An update from the UoNSU Digital Development team...
Like any new website or IT system there’ve been a few teething issues that you may have experienced in the first few weeks since we launched back on 7 September. We appreciate your patience and support during this time and hope the following will give you all the information you need to succeed during your time at UoNSU.
Accessing the website
If you’re experiencing an error message ‘Disallowed key characters’, then please take the simple step of clearing your cookie cache. This is a one-time issue and shouldn’t happen again.
Email communications to group members
You should now have received a message (which will be visible as a banner at the top of your Member Dashboard) with the details for your new society @uonsu email address. The first person to login will need to change the password, so make sure you share this information with the rest of your committee.
Email communications to group committee members
From this point on, most emails relating to group activity will be sent to your group @uonsu email address. This means that you will no longer receive important bulk emails (such as information on funding opportunities, Societies Council, covid guidelines, and more) from the Student Groups team to your individual student email address. This will ensure that our communications are more equitable as all groups will receive all communications, regardless of whether you have correctly submitted a committee details form.
Student group pages
We’ve been very busy the last few weeks working with the activities team and activities officer, Denis. Ensuring you have the right access and permissions to run your groups effectively. If you can’t access the Dashboard, please ensure you have purchased your group membership, as without this you will not be listed as Committee. Whilst you’re updating your Group Description pages, we are busy in the background requesting new SUMS functionality to help you create more vibrant activity pages than ever before. This may take a few months to develop, but it will be worth it. Watch this space!
Expenses and X365
By now, Treasurers should have access to view your statements and make expenses claims, and we are working through adding Presidents too. If not? Make sure that you have a valid membership with your club or society, that you are confirmed as a committee member. If your University email address has changed, try re-registering with x365 with your new email.
Associate members access
Associate membership is currently under development. This is not just a University of Nottingham Student’s Union request, but that of several other unions nationwide. This is one of the more complex things that needs to be developed and we will keep you updated over the coming weeks.
We hope you are using this function to its fullest. But be aware that there is a 30-day expiry from the day a student registers their interest.
Memberships will now be active for one full year from date of purchase, rather than expiring in September.
There was an issue with over-charging of booking fees. This issue has now been resolved and refunds for charges over 45p are being processed. We are also aware that booking fees are being charged on free memberships, which we are working on getting resolved as soon as possible. If you can, please hold off from ‘purchasing’ these until we have the issue fixed.
Please ensure that you are still using the Jotform for events applications, we will aim to open the new process on the dashboard as soon as we can. In the meantime, you are still able to advertise your events on the website. In order to do this, when filling in an events form, just be sure to tick the box that says ‘yes, I want it advertising on the app’.
Elections and constitution changes
This function has recently become available, so please bear with us whilst the Student Groups team become familiar with it. You will receive communications to your group @uonsu email address on how to submit elections and constitution changes when it is ready.
Don’t forget that all training documents for the website can be found here: https://bit.ly/379OfkE
If you need to contact a team member/have a query please use the following contact details:
For General Enquiries: email@example.com
For Website: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Finance: email@example.com
For Volunteering: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our development timeline:
What we've done up to now and why
Ta-da! Our new site has launched! For the first few weeks, we’re concentrating on functionality, making sure that key areas like Advice, Make Change and Activities contain all the info you need and that they work smoothly. We still have some changes and improvements to make, but for now, you can use these pages as you need to.
Lots of other pages are ready too, including About us – a brand-new area that our student feedback team asked for at the very start of the process. This area is all about your SU – who we are, what we do and why we do it, and it was something we didn’t have on our old site.
Most importantly, we’ve got a shiny new front-end! We started from scratch with a blank canvas after you told us you didn’t want to keep anything from the old site. So our new site is fresh, clean and functional, uses new brand colours to make it more accessible, and has a particular focus on making sure it works the way you need it to.
Ready, set, launch!
Week one is all about making sure the site works and performs really well – both now and in the future. After all, it’s these foundations that will allow us to develop and improve the site further in the future.
This means we won’t be carrying out quick fixes over the first few days post-launch, but we will be changing and repairing bits and pieces when more of you view and use the site as you normally would.
Our core staff team will also be using the site for the first time during this first week, including the back-end systems. This will be a key part of the launch process as we need to make sure everyone can complete their day-to-day tasks so that they can support and empower you – our members – everyday.
And that’s not all – our design and content team still have lots of work to do with images and resources, especially where they’re part of key functionality.
Squashing those pesky bugs
Now it’s time to focus on areas that are particularly important, including replacing placeholder imagery. You might spot key changes in areas like event listings, activity listings, news stories and a few other key pages too, and all changes should be completed within a few weeks.
We’re also looking to roll out our ‘quick links’ buttons. They’ll sit at the top of the homepage and will allow you to head straight to particular pages – like starting a society, buying tickets, and getting in touch with SU Advice, among others – all at the touch of a button. Simple! Keep an eye on them too – they'll change throughout the year to reflect the tasks you’re doing most.
As well as this, we’ll make sure all our resources are up to date, and set out a timeline so we can make sure they’re all in our branding and style. We’ll also set up Google Analytics and Tag Manager (specifically for things like advertising on the homepage).
Bedding in, finding room for improvement
From here on in we’re all about improvements and additions. Welcome will be in full swing and that means our site will be getting its first true test.
Once we’ve dealt with any fixes, we’ll start implementing some of the new designs for the pages and areas that we weren’t able to work on prior to launch. These include:
Your Officers and Trustees, bars and shops, advertise with us, news, elections, campaigns and sustainability.
These key areas all have a brand-new front-end design that's ready to go, and we can’t wait to show it off. Many of these pages will also benefit from rich, dynamic content and extra functionality, including pre-ordering, live stats and opportunities to chat with the SU Officer team.
Adapting to new landscapes
Towards the end of the year, we want to introduce some quality of life improvements and put our stamp on the site by including our brand story. How? Well, for starters, we’ll design and implement site-wide iconography, making this available to student groups so they can use the suite across their own physical and digital branding and artwork.
We’ll also look to make improvements to our content and review where it sits on the site. Our student feedback panel told us that some of our areas can seem slightly messy, so this is a great time to make sure our pages and content are the best they can be in readiness for the next year.
In practice, this might mean moving five pages’ worth of content onto one page and organising it so that it’s grouped into easy-to-read sections. This not only gives you a better, more streamlined user experience, it also gives us a better content hierarchy too.
Before the end of 2020, we’ll review each of our pages from both a content and design perspective. This is important as by looking over pages that have been live for a longer period of time and have been used by a lot of visitors, we can clearly spot any problems and fix them.
The final step will involve technical optimisation: decreasing page load times, increasing stability and making sure the site works on as many devices as possible.
Keeping up momentum, non-stop development
This new website is the first truly dynamic site in the SU’s history. And that means we’re in a great place to be able to develop how we use the site to implement our communication and engagement strategy – particularly as we move into the ‘new normal’ and the next academic year.
New students – and especially new SU Officers – bring new ideas and needs, giving us the chance to view the site with fresh eyes and develop it over the coming years, ensuring longevity and consistency across the staff team.
It’s also really important that we give our social enterprises a fantastic digital presence, not only because they’re a key part of the SU’s community, but because they’re also vital to our financial stability, so this will be a priority for 2021.
We can also look at extra functionality for third parties, as well as develop the back-end so that you can pre-order gifts and goodies, order takeaways – or even organise delivery.
In 2021, we want to bring key functionality and ownership back to the Sutton Bonington area of the site, making sure it’s no longer under-used or under-developed. As part of the this, we’ll be working closely with the SB Guild, finding out what they hope to achieve for their area of the site and make it an online hub for anyone on the Sutton Bonington campus.