Chancellor's Web Standards Project

The Chancellor's Cabinet kicked off an initiative in August, 2010 to unify and improve UAA's web presence. You may have seen the memo emailed to the UAA community or the announcement in Green & Gold. The subsequent project is being conducted by staff from Advancement, Information Technology, and Disability Support (the WebPros team). This page is a clearing house of information about the initiative and project.

Chancellor's Memo (pdf) | Schedule | New Look | Reporting | Resources | FAQs

 

Schedule of migrations by department

This is an estimated schedule of migration times. For full sub-department details please see the migration spreadsheet. Generally, early adopters happen in 2010, academic departments happen in Spring 2011, administrative departments happen during Summer 2011, and Institutes happen in Fall 2011. If you have suggestions or concerns, contact the WebPros.

  • 2010 Fall
    • Early Adopters
  • 2011 Spring
    • January - College of Education
    • January - Community and Technical College
    • March - College of Arts and Sciences
    • April - College of Business and Public Policy
  • 2011 Summer
    • April - Administrative Units
    • July - Graduate School
    • August - School of Engineering
  • 2011 Fall
    • September - Centers and Institutes
 

Denali View, UAA's New Theme

WebPros are excited to present UAA's new theme, Denali View. Denali view is a 960px wide fixed layout with a simple color scheme that allows for pages to distinguish themselves. The left navigation is dynamic serving as a site map. UAA logo standards are incorporated. Searching is more specific. Use the thumbnails below to see full image previews.

Department Landing Page

This would be the first page in a site. The main difference is the larger header image.
denali-view-landing-sm

Department Content Page

This is a sub page. The image header works to unify the site with the landing page.
denali-view-content-sm

 

Annual Reports

Part of the Chancellor's inititiative is a way for departments to report on their web activities. WebPros are working with Cabinet, Deans, and Directors to identify an effective, agile, and sustainable method to use annual reporting as a means to continual improvement. Please send your suggestions to WebPros.

General guidance for leaders and supervisors is available in Maintaining a Website and Starting a Website.

 

Additional resources

This inititative stems from a number of needs in the marketing, accessibility, and technology fields. The links below refer you to the source materials that help define the guiding standards for this initiative.

 

Frequently asked questions about the project

This is a list of answers to the most common questions. WebPros welcomes any discussion and ideas about UAA's web sites.

What are we doing?

UAA is consolidating public websites for academic and business units to a more consistent institutional offering. This means sites that had addresses like http://somesite.uaa.alaska.edu  are  moving to addresses like www.uaa.alaska.edu/somesite . The sites that fall within www are maintained through “the CMS”, a content management system called CommonSpot.

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How are we doing it?

Staff from WebPros will work one department at a time according to the published schedule to assist moving content into the new templates. Existing CMS sites just get a face lift and maybe some new imagery. Non-CMS sites move their existing content into a CMS site.

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Are we getting a new CMS?

No. This is just a face lift and consolidation to UAA’s existing CMS software which is already heavily used and supported.

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Why are we doing it?

The Chancellor’s Cabinet supports this initiative to achieve the following goals

  • Consistent user experience for web based customers
  • Common skill set for web publishers and developers
  • Compliance with federal disability standards
  • A new look and feel for public UAA websites
  • Start an annual process of sustained continual improvement through rating and review

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When are we doing it?

Migrations will likely start in November, 2010 with early adopters. WebPros will then visit departments according to the published schedule. Please be aware of and give feedback on your scheduled migration time. The migration should be complete by November, 2011. (top)

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How do I as a supervisor submit my yearend report to the chancellor’s cabinet?

Please send your suggestions to WebPros.

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Do I have to move into the CMS? What if we don’t want to move?

Tier I & II departments have to move their main website into the CMS. Custom applications that require special consideration can use UAA hosting. Outsourced or very special websites require approval from Advancement.

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I’ve heard the CMS is hard to use. Is that true?

The CMS is easier to use than ever since the release of version 5 and some major work done by IT Services in Jan, 2010. The CMS is different than traditional web publishing (FrontPage, DreamWeaver, etc.). Its advantage is that it is easier for lay people to maintain content. The disadvantage is that certain UAA constraints are enforced; like layouts, fonts, and other standards. Experienced web developers can get deeper level of technical access for more advanced design. Examples of deeper access are HTML access and backend access for custom coldfusion.

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What are the new templates?

The new templates are designed by advancement, approved by the chancellor’s cabinet, and instrumented in the CMS by IT Services. The new templates use a fixed layout that is 960 pixels wide. The templates are designed to be visually simple allowing lots of design flexibility to departments. New left navigation exposes a whole site to a user from any page. Image headers make a bold statement to new visitors.

See the template previews online

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Why is the new template’s layout fixed? Why don’t we use a flow layout?

UAA uses (and will likely continue to use) a fixed width layout to provide a more readable experience. Flow layouts tend to look vastly different on different monitor resolutions. It’s common in the web industry to design fixed layouts for the lowest common denominator monitor which was 800x600 pixels for our existing template and will be 1024x768 pixels in the new template. 1024x768 is a pretty standard size for laptops purchased in the last few years. So, the bad news is that you won’t get “full screen” flow layout in the CMS, but the good news is the new template will give you 200 more pixels of width to work with.

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The migration schedule does not work for my department. What can we do?

Please contact web_team@uaa.alaska.edu with your scheduling suggestions.

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Can I use this time to overhaul my website?

No. Please note that the scope of this project does not include a redo of each website, only migration of content AS IS. Please see “Starting a Website” and “CMS Consultation Sessions” on the /webpublishing site if you would like to visit major changes to your content. The reporting and maintenance process will assure that your website improves continually rather than during an expensive “overhaul”

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What about this “other site” we have?

Contact webpros@uaa.alaska.edu with your questions about deviating from this plan.

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What about all of our marketing and printed materials that uses our website address? What about broken links to our old site?

Existing CMS sites will keep the same web addresses. Sites moving from hosting to the CMS will have their old site redirected to their new home page. So, existing print materials will still be valid. All new print materials and publications should start to use the new website address http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/SomeSite. If you have more refined suggestions about how to redirect visitors to your new site we can explore that during the scheduled migration time.

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How can I get training or consultation on the CMS?

IT Services provides 6 one hour blocks per week reserved for training or consultation. During that time we can work on anything in your CMS site that needs to be accomplished. Larger trainings and work sessions can be arranged, but are generally not as effective as one-on-one time.

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How can I get technical support for the CMS?

The IT Services Call Center can answer questions about using the CMS to publish content. Most “how to” questions can be answered on the first call. See also “How can I get training or consultation on the CMS?”

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I’m a serious web developer. Will the CMS constrain me?

Experienced web developers can be given deeper access to the CMS including; HTML editing, backend access for custom scripts, and even database access in special cases. Talk to the WebTeam about your needs. That said, you are constrained by marketing, technical, and accessibility standards. So you do not have the “clean room” freedom that you would have in an autonomous site.

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We have developed a custom application on our site that is important to our business. What should we do?

Most custom applications (for example datasets about some research project or an internal reporting site) will not need to move into the CMS. The CMS is intended to be “brochure” or “business card” sites that should identify important information about your department, work, resources, contacts etc. Linking between your custom site is useful. Examples of hybrid sites include

  • Justice Center combine their CMS page, a custom hosted research page, and a blogspot blog.
  • Information Technology shows a brochure of its services in the CMS and then has deep technical documentation in a knowledge base on a different website suited for technical writing
  • Advancement has a business card CMS site and conduct much of their mission through the Green & Gold webiste suited for marketing

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Why can’t I use a one-column layout?

The one column layout does not include the left navigation. So, one column layout pages give the user an inconsistent experience. Except for special cases approved by advancement, all WWW pages should use the two column layout with the navigation set to filter by their top level subsite.

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What happened to the three-column layout?

The old three column layout was implemented with a switch in custom meta data. WebPros recommends the two column layout for all pages. BUT, You can achieve a three (or more) column layout using the layout table in the content area. This method is superior because you have ultimate control of the third column and it is less expensive to maintain.

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What is header maker?

Header maker is a web based application built by IT Services that makes it simple for authors to create stunning page headers with images and photos without having to use a program like photoshop.

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What is a "business card site" or a "brochure site"?

A brochure or business card site is a site that gives an overview of your organization and the services it offers. A good example is the Information Technology site. It represents the IT department in a broad understandable way while leaving the technical details to knowledge base articles.

Here's a short list of things that might go in a business card site

  • Mission
  • Contact information
  • Online or fillable forms
  • Geographic location
  • Employee directory
  • Org chart
  • Methods and philosophies
  • Image slideshow, youtube videos, podcasts, or other showcase media
  • Academic departments
    • Course offerings
    • Degree offerings & requirements
    • Special research programs
    • Faculty Curriculum vitae
  • Admistrative departments
    • Services and costs
    • Service schedules and request forms
    • Employee biographies & skills

Some examples of information that may not necessarily go on your brochure site (but should definitely be linked or integrated with your brochure site)

  • Research data set downloads
    These should go in a hosting site or a virtual server
  • A complex knowledge base
    The CMS is not suited to work with this type of information easily
  • A fast moving blog or events calendar
    Third party services like blogger or google can be integrated into your CMS page
  • A social network
    The CMS can't replace facebook. The CMS can syndicate facebook RSS feeds
  • Course curriculum downloads
    Course curriculum should be in Blackboard which is specifically designed for this type of content distribution

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How can I get answers to questions not addressed here?

Email webpros@uaa.alaska.edu. We’ll review your question and record it here.

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