionlearn, the learning and skills organisation of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has recently launched a new careers area on their website called ‘Careerszone’. The aim is to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ with information and resources on careers. I’ve led on the development of this new facility, which uses official ‘big data’ sources to generate careers data alongside other resources. One of the key tools is a comprehensive careers directory, which has a detailed breakdown of almost 400 occupations as classified by the Office for National Statistics. This includes job descriptions, required
08 Sep 2017

How big is your union website in 2017?


A couple of years ago, I looked at the sizes of the websites of all the TUC affiliated unions, to see how they compared. I’ve found myself coming back to this analysis quite often. Various unions have wanted an idea of how large their website is compared to others, or have wanted to judge how their website has changed since a redesign. As a result, I thought it would be useful to update these metrics. For the sake of this comparison, only pages publically indexed in Google are included. It is impossible to include members’ only pages, so please be aware of this limitation. Also, some pages may
16 Nov 2016

Diversity Project website now live


I’ve been working on a website for a new initiative, designed to encourage greater diversity and inclusion in the investment and savings industry. The site has recently gone live, and can be seen at http://diversityproject.com. The project started after a group of leaders in the investment industry got together in early 2016 and decided to take action to accelerate progress towards a more representative workforce in the sector. One of the driving forces behind it is the Helena Morrissey, the Chair of the Investment Association and former CEO of Newton Investment Management. She also set-up the
24 Jun 2016

New Prospect website


One of the latest projects I’ve been involved with has recently gone live: Prospect, the professional’s union, has just launched their new website. I’ve been helping with the website's new mobile and tablet friendly design, but also with some major changes to the information architecture. The new design is responsive, a design approach that allows the template to change depending on the screen size being used to view the website. This means that users viewing on tablets or browsers see a slightly different layout than those on desktops, avoiding the need to zoom in and out to read the content
31 Jan 2016

A look at Drupal 8


Drupal 8 was released at the end of 2015. This is a major new version of Drupal, the second most popular website CMS (Content Management System). WordPress is the most popular CMS, and is a great solution for smaller websites and blogs. I use WordPress regularly to build these types of sites. However, for larger sites that need more complex solutions, I find that Drupal is usually the best option. While many CMS systems release major updates frequently, Drupal tends to be more stable. The last major release was Drupal 7 in January 2011. This new version (Drupal 8) was released almost 5 years
16 Jul 2015

How big is your union website (2015)?


Recently, I’ve been looking at the sizes of union websites as a benchmarking exercise to inform a union website redesign project. I thought I’d share the results of the analysis, as it provides some interesting insights, in particular the huge variation in size. It’s difficult to say how much content a website should have. Having too much or too little content both have their pitfalls. A good range of high quality content is a positive, but too much content can bloat a website, making navigation and searching difficult and slow. Similarly, too little content will be of limited use to members
09 Jun 2015

How to improve your website navigation


As well as designing and building websites, I'm often asked to review existing sites to help improve them. One common problem I come across is poor navigation. Navigation can make or break your website. If visitors can’t find what they are looking for, they become frustrated and leave. This is especially the case for websites with lots of information, and many of the websites I've worked on fit into this category. While website navigation is a wide subject, there are some key principles that should be adhered to when designing a navigation structure. The navigation should take into account the
24 Mar 2015

What is responsive design?


Every website I've built over the last few years have been developed using a technique called ‘Responsive Design’. I'm often asked what this is and why it’s needed, so I’d thought I’d explain this approach to website design. Before the rise of devices like smartphones and tablets, almost every visit to a website was made on a desktop or laptop computer. This made designing websites quite straightforward. You knew what kind of screen width most of your visitors would be using, and you could design a website around these fixed dimensions. Now people access websites through a plethora of gadgets