The Web Communications department has changed dramatically over the past few years as we try to keep pace with the evolving digital landscape. The advent of web video, social media and mobile devices has redefined how we communicate.  As a reflection of these changes, our team has grown from three web specialists to a group of eight media professionals and three interns, including video producers, animators and motion designers.

While the web is still a primary delivery vehicle for our work, our content also regularly appears at major campus events, on broadcast television, PBS and the PAC-12 Networks. Video and motion graphics now make up the vast majority of our billable hours. To reflect these changes, we’re changing the name of our team to Interactive Communications. We’re hoping the  term “Interactive,” is more inclusive of the work of our entire team, whether it’s a website, a documentary film appearing on television that has a companion website, a multimedia piece integrated into a live event or whatever we discover we’ll be doing tomorrow.

We’re excited by the new possibilities available with every advance in technology, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with all of you in 2014 as we carry our integrated marketing and communications plan forward in the digital space.

Here’s a look at some of the exciting projects we worked on over the past year:

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

This is a quick video tour of our new office space. It is also a test run of a new toy that Justin put together. He picked up the new GoPo HERO3+ and built a motorized brushless gimbal. Which of course means, a thingy that helps keep the camera stable and smooth while you move around.

The test turned out well. He tossed on a warp stabilizer in premiere for kicks, but honestly I think it wasn’t worth it. You can see a little bit of the warp side effects when you first come down the stairs. Otherwise it provided a really smooth hyper stable shot. This isn’t our first venture into “steadicams”.  We tried something called a Cowboy, which was borderline a scam. We went with an actual steadicam, but the lack of uber forearm strength has really limited our abilities. This contraption is very lightweight making it easy to get the shot. You can also do it 4 or 5 times over, which we all know is what we really need to get it right.

Toss that on top of the freaky high quality image that you can get from the newest Go Pro Hero3+ and you have a pretty sweet rig. Next we need to take it out to the track or in the field somewhere to give it a real test.

-Kegan

-Kegan

This next June will mark seven years from when I started working in the Marketing Department as an intern. From there transitioning to where I am today in Web Communications.

During that time rumors about moving offices always seemed to persist. Every other month there was a different remodeling, renovating, redesigning or re-something idea floating around. There is nobody to blame really. Universities are notoriously slow and cumbersome when it comes to things like this. Toss in the fact that most of the people in our department are dreamers and you end up with an ever evolving sense of possibilities!

Well it finally happened. Essentially we kicked out the Geospatial Services group in the basement of Adams. They definitely got the crappy end of the stick on that one. I feel for my friends in that group. I will miss the ever-present smell of toast, wafting down the hall, in the morning. After they moved we went to work as a team. Cleaning, painting, laying new wood floor (pretty hoss for a bunch of web geeks), putting up the trim and eventually putting together what can only be described as an Ikea office showroom.

Immediately as you come down the stairs you see our chalk wall of productivity. This is space for Dave to layout our current and upcoming projects. Think wall sized gantt chart

task-wall

If you turn to the left you will now see our cozy little living room space. I envision doing some of the more mundane tasks while lounging on the couch half asleep. It is a little hard to see but we also have the most glorious rug. It has a moose-like animal on it. I feel like it is a work of art and have a hard time stepping on it. Callie picked it out and will receive a 5% per month pay increase for excellent rug taste. At least that is what would happen if I had any say/control over such things. For the greater good it is probably best that I do not.

seating-area

Here is a good look at the general office setup. We all get our own desk space and grid like shelving unit. You can add cubbies, drawers or cabinets to fit your own personal style. We certainly haven’t figured everything out with this new environment, but that will come with time. We might also end up hating each other, it is hard to forecast. Either way I feel like it will work itself out.

office

Lastly, we have a nice section for our interns. Since over the years they have done most of the work around here we figured they should also get a nice clean work space. If you are a bright person and want to continue doing all of our work as an intern shoot us an email, we are pretty much always hiring.

interns

I forgot to get a picture of our new video editing suite, but it is also pretty incredible. It will be a big asset for our projects and random youtube video watching abilities (always during lunch…).  Below is a list of things we have learned mixed in with things that I think we will have to conquer as a group.

  • Temperature: It is pretty impossible to please everyone. It seems like it is boiling lava hot or frigid. Still have to find that middle ground.
  • Music: I like to blare my music loud and I have been known to listen to a new hit jam 10 times in  a row. You can assume that nobody else on the planet would enjoy that.
  • Assembling that much Ikea furniture sucks. We need special interns just for that.
  • Using a nail gun makes you feel like a tough guy.
  • Smells: You can use your imagination here. There hasn’t been any big problems yet, but it seems like an inevitability at this point. Somebody is going to bring in some sort of stinky egg lunch and the whole office will notice.
  • By moving to the basement we have taken small steps in eliminating all contact with other humans. Sometimes stray customers from parking services happen by, but someday I am confident we can get that to zero incidences. 
  • Having this space has spurred the idea of doing potluck breakfast once a month. The first one was fantastic, I gorged myself on bacon products. The only downside is knowing that I have to wait a full month until the next one. 

-Kegan

-Kegan

video tracking shot via sled
Darryl Lai being pulled by lead sled dog Justin Smith. Both are Web Communications staff members.

 

You might wonder how the title of this relates to the above photo so let me try and establish the scene. Darryl (AKA “Da-REAL Deal”) squirreled himself into some kind of tiny sled. The reason this tiny sled exists still evades my comprehension. Justin then attached this strange sled to his waist much like a sled dog. This weird setup was an attempt at getting a tracking shot of a cross country skiier. The idea was that the skiier would come at them while justin ran along pulling Darryl on his tiny sled.

The trouble was that it absolutely didn’t work. The motion was so rocky that it really didn’t turn out well. Now I didn’t watch further than the first 30 seconds and they are very good at post processing so maybe it will be usable. However, I kind of doubt it. The purpose of this post is to show you what it takes to make really high quality work (in any field). You have to be excited about the possibility of failure. You have to continue to try new things, take leaps of faith, screw up and hopefully do better next time.

This isn’t supposed to be a warm and fuzzy motivational pitch this is just simple fact. If you want to do anything great (doesn’t matter what it is) you have to try everything. No matter how crazy or weird it might seem. You have to do whatever it takes to get that epic shot.

-Kegan

-Kegan

I went to the Oregon Zoo earlier this week. The hope is that we can work together and form a partnership around the beaver habitat. Maybe some day we will have livebeavercam.edu available for you to go to (official title still to be determined). Anyways it was also quite enjoyable on a personal level because this was my first trip to the zoo. The highlight, of course, were the beavers, but there were lots of other great animals and educational opportunities as well. I strongly urge you to visit if you have the opportunity.

Things Kegan learned at the zoo

  • Melody, our marketing director, has a reoccurring nightmare about bears.
  • The beavers are way bigger than expected. We are talking like 20-40 lbs.
  • Inside the beaver den is a magical looking place, that is warm and cozy. I really wanted to crawl in there.
  • Elephants have huge bladders and well, for lack of more eloquent speech, “drop a massive load when they urinate”.
  • While we are on the subject, Polar bears urinate in the their own pool, which if I remember from growing up is a big no no.
  • The baby elephant lilly is incredible cute and I could watch her run around for hours.
  • Monkeys are arrogant and think they are better than me (constantly plotting their escape).
  • Lions are definitely king of the jungle.
  • Some bird (that I don’t recall the name of) acts as a scout for the mongoose while it hunts. While the mongoose scares up insects for the bird to eat. The perfect form of animal teamwork.
  • The Oregon Zoo is awesome.

-Kegan

-Kegan

Here are three things you can learn today.

The Grande Super burrito at La Rockita (downtown Corvallis) is too big. I know wouldn’t typically ever think of saying that phrase, but the thing is just way to big. It broke open and spilled every where. Quite tasty, but a big disaster. Sorry I don’t have any pictures to back this up (was a hot mess). You are going to have to take my word for it.

The Cannon 5D Mark (mark I) is almost eight years old. It is easily the most seldom used camera in our office. Since it has no video functionality it is typically left in the drawer, as we don’t do very much still photography. However, we have been doing a ton of time lapses lately and the fact that it is a full frame camera (not cropped sensor like most of our other DSLR’s) means you can do some really brilliant time lapses. There are tons of options out there as far as cameras, but if you are an in-house production unit and are looking to ramp up your time lapse capability getting your hands on an original 5D would be well worth the investment. You can pick up a refurbished one between $500-$800. Like I said, it doesn’t shoot video, but can really bang out some stunning time lapse scenes.

The University Marketing Department at OSU (in our division) has recently put up new banners around downtown Corvallis. They depict all the many things that make up Beaver Nation. I think they turned out great. On the way to the aforementioned  burrito lunch (still too big) we snagged a picture outside the lovely Benton County Courthouse.

-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

For an upcoming football game all OSU fans are encouraged to wear Black apparel. It will be one of the first night games at Reser in a long time, so it should be a pretty incredible atmosphere. For the last decade (when we started winning) it has been a tradition for students to camp out for tickets the night before they are available. This year because of our surprising success the army of campers has grown quite large.

In the past we have taken hot chocolate, snuggies and blankets out to the usually wet and cold group. However, this year because of the importance of this unique wear black game we got almost 500 t-shirts and delivered them to the students. We loaded up our electric car and took off.

Sparky loaded down with Beaver Nation shirts.

These are the parts of the job that aren’t covered in your position description and you wouldn’t really hear about it during an interview, but it’s one of the reasons it is fun to work at a university. If you have never given away free shirts then you just haven’t experienced all the joys in life. These students look at you like you are carrying stacks of gold. They thank you, they bow to you and sometimes they call you the Boss, man, chief, hero or any number of “bro” compliments.

So cheers to t-shirts, cheers to free stuff, cheers to the Beavers and cheers to fanatical students!

The start of the camping line. They had one of the better setups.
Some groups had been there so long they had semi permanent setups.

The coolest dog of all the campers. This guy was very well trained and looked awesome. Could have spent the whole time taking pictures of him.
This group won the who is the most excited to get a free shirt contest.
Keeping everyone entertained with a little jam session.
Studying…. well you have to admire their commitment to education!
By the end of it all it started to rain, but true OSU problem solvers working together to get that fire going!

-Kegan

-Kegan

In our department we value creativity. We have a pretty relaxed environment. Hours aren’t 100% scripted and our dress code is pretty relaxed. We have a voice in the design of our offices and creative spaces. In the Higher Education world I would say we operate outside of the norm.

However, none of this would work if we didn’t also value hard work and have pretty high quality standards. As the title suggests whatever it takes to get the job done is sort of our mantra. If that means working from a coffee shop, or alone in your office. If it means blasting 80’s rock or listening to Mozart on your headphones. We do what works best.

The video below is what gets me pumped up in the morning and ready for my day. What is your ideal work environment? Let us know in the comments.

-Kegan

-Kegan