- October 16, 2013
The emergency preparedness exercise scheduled on campus a couple of weeks ago required us to come up with an answer for fast and flashy messaging on the Berea.edu home page. I hope you got to see the “green ribbon” ABOVE the standard berea.edu banner. If you didn’t see it that day, you can see it now at the top of THIS post.
Webteam can activate this plug in on any berea.edu site and, once activated, web content managers have complete control over when and how they use it. Think about it. Let us know when you want it activated on YOUR site!
- August 16, 2013
This post is intended to encourage you to give your use of hyperlinks — as creator, not consumer — a “second thought.”
There are two commonly used types of hyperlinks inside berea.edu: “list items” and “in-text references.” List items include all the menus you create for your sites — e.g., “left nav” tabs, bulleted lists for site navigation, etc. In-text references are those hyperlinks you create using words in a paragraph. Today we’re specifically considering the in-text hyperlinks that, if clicked, take your reader AWAY FROM YOUR TEXT and OUT OF YOUR WEBSITE.
Consider NOT including such links in your text, but adding them to the bottom of your article as is illustrated in the screenshot above.
Note that in this description of a convocation from our “Convocation” web site, the names of the centers are parenthetically presented after the names of the directors who comprise a panel in this convocation. On first impulse, all of us might have considered just making those center names in-text hyperlinks. However, if you read this description of this convocation you can see each of these centers is “not the point” of the convo. The point is explicit in the first sentence: “A conversation on culture, race, and religion…”
The web content manager elected to leave the blurb text link free and, instead, list the centers directed by the speakers at the end of the blurb. (I added the highlighting to the screenshot for this post.) This is “compassionate hyperlinking.” It’s best for the reader and the page but still provides the center websites (your neighbors in our constellation) some prospective new visitors.
- from Wikipedia “Hyperlink” (a good general essay about hypertext and hyperlinking)
- Our Convocations website
- July 11, 2013
It’s compelling to come across a web page that keeps you looking. A nice, big “slider” at the top of your homepage and/or popular landing pages is one good way to appeal to visitors.
We’re publishing, today, a “WCM Tip” titled “How to configure an ALLINONE CONTENTSLIDER for use in berea.edu.” The point is to keep these sliders performing predictably throughout the constellation. To do that, there are certain settings in the slider’s configuration that should be turned ON and others that should be turned OFF.
This “Tip” is available as a Word “.docx” file and can be downloaded here.
We recommend that you take a look if you are already using one or more sliders in your site OR if you think you might use one later.
- July 5, 2013
Since almost everything requiring technological gymnastics that happens in a WordPress website is made possible by a plugin, it’s safe to say those 18% of all web sites built using WordPress are testaments to the value of “augmentation via plugin.”
Nonetheless, web life with plugins is dangerous. Not for the faint of heart. Problems are diverse, but one frequent problem has to do with “versions colliding.” For example, version 6 of Plugin-Y might have been crafted when the WordPress platform was in version 2.x. When the site owner updates his WordPress to version 3.0, Plugin-Y might start behaving badly. WordPress veterans know not to hurry into installing WordPress version updates; some go so far as to contact the support forums for their favorite plugins and wait awhile to see what happens (hopefully nothing).
More intractable plugin problems include one plugin conflicting with another. At berea.edu we’ve run into this a few times over the past year (our first year of deploying berea.edu as a WordPress CMS).
All this can lead to considerable anxiety for small site owners and bloggers, but when versions collide or plugins conflict in a massive WordPress “Multisite” installation like berea.edu it can be downright apocalyptic. And that’s why web content managers cannot independently install and activate plugins (or widgets).
Before a plugin makes it into berea.edu it is vetted by a team of people inside and outside the college. (They study the effects of the installed plugins on a test site that is, effectively, “off line.”) For their testing to remain useful, all plugins must run through the process and the ones that we decide to keep and activate remain on the server to interact with future plugins and WordPress versions.
For this security, we must all exercise patience. If you discover a plugin or any other “augmentation” you might like to use on your site. Drop me an email with the details and we’ll start the vetting process.
- June 4, 2013
This fall and throughout next calendar year the IMC webteam will be taking steps to bring berea.edu into the “mobile era.”
We’ve already dabbled: The Inauguration website uses a responsive theme that senses the size of the screen you are using and “reconstructs” the pages for the best possible viewing experience. I urge you to see for yourself. Browse through the entire inauguration site on your smartphone or tablet.
Even videos and photo galleries are presented “to size” and intelligently. No more pinching and stretching and scrolling right or left!
Responsive themes aren’t the solution to everything, but for a web constellation like berea.edu — 130 sites inside and tens of thousands of pages, images, documents and rich media — “going responsive” is a better bet than a separate web presence built just for mobile devices.
Exactly how we’ll get there is being figured out now. It seems likely that we’ll prioritize sites for conversion to the responsive theme. While every web site can “make a case” for being responsive, for some it may be more important than others. How many of YOUR visitors might need your information when they’re not at their desks?
Give it some thought and stay tuned here. And, by all means drop me a line if you feel strongly you should be in the front of the line!
- January 22, 2013
You may or may not have heard of Jakob Nielsen. He is one of the best known “web usability gurus.” Almost nobody likes everything he has to say. A colleague who was particularly disgruntled by Nielsen’s advice once said to me, “If we designed a website to be the most useful website in the world, based on Nielsen’s guidelines, we’d have a website for dummies.” Hyperbole aside, I’ve remembered this for a long time.
Nielsen makes a lot of sense most of the time. I’m recommending one article of his in particular (recommended to me by Cary Hazelwood in IS&S): “How Users Read on the Web” (link below).
One of the reasons Nielsen irritates so many people is his research “based on averages.” In this article, for instance, he writes, “In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.” Why did only 16 percent read “word-by-word?” More to the point and in spite of our affection for those who read what we write “word-by-word,” are we putting our writing on the web for 16% of our visitors? We hope not.
So read Nielsen’s article “word-by-word” and learn how to craft prose that will resonate with the majority. Then let us know what YOU think by crafting a comment to this post.
How Users Read on the Web – by Jakob Nielsen (10/1/1997)