March 13, 2012 at
We’ve been running WordPress at the university since 2008 and were the first university in the UK (in the world??) to implement BuddyPress, the social network that runs on top of the WordPress blogging platform. WordPress has come a long way in the four years we’ve been using it, moving away from being simply a blogging platform to a fully-fledged web ‘content management system’ (CMS) that now powers almost 72m websites (around 15% of sites on the Internet). Why is WordPress so popular? Arguably, because it’s open source software that has attracted thousands of contributors from around the world. Anyone can download and install WordPress for free and anyone with the skills can extend WordPress for their own purposes, all free of charge. It’s not simply a tool to build a website, but rather a technology platform that’s at the cutting edge of development on the web. It’s a great tool to learn if you’re a student or member of staff, and can be used to support degrees, courses, portfolios, projects and departments.
A new look
Today, we’re pleased to announce an upgrade to the look and feel of the university blogs. We’ve applied our own custom theme to make it look more consistent with other sites that you’ll see across the university soon. The theme uses some of the latest features in web development and was developed by Alex Bilbie, a student, who also works part-time in ICT services.
Some new features
Recently, we also switched on group forums, allowing group members to have extended, threaded discussions. Groups are ideal for communication around projects, courses or even departments that need a way for members to message each other. Groups can be private, invite only or open to anyone at the university, it’s up to you. You don’t have to run a forum either, as groups come with their own news feed where you can post updates.
We’ve also tweaked the social networking profile fields to differentiate between staff and students, too. If you’re a member of staff, you’ll soon be asked to use the blogs to maintain your university staff profile. Any member of staff can edit their profile as they wish and it will appear on the main university website within hours. Here’s an example of my BuddyPress profile and here it is on the staff directory. Students have their own profile fields to fill out and if you want to suggest other fields that you think will be useful, do let us know.
We hope you like the new look and features available on the university blogging platform. Remember, if you’re keen to learn more about how to use the blogs in your work and studies, there are a number of ways to learn more.