Minions. Many of us think of this word as meaning “subordinate” or Latin for “student-worker who does all the junk work.” A minion can also be defined as a “minor official.” Let’s face it, in higher ed our content contributors are all minions—whether they are student workers/interns that help us gather information or faculty and staff across our campuses that are “minor officials” in each of their own departments.
As Web professionals we have varying levels of editorial control over website content depending on each institution’s structure. Some of us have final approval of all content before it is published for all the world to see while others are merely left to post whatever we are handed. In both cases, and every variation between, we all experience #headdesk moments.
Providing training to our content contributors helps everyone understand how to better write content that will benefit site visitors.
by Aaron Baker
by Tom Black
Wordpress is a great open source web application for creating dynamic websites. You can spend minutes getting it on line and in addition, create custom themes using it's very intuitive API. However, creating your own custom theme can be very time consuming with unnecessarily repetitive tasks. Starting each Wordpress project with a framework template system lets you hit the ground running so you can leave the heavy development work behind. In this talk, I will explain my approach to developing a custom child-theme from a bare-bones WordPress framework that merges Aaron T. Grogg’s Boilerplate WordPress theme and the 960 Grid System. The Boilerplate theme already combines HTML5 Boilerplate, the Starkers theme, and Eric Meyer’s Reset stylesheet while the 960 grid system remains independent. I have merged the 960 Grid System into the Boilerplate theme to make a new WordPress bare-bones theme that leaves the designer with one task: applying the design to the stylesheet.
Analytics: they are a great business tool. They help you measure performance. They help you profile users. They help you gauge popularity. But, analytics are more than just pages of hit counts and bounce rates. They can also be a very important design tool that can ensure you make educated, informed decisions on how your site evolves over time.
As sites age, the act of redesigning serves a necessary, but costly role. It can frequently be a much better use of resources to constantly be realigning instead. That is - making a consistent stream of smaller, incremental changes over time. To do this, information in your analytics can help resolve tools that are failing, falling out of use, or not being understood. We'll take a look at how you can extract context from Google Analytics in order to plan changes to your web site's home page and templates.
by J Rex
The website isn’t the only place students expect your college to be online today. Social networks, such as Facebook, are top hangouts and students expect you to participate. To make matters even more complex, the mobile web is now in the pockets of your perfect demographic. What was once considered “web content management” for websites has now become the central management point for all online content — web, social networks, and mobile devices. Come find out how to manage all these channels without going crazy!
The web life is a great life, until you get hacked! Do yourself a favor and sit in on this presentation for a web security health check, just for higher education web professionals. See for yourself, the risks associated with the hottest web tools that we all love to use.
Policy. What’s the point? See how two rival universities less than an hour away from each other take varying approaches to social media policies and achieve the same goal. This session will discuss ways to manage social media, factors to consider when implementing a social media policy and how to evaluate the effectiveness of it all.
If you’re using social media but feel like you’re spinning your wheels or you’re not sure how to get started with social media, you’ll want to attend this session and discover how to strategically use social media to further your institution’s goals.
by Sara Clark
Academic websites are a key component of the recruitment process. We know our future students (and their parents) are looking at these websites when choosing a college or university. So, why do these sites often fail to make the grade? The presentation will share how Missouri State University was able to systematically address our academic websites by gathering support, obtaining funding and developing a workflow that involved both content and marketing experts. I'll also share templates that helped structure the content gathering and design process, making it easier and faster to obtain great results.
by Todd R
Have you ever felt you were losing control over your web projects? Have your web projects begun managing you? This presentation will share a few tips, tricks and techniques to regain control and help you better manage your current web projects. Specific talking points include: Software Tools; How to Find Your Priorities; Project Management and Tracking.
This presentation is made by experiences from years of website makeovers, web application builds and all the other day-to-day operations involved in managing enterprise level websites.
We'll use this as a vehicle for demonstrating some of the rich user experiences you can add with jQuery, with an eye towards using it to work around limitations in your CMS or existing site architecture design decisions.
by Georgy Cohen
Storytelling boils down to meaningful and engaging communication, and I see effective storytelling as an essential component for the success of any organization. I believe we should all evaluate our roles in the higher ed web from a storytelling context - asserting the need for clear messages, thoughtful narratives - be they in code or prose - an audience-centric approach and the community’s investment in the story being told.
by Tom Black, Michael Fienen, Jason Woodward, Sara Clark, Susan Ragland, John Rogerson, Brent Passmore, Drew Stephens, Bryan Fendley, J Rex, Aaron Baker, Andrew Careaga, Georgy Cohen, Carrie H. Phillips, Todd R, daniel spillers and Brad Mitchell
We're taking it back to the mat this year in a revisit of the wildly successful SMACKDOWN 2010. All of our speakers in one room answering tough questions about making it work in higher ed. Unscripted and unpredictable. BE THERE!
"Everyone has a plan - until they get punched in the face." - Mike Tyson
Strategy and planning are critical. Then, there is the business of getting things done. Overcoming obstacles. Execution.
Let's talk shop. Five years into a web design gig at a university communications office, I've collected a sizable bag of tips, tricks, and general advice for those in the technical trenches. Design, multimedia, html/css, software, ...you name it.
Let's dance. Interruptions and/or heckling encouraged.
Online video should be an essential part of your digital marketing toolkit; not only is it the fastest growing mobile application, it is also the fastest growing medium in the history of the world. So what are you waiting for?
In this session you’ll learn everything you need to know about creating high-quality videos in a short amount of time and with little cost. We’ll cover basics like necessary equipment and setup costs; how to interview students, faculty and alumni to get authentic answers and quotes; and finally outline best practices for utilizing free tools like YouTube, Vimeo and iTunes U to host and spread your videos via social media outlets and your institutional websites.
by Aaron Baker
Information architecture is how we organize and label content and navigation for large websites. In an ideal world, doing information architecture is a lot like designing and building a designer kitchen for a newly-constructed home. But let's face it, in Higher Education our house is at least 100 years old, the major appliances don't match, and nobody can agree on which drawer to put the silverware in.
Best practices in information architecture don't necessarily prepare us for the inevitable political battles regarding organization, labeling, and navigation. We work for large, bureaucratic organizations with complex and illogical organizational structures that our users may never understand. We deal with eccentric and sometimes unknowladgeable individuals. Given this reality, how are we supposed to organize large amounts of content, create common vocabularies, and advocate for consistent labeling in order to produce a positive user experience?
I will cover basic information architecture principles and elaborate on how these are usually applied to higher education websites. Then I will offer some tips and tricks on how you can measure user engagement in order to better inform you and your campus decision makers about what's working and why. Finally we'll open the discussion to how we can adapt what's best into what works for our own institutions.
Ultimately, a successful information architect in higher education is one who can successfully collaborate with campus leaders and navigate through university politics.
When the going gets tough, the tough get blogging. That could be the motto for Andrew Careaga, director of communications at Missouri University of Science and Technology, who managed the university's "Name Change Conversations" blog during Missouri S&T's name change - a process that was controversial and disruptive for many students and alumni. During the name change process, the blog served as a source for official information as well as a forum for lively, sometimes heated, discussions about the move. In this session, Careaga will share the rationale for creating the blog, lessons learned and ideas for applying those lessons to other controversial situations.
If there's one thing I learned in my recent journey to replace our old, mediocre campus map with something more dynamic, it's that adding interactivity to your static campus map doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Using the Google Maps API, a dash of jQuery, and other free tools, you can create a truly interactive, and useful, map experience for your users.
In this session I'll talk about how to create map tiles out of a digital illustration, how to overlay those tiles onto a Google map, create map markers, and add other interactive features, such as search and directions. I'll talk about some challenges I encountered along the way as well as plans for future improvements.
Mobile first is employing a strategy where we design and develop our websites to be optimized for small screen devices first, and then build out the website for larger screen resolutions after. This session will demonstrate this strategy and discuss the various methodologies available to practitioners in achieving mobile first sites. Given the inevitable and growing number of users who visit your school website using mobile devices, adopting mobile first goes someway to accommodating these trends while not reinventing the wheel.
21st–22nd July 2011