Category Archives: design

Wonder, Rewarded

Every year we solicit nominations from the local community for students, artists, and art benefactors whose support of the visual arts merits distinction, and we select several to honor at our Annual Dinner. The winners get feted and appreciated for an evening, and each receives a certificate. Articles in the paper, all that sort of thing. We let the world know that this crop of arts heroes has done something special, and we hope that each feels appropriately celebrated for his or her talent. Then we go about another year of wash, rinse, and retweet until the specter of the next Arts Awards season makes us wonder where all the time has gone and what happened to last year's winners and whether we made a difference in their lives to the extent that it would be worth trying to do it again this year. Continue reading

New WordPress Themes

New WordPress themes have been added to WordPress at Middlebury.  This blog has been updated to use Translucence, an interpretation of theme designs drafted by White Whale as part of the Web Redo project.

Translucence, like ShadowBox, is a theme series that includes a number of variations and options for layout.  This blog is currently configured to use a flexible width such that the width of the blog will vary with the size of your browser window.  As well, it is configured to include  2 right sidebars (instead of a single left and right sidebar).

Feedback/comments/suggestions welcome.

Content Guide, Check-in Reminder, Usability


During the WorkSessions, we have heard questions like “What should go in a sidebar?” and “Is this something that should go in the Carousel?” To help us answer these questions, White Whale has provided us with a content guide, and they have turned it into a VISUAL.  Attached is a content guide that will help you answer some of these questions, and make choices as to the types of content that can be displayed in different locations on the page, and will help us, as a community, to create a consistent look-and-feel throughout the site.

Thank you Janie and Tonya for putting this together!


Thank you to everyone who has already filled out the check-in form. We have heard from some but not everyone, so this is a reminder to fill out the form so that we can make an informed decision before Thanksgiving break.


December 15th is right around the corner.  Between this date and the launch, we will be looking at the site to see if we have made an intuitive, useful resource for our community.  We have already heard questions like “Where is the link to WebMail?” and “How do I find Faculty Office hours?”  What we would like to hear from you is how people use YOUR site.  What information do they need to find?  How will it be used?

We have created another simple form, where you would chose the constituent (or add one) and write a task that a visitor would need to complete.  We’ll gather these and incorporate them into the user testing.

Designs for Academic Departments and Faculty Profiles

Per Mike’s last post on the “glass wall” phase of feedback, we are offering links to design mock-ups for three academic departments and a faculty profile. A few notes on these:

These designs are not supposed to mirror actual content or the specific links and menu items that a department might use. White Whale did model it using real content, but making the specific content and menu decisions will be up to each department. Instead, the designs represent a range of options that a department/program might choose from, including different color palettes and navigational tools. Even the three departments used as samples might choose completely different options. And these are just flat images, not actively linking sites.

The three departments represent a range of possible design set-ups. The Chemistry site is the most bare-bones in terms of interactive tools – see the bottom of the page for an area called “the carousel,” a horizontally-scrolling content area that can be updated regularly with upcoming events, announcements, stories or links. The Economics page adds a top navigation nicknamed “the juice bar,” with tabs for updating content. The Film & Media Culture page uses both the top and bottom interactive navigation, and highlights how you might embed video into the pages. There are also various other boxes that can be used in all the designs for highlighting announcements, events, deadlines, or any other updates.

The faculty profile page (thanks to Nick Muller for being the prototype!) shows how faculty might display information. We’ll be adding areas for Recent Accomplishments (publications, awards, grants, etc.) and the ability to embed a feed from another site (like a faculty blog). We will also be basing a staff profile based on this template.

Please look these over and leave comments below – again, we’re not looking for “I love/hate it!” style comments, as much as hoping you might pose useful questions about what might be left out, what functionality you might want that’s not clearly here, etc. Every department and faculty/staff member will have some control on how their sites appear, but it will be based on the options here, so hopefully this will be useful as you work forward in adding content into Drupal and helping to build the site in the coming months!

The Glass Window of Feedback

We’re entering a frantic phase of the web makeover process where each week we will be receiving sets of designs from our design partner, and quickly reviewing them, making suggestions, and ultimately approving them. Throughout this project, we have tried to be as inclusive and transparent as we possibly can, in the belief that by including the community in the process, the end result will be better. At this stage, we have to shift this approach somewhat in order to move the process along at a reasonable pace. To that end, we will continue to post proposed designs to the project blog, and to be open to comments on those designs. We will however only offer very short windows where feedback can be incorporated into our feedback to our design firm, and in some cases, we may only have time to read and react to feedback after the designs have been approved. In those cases, we may be able to tweak the approved designs as we convert those designs into actual web pages. We liken this process to what you may have observed at a TV show or at the Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Factory.  There is a glass wall where you can see what’s going on, but your voice in the process is muffled by the glass wall that allows the TV show or the ice cream makers to do their work without interruption or distraction. A central tenet of our project has been that getting the new site launched on a new web authoring platform is the beginning, not the end, and so while we are somewhat dismayed that our ambitious schedule is forcing us to be slightly less inclusive during this phase, we also find solace in knowing that the site will continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of our community.