Skip Navigation and You

Who needs a tagline when you have us?

On Governance

February 10th, 2011 by Bob Crisler

I’ve been thinking a lot, as I drive between the university and my home in Ashland, about Mark Greenfield’s blog post from last month declaring 2011 the “Year of Web Governance in Higher Education.” It reminded me of a long-ago debate on the <uwebd/> list that centered on the phrase “Let a thousand flowers bloom,” in which one position advocated a laissez-faire approach to higher ed web development, in polar opposition to any notion of “web governance.”

Sadly, years later, that debate continues to bubble on <uwebd/>, as if nothing had changed … as if, for instance, the rigid but predictable interface of Facebook had not prevailed over the chaos of MySpace.
Read the rest of this entry »

Video: the last frontier of media standardization

August 27th, 2010 by Bob Crisler

The battle over online video standards has been going on for almost twenty years now. Apple demonstrated QuickTime in late 1991, showing the famous Ridley “Bladerunner” Scott-directed ’1984′ advertisement that introduced the Macintosh in a puny little postage-stamp-sized window on a Mac screen. I remember being astounded by that little video; the very idea that a computer could play video, however unimpressive it looked or sounded, was nothing less than a breakthrough in 1991. So I played that video and several others — “Sagittal Head” and “Saturn 5 launch” over and over — and was dazzled.

A year or so later, Microsoft Windows got similar technology; so similar, in fact, that it turned out that a lot of it was cut-and-pasted QuickTime code. The resulting litigation was not settled until 1997, when Bill Gates famously appeared above a beleaguered Apple conference, as Orwellian in appearance as the screen-bound antagonist from the ’1984′ ad, and announced MS’s continuing commitment to producing the Mac version of MS Office, as well as a $150M investment in Apple, overshadowing as symbol (a public vote of confidence in the company) the substance in the settlement of the first major skirmish on digital video patents.

What isn’t well-known to this day is that hidden at the center of the public rapprochement between Apple and Microsoft was a thorny issue that persists: who will control the digital formats on which video content is delivered? Who owns the video format?

Read the rest of this entry »

On Design

March 19th, 2010 by Bob Crisler

I thought long and hard about what to call this post; what to title it. Well, “long,” as in “long by the standards of the abbreviated attention span of life on the ‘Net.”

So for now, as I write this, it has the beguiling, slightly ponderous title ‘On Design,’ as if it’s going to reveal to you some big truths about design. If you were misled by the title, this is where I tell you to hit the ‘Back’ button; you simply must learn to use your time more wisely.
Read the rest of this entry »

Google Analytics – WDN Update

February 26th, 2010 by smeranda

In January, we released some automatic Google Analytics tracking that every department could take advantage of. This includes outgoing link usage, social media shares, and page rating among others.

As a follow-up to the January WDN meeting, where I first presented this, I have put together a video outlining how to get the data from Google Analytics:

Expect more Google Analytics updates in the coming months!

College Navigation Update – January 2010

January 12th, 2010 by rsimonsen

Here is a new document analyzing the navigation taxonomy currently in use at UNL. As always, this document is subject to be out of date at any time but it should be close to reflecting where we are currently.

College Navigation January 2010

The “Can’t Have It” Gap

October 28th, 2009 by Bob Crisler

Last night we conducted a focus group for an app we have under development, an online replacement for our printed Undergraduate Bulletin. As the last bulletins to be printed have come off the press already, there’s excitement mixed with urgency in the project. We’ve got to get it substantially right, and right away. The best way to determine if you’re on the right track is to ask, and we had a unique opportunity to ask in dozens of different ways last night courtesy of some generous and brilliant UNL students.

In the Background

In between attending this year’s High Ed Web conference (Mark Greenfield’s ‘The Kids are Alright’ session and a subsequent UNL-Greenfield conversation on the airport shuttle created a particular itch in my brain), picking up a new copy of The Cluetrain Manifesto at Mark’s urging (the 10th Anniversary Edition has been rewritten and recalibrated), and conducting last night’s focus group (along with Seth Meranda and Meg Lauerman), I am more convinced than ever that we are out of step with the students we are here to serve.

Read the rest of this entry »

Content Still King for Prospectives

June 10th, 2009 by Bob Crisler

The college recruitment consultancy Noel-Levitz has just released a research report, “Scrolling Toward Enrollment: Web Site Content and the E-Expectations of College-Bound Seniors,” that provides ample data points that might help your position in continuing to shift the attention (and resources) of the university to the importance of quality online communications within the recruiting process.

The report, to those involved in the day-to-day work of creating and publishing content on a university website, is probably not all that surprising. But there’s a big difference between opinion and facts in our discussions with those who control budgets and therefore the mix of media carrying our messages to prospective students. Facts, in audience research terms, require adequate sample sizes (1000 in this study) and sound methodology, such that one can say with confidence that a given result would be repeated if the study were repeated. I’ll highlight a few of those facts in the paragraphs to follow, and what they might mean for the continuing development of the UNL website.

First, as the title of the paper suggests, the idea that users don’t read long-form text online, repeated so often that it’s attained a Gospel status, is debunked, at least for this audience. Please, read on. :)
Read the rest of this entry »

College Navigation — as of June 2009

June 9th, 2009 by rsimonsen

Here’s a pdf document showing the basic building blocks that colleges are currently using for their primary navigation bold links.

There are basically five areas that make up most of the primary navigation color coded as follows:

Red text – About the College/General Information
Green text – Students
Blue text – Faculty and Staff
Purple text – Departmental Info/Centers and Programs
Orange text – Alumni

The departments are listed first in alphabetical order showing their main navigation links color coded from the above list. Then the main areas (About, Students, etc.) are presented showing all the various sublinks that are found among all the colleges to show an all encompassing list of what everyone currently has down to the sublink navigation level.

Finally, at the very bottom of the document are a few miscellaneous primary navigation items that are unique to one or two colleges each.

Hopefully, by analyzing this information colleges and perhaps departments can use it to make decisions to help create more consistency with colleagues across campus. The goal being to create intuitive navigation structures that users are able to grasp quickly when moving between various colleges and departments within the UNL web environment. 2009 Redevelopment Rollout Presentation

May 28th, 2009 by Bob Crisler

For much of the past three weeks, we in the UNL Web Developer Network and in University Communications Internet and Interactive Media have been on a 2009 Rollout Tour, giving presentations to and having discussions with campus groups in preparation for transitioning UNL websites to the new 2009 template, slated for release in August 2009.

As these things go, though, not everyone who is interested in the subject can show up to a given meeting, and a number of university faculty, staff and students are simply out of town for the summer. So I’ve made the presentation available here as an MP4 video (complete with stammering narration). Thanks for your interest, and I look forward to your continuing engagement in the development of

4000 People Thinking: The and You Survey

May 28th, 2009 by Bob Crisler

In early spring of 2009, while sitting among boxes in UComm Internet and Interactive Media’s temporary storage-closet location while our new offices here at Wick were being completed, Seth Meranda and I began formulating a comprehensive survey of our website’s audiences. The survey was intended, as a first priority, to solicit feedback for the in-progress site redevelopment process, based on our 2006 survey instrument. At the same time, we’d ask the users who’d completed what we called the “Design Survey” to continue on to a longer survey to take the audience’s temperature on media use, preferences, etc., as related to use of the web generally and of in particular.

The “Design Survey” and “ and You” were programmed to move seamlessly from an internally-developed instrument to the LimeSurvey-based and You (thanks, Brett); users simply kept clicking through. The significant interest in the redesign process translated to a strong response to and You that we may not have been able to attract otherwise; nearly 4,000 people ended up completing both surveys.

Surveys of this type are not a “vote;” they’re an opportunity for users to provide input to, and influence, a group of professionals from across campus whose expertise lies in communication, visual design and user interface and interaction design. The survey was intended to provide focus to the final ‘leg’ of the journey from 50 designs to one … the distillation of best elements from three designs to one design over the span of a single month.

Qualitative results, especially, had to be interpreted, as there are almost as many conflicting opinions as there are opinions. It was the first order of business for the final design team to identify broad themes in the qualitative responses.

It was the job of the design committee to discuss, argue and implement (yes, in some cases also reject) those opinions. Whether or not a and You respondent sees a specific response to their issue in the final design, the feedback led to spirited debate and discussion that in all cases improved the final product. If you took the time and effort to provide feedback to us, thank you.

Design Quantitative
Design Qualitative and You