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Rivet and the IT Tactical Plan

Experience Architect Kate Robinson talks about Rivet's role in the IT Tactical Plan.

Scott Anthony Murray

Jul 28, 2021

Last May, the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology released the first version of their wide-ranging IT Tactical Plan (ITTP).

To learn more about the ITTP and how it relates to Rivet, I reached out to Kate Robinson, an experience architect with the Digital Campus Design & Infrastructure team. Beyond being a frequent collaborator with the Rivet team, Kate has done a great deal of research into how IU’s web space is managed to better inform how digital teams might execute on the ITTP.

I asked Kate about the overall goals of the ITTP, the role Rivet plays in the plan, how Rivet can help meet the plan’s objectives, and what challenges her research has revealed that the Rivet team must be mindful of in order to succeed.

Scott: What is the IT Tactical Plan? Why is it important for anyone working on digital properties at IU?

Kate: The IT Tactical Plan maps out tactical goals for the ever-evolving IT-enabled services at IU. The plan includes 70 different goals that touch almost every group within UITS. It covers initiatives such as reducing the cost of product licensing, improving cybersecurity, and expanding learning technologies.

The ITTP is important to anyone working in digital properties at IU because it provides insight into IU’s technology-related priorities and provides information that is reshaping how UITS does its work.

I worked on goal #69, which was to gather quantitative data on digital campus maintenance. This meant figuring out how many websites IU has, how often they’re updated, what they look like, who maintains them, and so on. My research also involved gathering benchmarking data about the industry, both within and outside of higher education.

Scott: What role does the Rivet design system play in the ITTP?

Kate: Rivet comes up several times in the ITTP. Goal #67 was about the release of the next version of Rivet in the summer of 2020. That goal was put on hold due to a change in priorities during the pandemic.

Goal #68 was focused on gathering qualitative and quantitative data on the state of IU’s digital campus for both desktop and mobile experiences. Using the Rivet design system helped speed up the creation of the wireframes we tested.

More interestingly, Rivet came up quite a bit in the qualitative research that was conducted with IU students. While they weren’t familiar with Rivet specifically, they did comment on its effects—noticing and appreciating the cohesive design, branding, and improvements in experience that Rivet brings to the table.

As I pulled together the inventory of IU’s digital ecosystem, I noted whether or not websites used Rivet. Moving forward, it will be a metric by which we’ll measure consistency within the ecosystem.

Scott: How can Rivet help IU meet some of the ITTP’s objectives?

Kate: Big themes across the entirety of the ITTP are efficiency and making the most of our resources. When developers and designers use Rivet, they are taking advantage of all the design, development, and accessibility work that has gone into it, allowing them more time to devote to the specific needs of their organization.

When people use Rivet, they are creating properties that align with the IU brand, which improves the overall consistency of our digital campus.

Scott: What challenges with IU’s web space identified by the ITTP must the Rivet team be mindful of in order to be successful with our next major version of the design system?

Kate: A couple of challenges come to mind. The first is the variety of “types” of digital properties that exist within the ecosystem. IU has a lot of websites with a lot of different purposes. How can Rivet accommodate the majority of those needs so that most people will feel that it’s a solution they can use?

The second challenge is related to resources and the cycle of web development. In the past five years a large number of websites started using the IU Web Framework. A lot of work went into redesigning, rebuilding, and migrating those websites.

It will be important to communicate to those units how Rivet and the Web Framework relate to each other and what work, if any, will be required on their part to take advantage of the new Rivet styles, components, and layouts on their Framework site.

Many thanks to Kate for taking the time to share her insights and for her continued leadership in improving IU’s digital campus.