Accessibility Updates Coming to hope.edu

You may be aware of the ongoing efforts to address website accessibility as it pertains to the Hope College website (hope.edu) and our other web properties. In addition to the new Web Accessibility Policy and Web Accessibility Training recently offered, we will soon be introducing a revised design and other enhancements to the Hope website to address several issues related to color contrast and further optimizing the site to be used more effectively by screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Tip: if you notice a hope.edu webpage not loading correctly, try clearing your browser’s cache

You’ll notice these design improvements taking place in the coming days and weeks. Please note that web content editors will not be required to take additional steps to implement these updates to your department websites, as long as your site is using the new template. If you do notice something that does not seem to be functioning correctly, please let us know right away.

We always welcome your questions and feedback as we work to make the Hope website an inclusive and accessible space for all of our visitors.

The new hope.edu accessible web design
The new hope.edu accessible web design
The new Hope College Calendar design
The new Hope College Calendar design

New options for website news content

In addition to our behind-the-scenes change to improve Open Graph tags, we also made a more noticeable change that some of you may have already seen on your websites.

As you may remember, Hope’s web pages have had the option to display in the right sidebar the most recent hope.edu/news press release associated with a department or office:

Now, this field will display the most recent hope.edu/news item associated with a department or office. This may include a press release, blog post, news story from an external media source, tweet, Instagram photo or YouTube video. Here’s an example of what it looks like with a tweet:

We hope that by expanding the potential pool of media items to draw from, this content will be more current and relevant to students, and will showcase the variety of content available on our news page.

A few things to note:

  • If a department doesn’t have the news option enabled on their site, this change will not affect their pages.
  • If a department would rather that certain media types not appear, we can turn off any, or all, of them (we recommend leaving them all on).
  • This field will continue to pull only hope.edu/news content, which is curated by Public Affairs & Marketing. In many cases, there’s content out there that we choose to not add to our news page, which means that it won’t show up in that field. It also won’t automatically display the latest post from, for example, a blogs.hope.edu account.

We think you’ll like the change!

Improving Open Graph Tags on hope.edu

We’ve recently made a “behind the scenes” update to our hope.edu pages and sites within OU Campus that greatly improves the metadata code provided for open graph tags. Open Graph is a technology first introduced by Facebook in 2010 that allows integration between Facebook and its user data and a website. By integrating Open Graph meta tags into our page’s content, we can identify which elements of our pages we want to show when someone share’s a page on Facebook or Twitter.

By implementing this, Facebook no longer has to guess what image to pull when our pages are shared, for example.

Facebook describes it this way:

The Open Graph protocol enables developers to integrate their pages into Facebook’s global mapping/tracking tool Social Graph. These pages gain the functionality of other graph objects including profile links and stream updates for connected users.

OpenGraph tags often look something like this:

<meta property="og:title" content="Example title of article">
<meta property="og:site_name" content="example.com website">
<meta property="og:type" content="article">
<meta property="og:url" content="http://example.com/example-title-of-article">
<meta property="og:image" content="http://example.com/article_thumbnail.jpg">
<meta property="og:image" content="http://example.com/website_logo.png">
<meta property="og:description" content="This example article is an example of OpenGraph protocol.">

Cool, right? If none of this makes sense, all you need to know is our hope.edu web pages will look better when shared on social media sites like Facebook.

NEW: OU Campus Help Videos

Did you forget how to find the login screen? Still not quite sure if you’re placing images correctly? Need to make a new page, but you’ve never started one from scratch before?

Believe it or not, you’re not the only one with these (and other) questions. You’re not alone. And help is here!

We compiled a list of most common questions and put together a new library of video tutorials that will guide you through the details of using OU Campus to edit content on the Hope College website. Here’s an example:

(That voice you hear is Allison Johnson, one of the superstar students in our office.)

Here’s a list of topics:

  • Logging in
  • Understanding your dashboard
  • Creating new pages
  • WYSIWYG toolbar
  • Gadget menu
  • Assets vs. snippets
  • How news works
  • Page properties
  • Accordions
  • Banner images
  • Calls to action
  • Uploading and inserting photos
  • Photo galleries
  • Tables
  • Inserting videos
  • Page check
  • Workflow


Check out the videos
today! And remember, you can always refer to the OU Campus Users’ Guide (PDF).

Of course, you’re still welcome to contact us if you have any questions!

Kill Your Jargon

This post provides a brief overview of how to enhance problem-based experiences within a meaning-centered paradigm while strategizing metacognitive decision-making across cognitive and affective domains. By the time you reach the end, you’ll understand how to disaggregate assessment-driven manipulatives for our 21st century learners.

No, I don’t know what any of that means. In fact, I hope it’s complete nonsense, because I copied it out of an educational jargon generator. Jargon, like the kind you find above, generally falls into three different categories. You should avoid them all when you write — and especially when you write for the Hope website.

One type of jargon is industry insider terminology — the kinds of words from my first paragraph. Closely related to these words are industry-specific acronyms and initialisms: If you don’t know what a LYBUNT is, you must not spend much time talking to donors in advancement, development or fundraising.

Another type is words that are so commonly used that they’ve been pretty well emptied of their meaning. These are a bit trickier to recognize: “Engagement.” Yes, but what kind of engagement? “Convening.” Who’s coming together and why? “Impact.” What sort of impact?

Finally, there are those big words that you use when you really mean something simple. What do you mean when you talk about ‘scaling up’ or ‘taking something to scale’ or ‘maximizing’? Right, you mean ‘make it bigger.’ ‘Conceptualize’? Oh, you mean ‘think about.’

Here are three reasons using jargon is a bad idea:

  1. Jargon obscures your message.
    When we write, we write to be understood. Your words should make it easier for people to understand you — never harder.
  2. Jargon makes people feel like outsiders.
    We’re in this together, really, and that means we should speak a common language. Don’t use language that excludes, condescends, or reminds people that they’re not in the know.
  3. Jargon makes you sound dumb.
    A lot of people use jargon because they think big words make them sound smarter, but it actually does the opposite: If your readers don’t know what you’re talking about, they’ll assume that you probably don’t know what you’re talking about, either.

When it comes to effective writing, getting rid of jargon is a must. There is no neutral ground: Either kill your jargon, or your jargon will kill your message.

Here’s how to get rid of it:

  1. Say what you mean, and say it plainly.
    Use short, simple, common words.
  2. Use a conversational tone.
    Unless you literally sound like you’re reading a peer-reviewed journal every time you open your mouth, write how you speak. Better: Write how you speak to middle schoolers.
  3. Ask someone unfamiliar with higher education or your subject area to read your content.
    Do they know what you mean? Can they correctly repeat the information back to you in their own words? What did they find confusing or unclear?

Our new Student Organizations Directory

At Hope, life outside the classroom is as vibrant as it is inside. Our Student Life office offers an array of opportunities for students to get involved in more than 50 student-led organizations.

However, for many years our student groups were provided a fairly limiting template and embedded blog for sharing information (and many were not updated regularly). When we began the process of redesigning the new Student Life website, we knew a key aspect to success would be a finding a way to showcase the many student organizations and opportunities.

Together, we chose to abandon the one-size-fits-all approach of handing every group their own site, and worked toward a comprehensive Student Organizations Directory. The new directory provides an at-a-glance view of every Student Congress funded group, with quick access to social media links. The expanding accordions allow interested users to learn more about each group with a short description, photo, and email address to contact.

We also recognize that some groups or organizations do require more than a directory listing. For those, we work closely with the group to identify specific needs and a plan for sustainability. A few examples of custom sites for student organizations include:

We’re eager to hear feedback from students and others on their experience with the new directory!

Changes to OU Campus workflow

From the very beginning of the hope.edu relaunch, I’ve had two main priorities for web content:

1. Update and maintain live web content
2. Develop and launch new websites

These priorities aren’t changing, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to balance (juggle?) them.

In short, it’s taking me far too long to move websites from draft to launch. I’ve tried to be Johnny-on-the-spot about responding to OU Campus submissions as soon as I can, which pulls me away from my other projects. Something’s gotta give — and it ain’t the workload. I need to be smarter about my daily schedule.

So I’ve blocked off my calendar for two hours every morning. From 8–10 a.m., my number one priority will be working through my workflow queue. And if I need to, I’ll spend a little extra time to make sure I get through everything. This means that any changes submitted after 10 a.m. will be addressed the following morning. We’re still aiming to publish changes within 24 hours of receiving them.

The rest of my day will be reserved for other things — meetings, site building, launching new sites, and other projects. I’m hoping this will speed up the site launch process while still allowing me to turn around submissions within a reasonably quick timeframe.

Of course, if you have a truly urgent need, let me know, and I’ll get to it as quickly as I can.

OU Open Labs: Spring Semester

Open Lab sessions are back by popular demand!

We’ve blocked out time in a computer lab for you to drop in and ask questions, get help or simply work on your website with fewer interruptions. I’ll be working in the lab the whole time to answer your questions or help solve problems.

There’s no need to register — just show up with your questions!

  • Monday, January 09, 1–5 p.m., Martha Miller Computer Lab 240
  • Tuesday, January 24, 8 a.m.–noon, Schaap Computer Lab 3002
  • Monday, February 06, 1–5 p.m., Martha Miller Computer Lab 240
  • Friday, February 24, 8 a.m.–noon, Schaap Computer Lab 3002
  • Tuesday, March 07, 1:30–5 p.m., Martha Miller Computer Lab 240
  • Friday, March 24, 8 a.m.–noon, Schaap Computer Lab 3002
  • Tuesday, April 11, 1:30–5 p.m., Martha Miller Computer Lab 240
  • Friday, April 28, 8 a.m.–noon, Schaap Computer Lab 3002

 

A Few New Web Projects

We had a busy summer working on the new inHope and new Athletics website and app, but we’ve also had a handful of fun projects this fall that we’d like to share with you.

  • Dining Menus: we worked with Dining Services to introduce an entire new website for their area that also features new dining menus. The new menus were created and are completely managed within Google Calendar and allow the dining staff to maintain and update their daily menus easily and while on the go. The menu content is pushed out to their website as well as the display screens in the dining halls automatically and in real time. We’ve also introduced a new set of allergen icons.
  • EMS: many of you use EMS to reserve rooms around campus throughout the year. We gave the Virtual EMS interface a bit of a branding refresher and an overall clean and sleek look.
  • Tickets: our online ticket platform, Webtix, also got a branding update to match our hope.edu tempalate. The new tickets.hope.edu is now responsive and mobile friendly.
  • Admissions Rep Finder: We’ve had an “Admissions Find Your Representative” feature on our website for a while, but the data and files associated with it have had to be manually updated each time a change occurred. The new Admissions Rep Finder is now connected to our institutional Banner data, so updates and changes are made automatically.

Letting go is never easy

One of our goals in transitioning to our new website is to make Hope’s website smaller. There was too much information on our old site, and that just makes it harder for our users to find what they’re looking for. It’s time to slim down.

But that isn’t always easy to do. We’ve gotten used to doing something just because that’s the way we’ve always done it. We’re attached to it. We disagree about what’s actually important to our audiences.

Here are a few questions to help assess your content:

1. Does my audience actually need this information?

Sometimes we put content on our website because it’s important to us, not because it’s important to our user. If it doesn’t answer a question your audience is actually asking or provide information that’s truly valuable to them, then it shouldn’t go on the website. And remember: You are not your target audience.

2. Does this information already exist elsewhere?

We shouldn’t duplicate content. If a user can access the information somewhere else — the registrar’s or provost’s offices, for example, or the online catalog or event calendar — then we should simply provide easy access to that content. Link to it in a way that makes sense to your user.

3. Does this information really belong somewhere else?

Maybe the content is important to your audience, but it really belongs somewhere else. Sure, that syllabus is critical for the 18 people enrolled in your course this semester — but our public-facing website probably isn’t the best place to put it. (That’s what Moodle is for.) Figure out where it belongs, and let’s make sure it goes there.