UCL News


Spotlight on Susan Farrell

15 February 2013

This week the spotlight is on Susan Farrell, Head of Web and Mobile Services in Information Services Division.

Susan Farrell

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am Head of Web & Mobile Services in Information Services Division. I have a team of nine people and we help staff across UCL to build and manage their websites. We became a team in May last year and our main focus is on improving the main UCL website. Sadly many parts of the UCL web estate do not reflect the world class nature of UCL and, as a team (working in conjunction with Communications and Marketing), we want to change that by providing expertise on all aspects of websites.

The big driver for most companies these days is to optimise the user experience on their website. This can only be done by understanding the users and how they will journey across a site to fulfil a task or find the information they need. But even that is not enough. Once the user reaches their 'goal', the content must tell them what they need to know, using language they understand.

Across the UCL web estate, not only is there a great variety in the design and layout of individual websites, the quality of the content is extremely poor in places and is definitely not worthy of an institution of the calibre of UCL. We want to change that and are working on a web strategy to set the direction of website development so that the quality of ucl.ac.uk matches that of our research and teaching.

So, to ensure that we can offer the best possible service to UCL staff, Web and Mobile Services is going through a Service Improvement Process. This is part of an ISD initiative to ensure all our services are optimised, and involves us looking at the processes and resources, identifying the 'pain points' and then putting a programme of work in place to improve the service.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I started at UCL in October 2011 following two years as a web consultant working with companies to help them optimise their web presence. Before that, I was Head of Web and Portal Services at King's College London.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I always find this question hard to answer because so much has changed since I started work as an information scientist many, many years ago, long before the web was even a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee's eye! But I think I have to pick out the major improvement to the King's College London's website that I led back in 2004-2005. At the heart of this was the introduction of a content management system that transformed the way that web content publishing was managed, and introduced standard templates for use by all departments.

What is your life like outside UCL?

I love reading and I can still remember the excitement of the first time I went to the local public library when I was about three. My love of libraries remains and, despite my digital credentials, I will be sad if libraries ever go totally electronic. I also love knitting and choral singing. 

In the last couple of years, I have surprised myself by finding a new hobby that brings out an artistic side to me I could have sworn was not there, having definitely endured, rather than enjoyed, Art at school.  It is flower arranging, and it is great for relaxing while producing something beautiful.