We are going to launch the new Middlebury website on Thursday February 4th!

We will have completed the core technology development that we need to launch the site, and the majority of major websites will be sufficiently converted to allow the new site to replace the old site. We intend to inform faculty, staff, and students on Monday February 1st that they should start looking at the new site in order to prepare themselves for the switch later in the week.

We are asking all departments, programs, and offices to keep refining their sites in these last days leading up to the launch, and to continue to send us your questions so that we can help you finish up your site. Please check here for the schedule of WorkSessions in LIB 105.

As you wrap up your site, let Tim Etchells (tetchell@middlebury.edu) know and we will as time allows review your site and offer helpful suggestions and advice. In addition, we’ll be running a link and spell checking program on the entire site within the next few days, and we will let you know what issues that program identifies.

We also ask that you limit the changing of URLs in your site, as other sites are making links to your pages, and when you change the URL, the links to your pages break.

Thanks again for all your hard work in getting us to this point. We are almost done!

Update

Thank you to everyone who has been working hard in getting us to this point with the new web site.  If you would like some inspiration, I recommend opening the old and new web sites in two different browser windows.  As an example, compare:

http://www.middlebury.edu/arts with http://midd2.middlebury.edu/arts/

or

http://www.middlebury.edu/campuslife with http://midd2.middlebury.edu/studentlife/

or better yet, compare your old site with your new one.

We are getting very, very close to being able to launch the new site. We have to finalize some designs and programming, and then do some final testing and clean-up work. Depending on how good our estimates are, you can expect to see the new site up and running in early February. Part of what we’ll be doing between now and then is testing the new site, and so you may hear again from us asking for help in identifying bugs, broken links, formatting problems, and other issues that inevitably crop up when one moves an entire website to a new platform.

Most people have completed their sites to the point where they feel comfortable launching.  We have scheduled some afternoon worksessions for small changes in content, and to receive feedback from people in Communications on the design of their pages. (If you are behind on just converting to the new platform, you can of course also use this time to do that work!)

Tuesday January 19th, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105
Wednesday January 20th, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105
Thursday January 21st, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105
Friday January 22nd, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105

Monday January 25th, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105
Tuesday January 26th, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105
Wednesday January 27th, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105
Friday January 29th, Drupal WorkSession, 2-5pm in LIB 105

This will be the last round of worksessions before we launch the site to the public!

When you have completed your site, please send an email to Tim Etchells ( tetchell@middlebury.edu ) and someone from Communications will review your site.  Please be aware that if you have not maintained the standards found in these guides ( http://midd2.middlebury.edu/questions ) someone from Communications may make changes to your site.

If you are for whatever reason unsure as to whether or not you will finalize your site for launch in the next week or so, we need to know this. Please update the status of your site by going to http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=tPrMaJqCP-MLZK0BFlerdNQ and say when your site will be finalized, and what resources you may need to finalize it for launch.

(Almost) Hello World!

We’ve had our heads down the last month with the web makeover project, and are taking a moment to let the community know where things stand, and when we will finally launch the new Middlebury website. In the last month, we have trained over 200 staff and faculty in the new web content management system Drupal that powers the new website, and this small army has converted nearly all of their old websites to the new format. We’ve programmed interfaces to allow for the various department, offices, and programs across the College to maintain this information, and we’ve created feeds from our various administrative systems to allow much of the website to remain up-to-date by subscribing to the authoritative information in these systems. Unlike many schools who have chosen to re-design their websites incrementally, we’ve chosen to do a wholesale replacement of the old site with a brand-new site. This is much more work up front, but we believe it is the right approach, since the site will be much more cohesive and we won’t be mired in website conversion efforts once we have completed this one big push.

We are getting very, very close to being able to launch the new site. We have to finalize some designs and programming, and then do some final testing and clean-up work. Depending on how good our estimates are, you can expect to see the new site up and running in early February. Part of what we’ll be doing between now and then is testing the new site, and so you may hear again from us asking for help in identifying bugs, broken links, formatting problems, and other issues that inevitably crop up when one moves an entire website to a new platform. (For those who want a sneak peek at the site, you can see it on campus at http://midd2.middlebury.edu and from off-campus at http://ezproxy.middlebury.edu/login?url=midd2.middlebury.edu

You may want to look at some of the following examples of new sites that we think are particularly good:

http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/physics

http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/chem
http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/geol

http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/lib/research/research_instr

http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/resources/visual
http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/resources/ctlr
http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/physics/facilities/obs

We look forward to finishing up this project so that we can move on to the exciting list of great projects that we have been ignoring in order to move us to this new platform. If you have any questions or comments, please use the comment feature below.

Style Guide

We have started a style guide for editing in Drupal.  Here is what we have, so far, but please visit the documentation for updates.

Layout

  • The “juice bar” feature is a convenient place for sharing stories about your department or office, but remember that it takes up quite a bit of space at the top of your page. Laptop users, without scrolling, will see the main navigation, your banner and the juice bar, and that’s about it. So, use the juice bar only if you have something important to say that can’t be handled in any of the other content areas.
  • Check out and follow the advice from White Whale’s Janie Porche on what kinds of content to use on different parts of the page using this Content Guide.

Text

  • When in doubt, check out the Middlebury Editorial Style Guide for usage questions: how to type a phone number, what to capitalize, etc.
  • Use as few typefaces as possible. For most of your text, use the regular paragraph style, and select just one or two display (headline) typefaces.
  • Avoid long banks of type when possible. If you must have a page with a lot of type, use lots of subheads.
  • Use display (headline) faces sparingly, and never for lengthy banks of type.
  • The “opening paragraph” style should only be on the home page of your site. And since it’s designed to appear below a banner which includes the name of your department/office, you don’t need to use a headline on top of this.
  • Use the “opening paragraph” text only for your opening paragraph. And that paragraph should be just three or four lines, and not more than eight.

Images

  • Don’t use images as decoration. Images should be chosen to accomplish something specific.
  • Make sure images are of reasonable quality, and sized appropriately. (No huge head shots! No tiny panoramas!)
  • To display a large number of images, use the photo gallery content type.

Color

  • Pick a color palette you like, and then stick with it for your entire site.

Banner Images and Content Creation

Pam Fogg has created a selection of background images to be used on department homepages, these images are available at – \\middfiles\orgs\WebMakeover\EVERYONE\Banner_Images

Please make your selection, then contact her with your choice of image via email ( pfogg@middlebury.edu ) so that your banner can be created.

There have been some questions around content, Creating Content for Your Web Page is the portion of the workbook that addresses content creation.  Also, please remember to use the Content Guide when making choices about where to place content on your page.

Work continues on the buildout of the new Middlebury.edu site, and we hope to see many of you at the worksessions over the next few weeks.

http://sites.middlebury.edu/webredo/2009/11/24/workshops-and-work-sessions-through-december-22nd/

Below is a list of examples of work that people have already put into their sites:

Homepages

http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/chem
http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/geol

Carousels

http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/resources_students/visual
http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/resources_students/ctlr

Image Galleries

http://midd2.middlebury.edu/academics/physics/facilities/obs (click on
the small image in the right sidebar)

Workshops and Work Sessions through December 22nd

Below are the workshops and work sessions that have been scheduled between Thanksgiving and Christmas break.  Please email the HelpDesk at HelpDesk@middlebury.edu to sign up for these offerings.

November 30th    10:30-noon    WebFroms in Drupal    LIB 105
November 30th    10:30-noon    WorkSession    LIB 220
November 30th    3:30-5pm    Profiles, FAQs, Sidebar and RSS Content    LIB 220

December 1st    10:30-noon    WorkSession    LIB 220
December 1st    3:30-5pm    WebFroms in Drupal    LIB 220

December 2nd    10:30-noon    WorkSession    LIB 220
December 2nd    3:30-5pm    WorkSession    LIB 105
December 2nd    3:30-5pm    WebFroms in Drupal    LIB 220

December 3rd    10:30-noon    WebFroms in Drupal    LIB 105
December 3rd    10:30-noon    WorkSession    LIB 220
December 3rd    3:30-5pm    Profiles, FAQs, Sidebar and RSS Content    LIB 220
December 3rd    3:30-5pm    Worksession    LIB 105

December 4th    10:30-noon    WebFroms in Drupal    LIB 105
December 4th    10:30-noon    WorkSession    LIB 220
December 4th    3:30-5pm    Profiles, FAQs, Sidebar and RSS Content    LIB 220
December 4th    3:30-5pm    Worksession    LIB 105

Attendance for the workshops is diminishing, so after December 4th we will only be offering scheduled WorkSessions.  We may be able to offer a small number of workshops during this time, please contact Joe ( jantonio@middlebury.edu ) with a topic you would like covered.

December 7-11th     10:30-noon    WorkSession    LIB 105
December 7-11th     3:30-5pm    WorkSession    LIB 105

December 14-15th     10:30-noon    WorkSession    LIB 105
December 14-15th     3:30-5pm    WorkSession    LIB 105

December 16-18th     9am-noon    WorkSession    LIB 105
December 16-18th     2-5pm    WorkSession    LIB 105

December 21-22th     9am-noon    WorkSession    LIB 105
December 21-22th     2-5pm    WorkSession    LIB 105

Content Guide, Check-in Reminder, Usability

A PRESENT FROM WHITE WHALE

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!

CHECK-IN REMINDER

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.

http://sites.middlebury.edu/webredo/your-ideas/web-makeover-check-in/

WHAT WILL YOUR VISITOR”S DO?

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.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dEZ5Nk8wbEZrYWt3T0xUaUdqQzF0MlE6MA

White Whale Presentation on Friday, Nov. 6th

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.

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