Tag Archives: website

Does tagging content make it easier to find with search? No.

I’ve received this question from several people now. Below are two videos from Matt Cutts who works on Google’s Webspam team explaining how tagging content mostly does not affect their search results. This also means that tagging largely will not affect how results appear on Middlebury’s site, since we use Google to provide our search results.


Tag Clouds

This does not mean that you shouldn’t tag content at all. Tags can still be useful for humans who want to find other posts and pages on a topic. However, if you want your page to be easier to find, your time is better invested in making sure that the content is well written, structured and relevant to a particular topic.

Site Search Satisfaction Survey

Please take a few minutes and let us know whether our website’s search feature is working: http://go.middlebury.edu/search/feedback.

Forward this exciting link to your friends and co-workers so that they may weigh in as well. If you think we’re missing an important question on the survey, leave a comment here and I’ll add it in.

Thank you for your time!

Google Search your Site(s)!

Editors on the Middlebury and MIIS sites can now add a search box to their site that returns results from the current site, or a list of sites you specify. When you click “Add” in the Edit Console in Drupal, you’ll see a new content type named “Google Search”. Continue reading

Website Performance: Pressflow, Varnish, Oh-My!

Executive summary:

We’ve migrated from core Drupal-6 to Pressflow, a back-port of Drupal-7 performance features. Using Pressflow allows us to cache anonymous web-requests (about 77% of our traffic) for 5-minutes and return them right from memory. While this vastly improves the amount of traffic we can handle as well as the speed of anonymous page-loads it does mean that anonymous users may not see new versions of content for at most 5 minutes. Traffic for logged-in users will always continue to flow directly through to Drupal/Pressflow and will always be up-to-the-instant-fresh.

Read on for more details about what has change and where we are at with regard to website performance.

Continue reading

LIS colleagues – tell us what you think!

We – the LIS Website Team – are asking for your help in assessing our new web presence. Before the makeover, many of you completed a survey about the old LIS website, which was very helpful to us. We’re asking you all to take a similar survey about the new LIS website now – whether you did the previous one or not! The results will help us as we plan for the continuing development of the site.

The survey is found here and shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete.

The deadline for completing the survey is this Friday April 2nd.

Thanks very much for your help,
Jim Beauchemin, Doreen Bernier, Jess Isler, Carrie Macfarlane, Ian McBride, Barbara Merz, Liz Whitaker-Freitas, Elin Waagen

Website Improvements #5: Search

When Middlebury first started using a Content Management System to organize its site in 2003 we added a local search engine for the site, operated by Atomz. This search engine wasn’t very popular, people weren’t finding the information they needed. At a meeting a couple years later, Barbara Merz remarked, “Why don’t we just get Google!?” So we purchased a Google Search Appliance (GSA) and set that up as our local search engine. Going into the Web Makeover Project, we thought we were safe on this subject. After all, the GSA was a Google project, it indexed all of our site’s content, we had put in Key Matches for the most relevant pages, people must be satisfied with this as our search engine.


The Strategy

After “the font is too small” and “it’s too hard to edit”, search results were the top complaint about our old site during the web makeover’s requirements gathering phase. We heard that people got better results about our site from Google.com than they did from the GSA. The designers we worked with to build the new site proposed a solution in three parts: Continue reading

Supported Web Browsers

For an updated list of currently supported browsers, see the Web Application Development website.

I was asked as a member of the LIS Website Team to put together a quick post on supported web browsers for our site. In general our guideline for supporting a browser is to keep support for it for as long as the browser’s manufacturer is supporting it. This means we will try our best to resolve issues with any browser that you can readily download from a manufacturer’s site, except for beta and pre-release versions.

These guidelines apply only to services supported by the Web Application Development workgroup. Other workgroups may have their own guidelines, for example Internet Explorer 7 is the supported browser for Internet Native Banner users.

These are the versions we support at the time of this post:

With the exception of Internet Explorer, each of these browsers have both Mac and PC versions.

I’m using internet explorer, which version should I use?

We recommend that none of our users browse the site with IE 6, but the browser still accounts for about 6.5% of our site’s traffic and we try to make sure that the site is mostly working for these users. If you are on-campus, your machine should have received an automatic update recently to move you to IE7, if you hadn’t applied that upgrade already. If you are on-campus and still using IE 6, contact the Helpdesk so your machine can be updated.

Most of the site’s features and visuals are the same in IE 7 and IE 8, but IE 8 does have a better rendering engine and will be able to support more features going forward. Users of Internet Native Banner should stay on IE 7, since that is the most recent version of Internet Explorer supported for use with INB. Others may choose to upgrade to IE 8.

What about older versions of Firefox?

The Mozilla Foundation makes available all older versions of the Firefox browser, but after a certain time stops applying security and stability updates to the browser. When that stops, it makes sense for us to stop supporting the browser for viewing and editing the site. Firefox is updated more frequently, and iteratively than Internet Explorer, making changes between its versions less severe and allowing site functionality to continue working in most cases. For this reason, we recommend always applying the updates to Firefox and sticking with the most recently released version.

There are specific issues with Firefox 3.0 that we know about on the site and are unlikely to resolve. If you’re using Firefox 3.0, please upgrade to one of the more recent versions.

Is there a different list of supported browsers for editing www.middlebury.edu?

In theory, no. We would very much like the editing experience to be the same across all of the browsers listed above. However, we are beholden to using a WYSIWYG editor that is known to have a few quirks in certain browsers. We are planning to upgrade the version of this editor shortly to address some of these issues, but need to make certain that modifications to it to allow you to browse for files in the site still work in the new version.

We don’t block you from using any browser to edit the site, but some people have noticed intermittent quirks when editing in Internet Explorer and Safari. At this time, we recommend that editors use Firefox since we have not heard of editing issue with this browser and it’s part of the default distribution package.

What about beta and pre-release browser versions?

You’re welcome to use these, and they may work, but we will not respond to bug reports about site functionality not working in a beta version of a browser. These are often caused by issues with the browser that are addressed before its final version is released and third-party systems like WordPress and Drupal will often release their own fixes to these issues when the final version of a browser is released. It’s not efficient for us to spend time addressing these issues as well.

This recently came up because the WordPress editing interface didn’t work in a development version of Google Chrome. The issue was resolved several days later in a new development build of the browser and is likely not something we would have been able to resolve. In circumstances like these, we recommend using one of the supported browser versions instead until the development version is updated to fix the issue.

I’m using one of the supported versions, but there’s an issue. What can I do?

People with a Middlebury College account can submit a bug report. This system allows us to communicate back-and-forth with you and gives you a view of the issue through a web interface. If you don’t have a Middlebury account, you can submit the Web Feedback form and we’ll get in touch with you via email.

If I haven’t answered your question here, leave a comment.