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So you’ve got yourself a Drupal site, and it’s feeling a little neglected. Maybe it doesn’t have any friends and nobody plays with it anymore. Why not bring it to one the Drupal Open Labs? Or maybe you don’t have a website yet but you’ve always been thinking about getting one. Why not stop by and try one out? At the Open Labs, someone might let you play with theirs.

Think of the Open Labs as a sort of 4-H club for website owners. The free program has been around for a while as part of CWS’s suite of web training and support services, but this quarter we’re giving the sessions an adrenaline injection in the spirit of experimentation. We’re planning to hold extended sessions weekly through March, and we’ll not only have our Drupal trainer-in-residence, Sher Fenn, on hand, but we’ll also bring developers, site builders, graphic artists and writers.

We’re looking for web property owners who want to improve their sites. Bring your projects to the lab and we’ll assemble a team on the fly to either workshop solutions right on the spot or set you on a course to continue to work on your own with confidence. Are you lacking a robust web support team? Well now for two hours per week you’ve got one. Oh, and the program isn’t restricted to just Drupal. We welcome other web species as well, from WordPress to garden variety HTML.

So bring your neglected pet projects or even your major initiatives to the lab and let’s poke ’em with a stick and watch what happens.

Here are the dates for the upcoming labs. And you can sign up here. We hope to see you there this winter.

  • January 22, Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • January 29, Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • February 5 -Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • February 12 -Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • February 19 -Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • February 26 -Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • March 4 – Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • March 11 – Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • March 25 – Autzen Classroom, Rm 2082, 2nd Floor, Valley Library, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
(Photo: Oregon Digital Collections)

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.53.54 PMI recently got a tour of the new online catalog that our Extension office built. Essentially it houses all of their publications in one easy to navigate Drupal site. For anyone with Drupal or database experience you know that alone is a heroic task. The site is full of features and cool modules. It is a shining example of quality content, great architecture and strong development. A big congrats to everyone in Extension and Experiment Station Communications who knocked this one out of the park.

-Kegan

-Kegan

We are in the middle of the holiday season at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t take a look back at the past few months of web traffic:

Here’s a look at the stories we took down.

previous homepage stories

Floralia was up on the homepage for a very, very long time. It was our first experiment with a microsite and was VERY well-received by the College of Business.

The stories currently linked on the homepage include:

Creating great writers: A feature about EVERYTHING Writing at Oregon State: from a new partnership with a nonprofit in east Oregon, to the new low-residency MFA in Bend, to talented students choosing Oregon State over world-class programs like Iowa. Big things are happening for writers here.

Rocking outdoor education: My big summer project: A feature about the Adventure Leadership institute here at Oregon State and the impact its made from the very start with prominent climber Willi Unsoeld

Making it happen: A great student story about Joyce Madriz: an undergrad biology student following her dreams! This story is also up in Spanish.

Amphibians are crashing: A Terra story about herpetology, which I don’t even understand, so you’ll have to read to find out more!

On a wing and a dare: Another great Terra story about drones. Drones are such a hot topic now, and the dudes in our office obviously love them.

On the video side, we gained 471 subscribers and lost 124 subscribers for a net gain of 347. We currently have 5,658 subscribers to the Oregon State Youtube channel. “Welcome back to Oregon State”, our “short tour” campus video has 141 likes and only one dislike, counting it as our “most engaged” video.

And here’s a look at our top videos:

top videos

Darryl says: In this time period, we saw a nice bump in views in comparison to our last report.

The Welcome Back video was inspired by a video that an improv group created. It was one of our top performing videos, and in a very short time and little to no promotion at all. While edgy, the video inspired over 100 likes and multiple comments within a week of posting. The amount of time we spent creating the video was minimal as well, we spent a couple hours planning the idea of the video, a day to shoot and just a couple hours to edit.

The Bass fishing video we created generated an impressive 18,883 views due to an interesting viral video that recommended our video as a follow up to watch. Most of these views originated from Brazil, which leads us to believe that the recommendation must have been localized to that country.

Our Beaver Nation commercial, as mentioned in the previous report, is also performing well and we continue to receive good feedback on it. We also finished up our 1-minute version of this video, using similar visuals yet a unique take on messaging.

Other videos in this timeframe include the Fire video and two accompanying profiles. While they don’t have many views, we fully intend on pushing the piece out to different sources. We also recently finished up our campus recruiting video for the OSU Cascades Campus, a fun video with all the spirit of Central Oregon.

Over the last year or two we have been working to get our google analytics profiles under control. When they were initially setup there wasn’t much future thinking involved. At the time it wasn’t the go to metrics source for our sites, so I am not surprised that it was developed a bit hastily. We don’t yet have a perfect picture. We are still gaining access to analytics on several key sites, but now we can at least put out the first OSU Big Board. Essentially a list of the top 50 used sites at OSU.

This list is based off page views per day. There are some notable caveats to this list that I will try to highlight after. For comparison the OSU Home Page or front page comes in at 47,893 page views per day. All data was averaged from September 1st, 2012 and June 30th, 2013.

1. “Online Services” – 154,664 – This is the backbone of the university. I will surmise that this will forever be the most used online entity at OSU. All audiences use this for various reasons. Class registration, schedules, grades, transcripts, employee benefits, pay information, general account information.

2. OSU Main – 32,085 – Includes the top tier links for OSU and all of the audiences specific landing pages. Also includes a few micro sites. This is essentially everything that makes up OSU’s homepage except for the front page itself.

3. Course Catalog – 28,212

4. Ecampus – 13,885

5. Admissions – 11,261

6. OSU Search – 7,107 – Search results pages and a small amount of people that go to the search page instead of using the toolbar.

7. Housing and Dining Services – 4,705

8. Extension Service – 3,938

9. Calendar – 3,807

10. College of Public Health and Human Sciences – 3,522 – Credit them for having a single site that contains most of their college pages/entities. It is a larger site to manage but benefits from greater exposure for all parts.

11. OSU Cascades Campus – 3,288 – I expect to see this grow as they become a full four year university.

12. College of Business – 3,007 – Again benefiting from a single site for most of their departments and programs.

13. Financial Aid and Services – 2,687

14. Information Services – 2,082

15. College of Engineering – 2,038

16. College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences – 1,968

17. College of Veterinary Medicine – 1,886

18. Office of the Registrar – 1,785

19. News and Research Communications – 1,715

20. Human Resources – 1,521

21. College of Pharmacy – 1,506

22. Computer Help Documents – 1,408

23. Business Affairs – 1,284

24. Graduate School – 1,253

25. Campus Map – 1,236

26. Career Services – 1,205

27. College of Science – 970

28. Oregon 4H – 929

29. Employment Opportunities – 890

30. College of Education – 885

31. OSU Foundation – 879

32. Research Office – 858

33. College of Agricultural Sciences – 845

34. New Student Programs and Family Outreach – 790

35. Student Computing Facilities – 787

36. Summer Session – 647

37. Facilities Services – 634

38. Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life – 560

39. College of Liberal Arts – 529

40. Student Leadership and Involvement – 500

41. Business Centers – 489

42. Visit OSU – 478

43. Commencement – 445

44. Brand Guidelines – 434

45. Transit and Parking Services – 412

46. Academic Affairs – 409

47. Counseling and Psychological Services – 388

48. Administrative Leadership – 361

49. Powered by Orange – 312

50. Memorial Union Program Council – 311

Notable Exclusions

There are several sites that we don’t have access to that seem like they would get a lot of traffic. Those include the Alumni Association, International Programs, the College of Forestry, OSU Library, Student Health Services and of course our Athletics site and several other academic related departments and programs. Applications like Banner, Blackboard, MyTime and others are likely very heavily used but because of their third party status we aren’t able to integrate our profile.

I will update this information a couple times throughout the academic year. We will include data on sites that move up and down this list and try to identify indicators for that movement.

-Kegan

-Kegan

July and August were all about getting rid of the (awesome) commencement stories we worked so hard on in the spring and replacing it with awesome content that could see us through the summer and straight into school. Here’s a look at the stories we took down.

previous homepage stories

Stories up on the site at this time include:

Floralia: I can’t get rid of this beautiful site we (and by we, I mean Kegan) created. I still love it so much. The site features a quick story I wrote, video by Darryl and lots of HTML5 moving photos & other awesome bits and pieces.

Board of Trustees: This homepage feature is a link to our new leadership page for the Board of Trustees. We’ll keep it updated as we go through the confirmation process, but will probably remove it from the homepage pretty soon? We’ll see.

Making an Impact: A young-alum story about a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova.

For the Sport of it: Did you know Oregon State had a winning bass fishing team? Me either. This story by Colin explains…

Creating great writers: A feature about EVERYTHING Writing at Oregon State: from a new partnership with a nonprofit in east Oregon, to the new low-residency MFA in Bend, to talented students choosing Oregon State over world-class programs like Iowa. Big things are happening for writers here.

SMILE!: A feature about Oregon State’s SMILE (Science & Math Investigative Learning Experiences) program, which encourages underserved youth to see themselves as scientists.

As for video views, Bollywood Dance the Harlem Shake are KILLING it right now. Maybe we should just dance our way into the school year.

top 10 videos

We were also really proud to release the new Beaver Nation commercial, which our team as well as Marketing has worked so, so hard on.

top 5 new videos

A lot of this traffic was thanks to a big push on social media. Here are a few of my favorite comments we received.

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Releases about our scientific research remain our highest viewed:

top news releases

Thanks so much for reading this post and the last one. Now that we have our format down, you’ll be seeing these every two months. One thing everyone was interested in was seeing a traffic report comparing our colleges. Ask and ye shall receive:

colleges

My takeway from these numbers is that strong content breeds page views. Summer has been a bit slow for us all, but I’m finally feeling more in the swing of this still-new job (I passed the six month mark this month – woohoo!) So I think September and October will bring us a wealth of new content, fun new projects and learning experiences all around.

-Callie

From our presentation at the Drupal Bootcamp earlier this week, here are ten tips for better web content. Follow these and your page will automatically be ahead of most of the others out there.

  1. Use brief introductory copy on every major page: three lines max, aimed at new users
  2. Avoid dense blocks of text
  3. Make page scan-able by using ordered and unordered lists
  4. Make page scannable by employing headings at least down to <h4>
  5. Write titles and headings so that a user could read them alone and have a strong understanding of the whole page
  6. Use bold/italics sparingly
  7. Never use all caps
  8. Never underline text for emphasis unless it’s an actual link
  9. Instead of “click here” make descriptive text into a link
  10. Follow AP Style
– David

So whenever I am in a meeting and we do the typical lets all introduce ourselves spiel. I inevitably get asked what I actually do or get the typical confused/intrigued facial expressions. I guess I should preface this by saying my official title is User Experience Specialist. Most of the time I give a fairly generic and rehearsed explanation, but I feel like the absolute best explanation can only be reached via YouTube. (I have been on a big Office Space kick these days)

This might seem silly, but it really is pretty accurate as I see it. My job is to balance the needs of our users (students, staff, faculty, alumni, etc..) and the needs of our leadership. We are in fact a marketing and communications division. We wouldn’t exist if there was no strategic mission our university was trying to accomplish. So I try to listen to our audiences, gather information, test, practice, etc.. Then combine that with the insight I have into higher education, our specific university and the strategic goals as handed down from our President, Provost and VP. So in essence I am the web middle man.

Kegan-

-Kegan

I was recently sent an interesting article. It was a study done by the Nielsen Norman Group on Teenagers and how they use the web. It contrasts this study with others done on different age groups. If you are interested in the subject I encourage you to read the full article. I will be honest it doesn’t paint teenagers in a positive light, but lets be honest they probably deserve it. I think the chart below pretty much sums up all of their general findings. Like any usability research we shouldn’t jump to conclusions (unless you have a jump to conclusions mat) and make drastic or sweeping changes to how we do things. However, having an ever increasing understanding of the audiences we try to serve will only make our work better.

-Kegan

-Kegan

Before you begin any new website project (or a major overhaul of an existing site), you should take a long, hard look at your content. One helpful planning step is to make an outline of everything you’d like to have on your site. Organize the outline hierarchically so that you know how to nest navigation.

You can also use a content template is one way you can get organized prior to building a website. This content template was created for our OSU Standard theme. This template takes the special regions and features available in this theme into consideration. It could be useful for users switching from a different them to the latest version of Standard.

When switching to a new template or theme, or when starting a brand new site, something that often happens is that the content looks awkward or even overwhelmed by the template. It’s like putting together a model airplane that somehow never quite looks as good as the version on the box. Especially if you skipped a few steps in the instructions.

So use a content template to get organized and be better prepared for launching your next web project.

Flickr is loaded with OSU images
Flickr is loaded with OSU images

We’ve become avid users of the photo sharing service Flickr here at OSU. We go way beyond merely having an official OSU account on the service.  Key content on our main OSU site and top level pages is integrated with our account.

Press releases (like this one) created by our news office use Flickr images. That way the image from the release becomes a searchable part of our Flickr presence. The multimedia page on our News site features a Flickr search and categories that pull from sets in our account. The pages also randomly pulls preview images from these sets right onto the site.

Our Powered by Orange campaign features a Flickr component, too. The Benny on the Move gallery features photos of people who have taken a cutout of our mascot, Benny the Beaver, and photographed him traveling around the world. This is done by merely uploading the photo to Flickr and tagging it with “bennyonthemove.” Our Summer Session program is also running a “Flat Benny” contest.

We originally started using Flickr for one of our student bloggers who traveled to Antarctica on a research project and chronicled his trip with hundreds of amazing images in Transmissions from the Ice Sheet.

OSU Archives is also a member of the Flickr Commons, joining the Library of Congress and the National Galleries of Scotland as the first university to become part of this group that shares archival photos with the world via Flickr.

We also share photos with Facebook and Ning, as well as via a number of other online services. But on the photo side, nothing is quite as extensive as our integration with Flickr. It folds nicely into our own site, and it also moves a lot of our content to a space where it is exposed to an audience searching for strong images. So far, it’s been an effective way to share our photos.