News & Updates

What’s Cool About The New allegheny.edu

The new allegheny.edu home page launched on April 8, 2013!

Welcome!

We’re excited to share with you the next evolution of Allegheny’s web site. The emphasis has been on making a site that is not only attractive but more easily navigable, scalable to all of the different devices that people use to connect to the web, and accessible to all. In brief points below, we’ll explain what problems we solved, why this matters, and why we believe this new home page design paves the way for even more excitement in the future.

Although the redesign is mainly confined to the college’s home page for now, we’ll be bringing the rest of our sites into the redesign over the summer. This is simply Phase 1 of an ongoing project, with the site continuing to evolve in the months ahead as we respond to opportunities to make it even better.

Thank you for sharing your feedback with us, and we hope you’re as excited about the redesign as we are.


Guiding Principles

1. Content First! Everything started with content.

We did an extensive audit of the content on the existing home page, traffic across all of Allegheny’s websites, heat-mapping on the home page (we can see exactly where users click), terms that users search for when using our on-site search feature, and then matched that data to our college-wide communications goals and to the Strategic Plan. It was only after we were satisfied with what the content needed to be that we moved on to wireframes and visual design.

This led to…

2. Simplified Navigation

Then…
The old 2007-era home page had over 150 links and no clear hierarchy. In plain English: users were overwhelmed with choices and didn’t know where to click.

In the new design…

We have clear top-level choices:

  • Admissions
  • Academics
  • About
  • Athletics
  • Alumni

At the very top of the site, we have links that will get you literally everywhere else on our site:

  • My Allegheny (the “home page” for on-campus audiences)
  • an A-to-Z listing of everything at Allegheny (if we left anything out, let us know)
  • a list of administrative offices
  • a list of student resources
  • and, finally, a search box.

Best of all, once this design is rolled out to the rest of the website, regardless of what site you’re on, those two main levels of navigation will be persistent across the whole of Allegheny’s web presence.

3. Design for Mobile First

Traffic to websites via mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) is growing rapidly across the internet in general, and even more so across higher ed. Our design process started with mobile-sized screens and moved up from there, utilizing modern web technologies (such as Responsive Web Design) to ensure that the website would scale in order to be usable on any modern web-enabled device. This enabled us to design not just for the specific devices of today, but to design for what the web will be. From your new phone to your new car with a touchscreen, to your HD TV, this new design should scale appropriately across all platforms, providing a full-featured experience across the board.

4. Accessibility

We’re also very concerned about optimizing our website for users with disabilities. Gone are elements of the page that rely on images-only for conveying a message. Even the large “sliders” at the top of the new home page are now plain text overlaid on top of a photo, making the text readable by screen readers and other assistive technologies.

5. Put our users first and reorganize content based on them.

In the past, we have tended to organize our web content based on our organizational chart. The problem there is that a new visitor to Allegheny’s website doesn’t know a thing about our internal structure. For example, gone is the “Administration” link, replaced by more easily discoverable links to a more robust Resources website.


What’s Next?

First of all, we’re excited to hear your feedback!

Moving forward, we will…

Roll out this design to all official Allegheny sites.

Academic departments, administrative offices, and everyone in between can benefit from the above enhancements — and more that are on the way. We will roll out the new design to all sites that are in our WordPress content management system over the summer of 2013.

Continue to develop supporting content and websites.

As we said at the top of this page, this is simply Phase 1, the cornerstone of a more awesome future web presence. A few examples…

We have a ton of opportunities to further develop the About Allegheny site, especially in light of our upcoming Bicentennial. We want the Resources site to continue to evolve as well. We have a long list of sites that can benefit from the more robust platform that a design like this provides. (Seriously. You should see our list.)

Continue to iterate on all of the above.

Perhaps the biggest change for those of us “behind the curtain” of this redesign is the fact that this introduces a more flexible framework on which to build new cool things. We’ve been very limited to this point by old visual design and old code. We have opportunities now to be more flexible, more innovative, and more bold — which all supports the goal of meeting the needs of our prospective and current students and their families. (And the cool thing is, when you do that, all other audiences benefit too!)


Finally…

This type of project can’t be done by just Jesse Lavery and Sean O’Connor. This was the collective work of Web Communications, the Communications Leadership Team, and countless others across campus who have offered their expertise, input, feedback, and support.

Thank you all!

Frequently Asked Questions About allegheny.edu

Thank you to everyone in the campus community who submitted feedback about the newly redesigned Allegheny College home page.

Feedback Summary, by percentage:
[chart data=”76,11,13″ labels=”Positive|Neutral|Negative” colors=”00a651|feda48|b0232a” type=”pie”]

Below, you will answers to some common questions that we received and a log of changes that we made in response to your feedback.


Frequently Asked Questions

It would be nice to highlight (event / program / initiative) in the large slider at the top of the page.

You’re reading our minds. :)

That’s exactly the idea behind the sliders: a flexible space in which we can highlight the latest and greatest happenings in the classroom, accolades the college receives, student research accomplishments, athletic achievements, alumni achievements, visit opportunities for prospective students, etc.

With the use of great photography and bold, typically non-Allegheny colors (pink and orange and green), we have an opportunity to shine a great spotlight on our awesome community.


The new home page highlights the (department name) Department. Will it always be something from that one department?

Great question. The “spotlight” will change each week. Our vision for that spot is that it will often feature an overview of a particular academic department, but we will also be able to highlight other initiatives and achievements (research accomplishments, interdisciplinary programs, etc.).


Can you add (name of website) to the A-to-Z list of campus resources on the Resources website?

As a result of some great help from the community, we added the following links on Thursday April 4th:

  • Backgrounds
  • Bookstore
  • Faculty Handbook
  • Help Desk
  • Honor Code
  • Informer
  • President’s Office
  • Provost, Dean of the College
  • Report a Concern
  • Scheduler
  • Statement of Community
  • Strategic Plan
  • Student Disability Services
  • Wufoo

Why doesn’t the home page have a link for (current student resource)?

On-campus audiences (current students, faculty, administrators, and staff) should think of My Allegheny as their home page.

The primary audiences for the main home page at allegheny.edu are those that are outside of campus: prospective students & their families, prospective faculty & staff, interested community members, etc.

Given that philosophy, the home page is intentionally an overview, rather than a comprehensive directory, with its simplified navigation acting as a hub to get to other audience-specific “home pages”:

  • My Allegheny, the very first link on the page, directing on-campus users to their most relevant needs
  • Admissions, for prospective students
  • Academics, for anyone interested in learning more about our programs
  • Alumni, directing alums to Alumni Affairs which itself is a hub to a robust collection of resources for our proud alumni
  • etc.

Regarding the “Photo of the Week”… Can it link to more information about the photo? Can people submit photos for consideration?

Yes and yes.

We’re changing the Photo of the Week on the home page to link to more explanation about the particular photo and also a gallery of past “winners”.

The Photo of the Week on the home page will actually be the same photo that we feature as our “Photo Friday” winner on Facebook and Twitter. (Just another way we’re trying to bridge the gap between different resources)


Other changes and fixes:

  • Changed the title of the academic spotlight to make it more clear that the “spotlight” will not always feature the same department. (Old: “Art Department Spotlight”. New: “Department Spotlight: Art”.) – (4/8/13)
  • Fixed a bug where the social media icons weren’t loading in Firefox – (4/8/13)
  • Made the “Give to Allegheny” links in the header and footer bolder – (4/5/13)
  • Added small sliders for “Make a gift online” and “About this site” – (4/5/13)
  • Fixed the links for “Offices” and “Student Resources” in the top bar – (4/4/13)
  • Fixed the link for the “Learn More” button in the By The Numbers section – (4/3/13)

New Feature: “People and Places” Imported to Department Blogs

This is the first post in a series that will take you behind the scenes and introduce you to a number of new features and enhancements that we built into the new WordPress theme that launched in October 2013.

For many years now, we in the campus community have had the pleasure of reading “People and Places” — a monthly digest of academic and professional accomplishments of our students and faculty. There are so many great stories in those monthly emails; the problem is, not enough people see or hear about these stories and accomplishments.

Introducing: “Academics, Publications & Research”

As of this summer, People and Places stories are now being featured on the News & Events website under the category Academics, Publications & Research.

Academics, Publications and Research

But wait – there’s more!

What if I told you we could auto-magically push that same content out to relevant department and office websites? Well we can!

When stories get added to the News website (by our staff – no extra effort needed from you, the WordPress editor), they also get tagged by department or academic interest area. If the story applies to more than one area, no problem. It gets tagged accordingly.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.14.55 AM

And then the magic happens. With no extra work, the same story gets published to the News website and any related site, based on the tags. Pretty cool.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.35.26 AM

Benefits

No longer are these amazing stories of academic accomplishment buried in the dark corners of an email inbox. They’re on the main Allegheny News website and they’re on the news feeds of any relevant department or office website. And it’s automated.

Win, win, win.

FormBuilder Shutdown

As per the announcement last month, Computing Services has shutdown the FormBuilder tool effective today.  We believe we have reached out to everyone who was still using the system to assist with the transition, but please contact us if we missed you on that communication.

The functionality in FormBuilder is replicated in two commonly used products on campus, Wufoo and Google Spreadsheets. Google Spreadsheets and Forms are available to all members of the campus community. If additional functionality is required, contact Jason Ramsey in AIS regarding access to Allegheny’s Wufoo form builder.

WordPress Guide

Web Communications is proud to announce the launch of the Allegheny College WordPress Guide. The WordPress Guide is a comprehensive resource for all WordPress Editors and covers topics from beginner to advanced. Topics covered in this guide include:

WordPress Basics

This section defines what WordPress is, and how Allegheny College uses WordPress for its family of websites. There are also some general guidelines for best practices when editing an Allegheny College WordPress page.

Pages and Posts

This section covers the basics of editing pages and posts, and defines what the differences between pages and posts are.

Text Formatting

This section gives basic guidelines and instruction for editing text in WordPress.

Images Guide

This section gives guidelines for proper use of images, and instruction on how to add media, alignment, and using the gallery or image slider.

Navigation and Menus

This section covers instruction for building and making changes to the WordPress site navigation.

Advanced WordPress

There are several guides included in the Advanced WordPress Guides covering several topics:

  • Tables
  • Breadcrumbs and hierarchies
  • Sidebar and Widgets
  • Shortcode
  • Basics of HTML

The WordPress guide is part of Web Communications continuing work to support editors and make Allegheny College’s web presence the best it can possibly be. If there are any questions, concerns, or issues regarding this guide, there is a suggestions form that can found in the guide and filled out.

/Web, Social Media, More!

Wer’e happy to announce several new and exciting additions are coming to the Web Communications Department, including the newly launched Web Communications website! This site will the go-to place to see what’s new with internet marketing at Allegheny College, including new websites, social media endeavors, web news, and web support. And visit often! The website will feature more, as more happens in Allegheny’s world of web.

Also new is our efforts to ramp up social. This means more interesting content going to all of our regular channels including Facebook and Twitter, and adding new social media channels including Instagram and Flickr. Be sure to follow Allegheny in all of our social media channels to know all of the going-ons here at Allegheny.

Going along with social media, we’re also looking to see how to get the Allegheny community more involved. Our first effort is Photo Friday and #ACGatorGram, where we’re asking for the photographers of Allegheny’s community to submit their photos to be showcased on all of our social media channels. Check out the photo submissions page for more info.

Important Website Security Update: June 30, 2015

Today (Tuesday June 30, 2015) Web Communications and ITS discovered and fixed a security issue with our web server. As a precautionary measure, the website was restored to a previous state.

Important:

No personal employee data was available on our web server. No personal data was exposed in any way.


For WordPress Editors

Any web changes that have been made since Friday 6/26 have been lost.
You will need to re-do any website edits that you may have made since Friday.

We know this stinks. So… We’re here to help. If you need assistance, please fill out the Web Change Request Form, mention “security update” in the comments, and we will prioritize your request and assist you as soon as possible.

Within the next week, you will be asked to reset your WordPress password.
While we do not believe that any passwords have been compromised, as a precaution we will be forcing a password change. We will send an email within the next week with instructions. No action is required yet.


In General

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation! We will communicate further as needed.

If you have questions for us, please don’t hesitate to let us know:

General Inquiries:
web@allegheny.edu (goes to both Jesse and Sean)

Jesse Lavery, Director of Web Communications:
jlavery@allegheny.edu

Sean O’Connor, Associate Director of Web Communications:
soconnor@allegheny.edu

Web Change Request Form

Welcome to the new Web Communications blog!

Welcome to the new Web Communications blog! This blog will be home to updates about WordPress, web content tips and tricks, announcements about new websites and/or web tools that we launch – and generally, “what we’re up to” in the Web Communications & Marketing office.

Thanks for following along!

Wufoo Users: Easier Form Embedding in WordPress!

If you’re a Wufoo user – and if you’re not, you should be – you now have an easier way of embedding Wufoo forms in WordPress. Let me walk you through it.

1. Get your “WordPress Shortcode”

Find your form in Wufoo’s “Form Manager” list, hover over it, and click on “Code”.

On the “Form Code Manager” screen, click on the “Embed Code” tab and copy the “WordPress Shortcode” from the box at the bottom of the screen.

2. Paste the shortcode into WordPress

In WordPress, simply paste in your shortcode and click “Update”/”Publish”. Voila!

Note: No need to change existing embedded forms. This is simply a new, hopefully easier way of working with forms!

But, I don’t have a Wufoo account…

Jesse told you in the last post that you should want an account on Wufoo.  He’s right.  Wufoo is awesome.  It allows you to set up a webpage with a form in it to collect reservations, take a poll, coordinate contact that otherwise would be a lot of paper or email to process.  But, if you’re an Allegheny student, faculty member, or employee, you have a tool right now at your finger tips in Google Apps called Google Forms that is darn near equally awesome.  Watch this quick introduction from Google about how easy it is to turn a regular Google Spreadsheet into an online form.

 

If you’re currently a WordPress editor and you’d like to embed a form in your site, contact Jason Ramsey in Murray Hall (AIS) to arrange for a Wufoo account or training.   Wufoo plays nicely with other systems like WordPress, so it’s our advice to use Wufoo for public-facing sites.  However, if you’re just looking for a quick way to collect information among your fellow students and staff, Google Forms is already there, waiting for you to use.