I spent a couple of days this last week in Reading at the Institutional Web Managers Workshop run by UKOLN. Videos from the event and a lot more can be found on the event blog at http://iwmw.ukoln.ac.uk/blog/2011/.  It was an interesting couple of days and it was fascinating to compare HE institutional web management with my previous experiences of local government institutional web management.  The chill wind of budget cutbacks are being felt in the HE sector although perhaps not yet as severely as had been feared.  The need to justify (and explain) the difference the web team makes in hard cash terms is certainly something that local government has had to address for some time.   So it was good to see one of the first presenters (Ranjit Sidhu) tackle how to present data about website value in a way that plays directly to that need.  Rather than showing visits, visitors or page views by showing usage in cost terms by segmenting use by location of visitor, concentrating on conversion rates and turning them into cash values.  A much more powerful approach.

Although a lot of the sessions were mostly aimed directly at institutional web managers there were quite a few sessions that were of value to me.  The parallel sessions I went to, one on Legal aspects from JISC Legal and one on Linked and Open Data at Southampton were particularly useful and interesting.  Probably unsurprisingly the legal issue on most people’s minds was the new EU ‘cookies’ legislation.  For a piece of legislation that we need to be complying by next spring there’s still some way to go to sort out exactly what is needed and get it in place.

The Linked Data session from Chris Gutteridge from Southampton was also really useful. It was great to look at the range of data that they are making available and the approach they are taking to do the work.  Using Google Docs as a simple way of getting end users to update their data is a good approach and I particularly liked that they were keen to show the value of the data by getting quotes from data providers about the benefits.  The catering data that they’ve done a lot of work with shows the value really well, and the map display approach is a really good way of providing access to the data.  You can see Southhampton’s data at http://data.southampton.ac.uk