School of Physics UNSW
The University of New South Wales School of Physics is one of the leading Physics departments in Australia, from the quality and breadth of research programs to the community liaison activities. The School currently has some 26 permanent academic staff, approximately 50 research staff and 30 support staff. Each year the School teaches more than 1600 first year undergraduates and over 50 students are currently enrolled in postgraduate research degrees.
Historically the school has distinguished itself as an early adopter of web technologies, staff have often taken the initiative to make a wealth of information available online. As a result, the web presence of the School had evolved via separate successful projects. The School wanted to bring all these elements together in one unified space.
For many years the Science Faculty had been handling event bookings for the School and the School now wished to develop their own event booking facility to enable more direct linking to the active outreach programme and social media presence of the School. The School of Physics had, a collection of high-quality material which had little visual consistency and appeared to be disjoint to the casual visitor. A large section of this content had been created using older technologies and some of this content was no longer usable on modern technology.
We ran a scoping project to assist the school in defining their needs more fully. A strong business case was developed linking the research of the school to the teaching of the school.
An enthusiastic team of staff were invited to drive the project. The team worked with us to develop a new look for the school , this new look had consistency with the UNSW Branding Guidelines. An incremental approach was taken to develop the site allowing large sections to be converted as School resources became available. Drupal was decided upon as an good tool for the job and as a bonus many people had experience with it, as it is the preferred solution at UNSW.
With a view to keeping site maintenance to a minimum, processes were automated. A permission system allows staff to maintain sections of the site in their areas of responsibility while not interfering with other areas. This permission system has the benefit of simplifying the interface provided to staff. With research being linked to teaching via the Academic profiles, high-quality personal photos of staff were sourced to provide an appealing visual space.
Facebook integration was used to embed the Physics School Events in the Facebook page, allowing booking to occur on both Facebook and their website. Email reminders for events are able to be automatically sent to visitors, and last minute messages able to be sent to all those who have booked for events. The bookings actually being managed by the school site.
A support and training process was put in place to enable the technical department of the School to host and support the site post-launch.
The school has an organised, consistent, and visually appealing website that is accessible across multiple devices.
The research and the teaching of the school are now clearly linked. The School links academics to their teaching subjects and academics have complete control of the online presence of their research groups and the members of their research groups. A significant amount of automation simplifies this process. Events are managed in-house and include integration with Facebook.
The website unifies and a great deal of diverse content under the UNSW School of Physics brand. The School continues to have the site evolve with their ever changing needs.