Vitae

Vitae

Online community supporting career development for UK researchers

www.vitae.ac.uk

As explained on its website, CRAC (the Careers Research & Advisory Centre) is a registered charity with the remit to support the career-related learning of people of all ages. It has been a pivotal force in career development for researchers in higher education since 1968, when it ran a project to support transitions of doctoral researchers to industry. Much of its work has been funded by the UK Research Councils and UK HE funding bodies: Department for Employment and Learning (DELNI), Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Its Vitae website plays a key role in the UK drives for high-level skills, innovation and world-class researchers.
In 2013 CRAC asked Netsight to work with it on a major redevelopment of its Vitae website. At that point, CRAC wanted to introduce communities-based dimensions to the Vitae website and to integrate a full-fledged subscription and online payment system (in conjunction with its companion website: Research Development Framework Planner).

Even though the existing Vitae website had accumulated much information useful to researchers, the project team intended to make the Vitae website more interactive, more effectively structured, and easier to use across a range of devices (from desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones).

Vitae
During the first stages of redevelopment work Netsight used Agile methods to explore new approaches and worked closely with the Vitae project team through cycles of development, each focused on agreed objectives. This produced a new online portal based on new ‘responsive design’ templates offering access to a wide range of researcher communities, publications, news, events, and guidance for professional development. As part of this work Netsight developed a system that integrates seamlessly with a 3rd-party web-based tool (‘RDF Planner’), which organisations and individuals can use to map professional development of researchers.

Based on carefully specified requirements documentation provided by the Vitae project team, Netsight later used ‘Waterfall’ methods to implement a range of improvements that included: shared cookies to facilitate consistent user experience when visitors move between the coordinated Vitae and ‘RDF Planner’ sites; enhanced user profiles; more powerful search and administrative functionality; more extensive membership subscription options. Netsight also collaborated with Vitae on the design and implementation of cloud-based platform hosting and remote backup / disaster recovery strategies (ensuring that backups are stored outside the cloud platform).