The UKAPW content: Landing pages, missing content

The UKAPW has a huge amount of high quality content, including hundreds of actuarial papers and presentations. There are other essentials: courses, exam results, meetings, CPD etc. Nonetheless, the content is not shown to best effect, as this page explains.

We can identify two types of content:
  1. content specifically written for the UKAPW e.g. introductory "landing pages"
  2. presentations and papers written for other purposes, but linked to on the UKAPW.

The first type of content is relatively poorly written, while the second is hard to find.

[1] Content specifically written for the website

The UKAPW sitemap lists 600-700 such pages – there may be more. In fact the sitemap lists only pages of this type; the sitemap contains no papers or presentations as far as I can see.

[1.1] Landing pages: doorways to the main UKAPW areas

The 10 main areas are introduced by what the UKAPW calls a "landing page". These pages should form a useful doorway into the area, but they are generally poorly written, with becoming an actuary a possible exception.

Questions which should be addressed in a landing page, but often are not include:
  • What material is covered by the area e.g. what is the definition and scope of ERM?
  • Who is the target audience and am I likely to be interested?
  • Where can I learn more?
  • How can I contribute?

[1.2] Improving the content

Improving the landing page content would be relatively easy. We could involve a wider range of members of the profession in writing content, with users voting for the most helpful pages. Why not get collaborative a la Amazon and Wikipedia?

Table: content by area
High level areaQuality of landing page (including content)
Home Appalling: this lacks both content and useful functionality. A pile of tricks and fluff.
Becoming an actuary Acceptable; each column has a clear purpose and each link is relevant to the subject area.
Students Little real content. More a dumping ground. Poor use of third column. Compared to the preceding "becoming an actuary" section this is rather sad:
  • The graphics and links at the top of the middle column are over-engineered.
  • The "student events" appears to be the same events as on the home page.
  • The "student community" bar simply says "no groups". What does that mean?
  • The four graphical links at the bottom would be much better placed in the right hand pane, keeping the solitary "certificates for students" link company.
Members Just about acceptable, but why not spend some space explaining what services are offered to members. Articulate how the Profession gives world class support to its members.
Communities Not enough thought has been put into this page:
  • The breadcrumb Home >> Enterprise risk management >> Communities is inaccurate: is should be Home >> Communities
  • The central graphic is irrelevant and distracting.
  • The overall idea of communities is not stated.
  • The note that I am not a member of any communities is misleading; you need to be logged in for this to make sense.
  • The Hinton document under website feedback seems misplaced.
  • Can we really not find anything relevant to put in the third column?
Practice areas The first two columns are good, but again there is little of relevance in the third column. Related links would be an idea.
News Why not explain the basis on which news stories have been selected? Or, better still, just drop the news section.
Events How about some scope? What events are covered and who is this aimed at?
  • Is there some way of finding all events of a given type?
  • What about past events and papers?
  • Overseas events?
  • Events with other professions?
Why have three swappable pictures for the 3 main conventions when they are the top items in the left hand menu?
Research and resources Poor. Someone clicking on this section of the FIA website should be presented with clear material on what the main areas of actuarial research are, where they can be found, opportunities for volunteering etc. "Read more" links should be provided for the top articles in the middle column as per the bottom items and for consistency with the "news" pages. Finally the third column includes the publication of the month and "the European Actuary". Filler content. We can do better than this.
Regulation Real content! The headings in the middle column rather get lost in the mass of text.
About us This is a fair attempt to provide some real content and explanation. The third column is weak.
Other Accessibility statement, Contact us, Disclaimer, Privacy policy, Search, Site features, Site map. These 7 areas each consist of just a single page.

Content recommendations

  1. Link the content to layout and navigation
  2. Drop the irrelevant home page content
  3. Make the "related links" related
  4. Improve the "landing" page content

[2] Presentation and papers not specifically written for the website

Typically the UKAPW hosts and links to actuarial papers or presentations. There are thousands of these papers and the responsibility for quality lies with the authors. But accessing them through the UKAPW is not easy and bad links occur with disappointing frequency.

[2.1] Accessibility

The main way of accessing such content is through the site search. None of it appears on the sitemap: this is fine, although see comment on "missing content" in [2.4].

[2.2] Bad links

The issue with bad links – both links which generate an error page and those which simply point to the wrong content – has been set out in some detail on our bad links page I have often notified the web team of bad links (and sitemap issues etc). I rarely get a response and the issues usually take months to put right – at best.

[2.3] Consistency of content

We claimed that "Consistent layout should in turn drive consistent content." Here's how this might work:
  • Think about the content and what this might mean in terms of columns.
  • Confirm the purpose of columns 1 and 3 e.g. navigation, functionality, related links.
  • Start writing high level landing pages.
  • Confirm that you can populate columns 1 and 3 appropriately.
  • Continue this process with the lower level pages.

This process will confirm – probably quick quickly – that the 3-column layout is appropriate (or not). Are the columns being used as expected? Is this easy or artificial?

Another thing which might help is a website "style guide", focusing on tone, grammar, length of sentence etc. This would be especially helpful if the UKAPW high level content became more of a collaborative effort.

[2.4] Missing content

This is a big one. It is impossible to find collected papers for past actuarial conferences. Apparently these were on previous versions of the site but not on the current version. Madness. The SOA website is better at this: see our SOA case study