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    Archive for the 'General' Category

    Dan Jackson leaving

    By Sonja M Van Praag, on 18 December 2014

    Today is Dan Jackson’s last day with Web & Mobile Services.

    We are very sad to see him go but would like to wish him all the very best!

    Thanks for all the work you’ve done for UCL, ISD and WAMS.

    Web & Mobile Services

    post-WebNet-post

    By Sonja M Van Praag, on 11 December 2014

    For those who attended WebNet on December 3rd, 2014, those who wanted to attend but couldn’t and also those who never thought of attending:

    1. LectureCast of WebNet December 3rd, 2014 – with speaker Dan Jackson (WAMS) and Paul Boag (Headscape) – 55 minutes.
    2. Paul Boag’s Digital Transformation for HE (pdf to download)
    3. User-testing website – to get users video-ed whilst testing
    4. Free user-testing website ‘Peek’ with generic tasks
    5. Crazy Egg website – to see where people click on your site
    6. Don’t make me think by Steve Krug - if you have time to read a short book…
    7. Hemingway App – to help you edit long paragraphs

    Paul Boag at WebNet 2014 at UCL

    WebNet: Paul Boag – Wednesday, Dec 3rd at 2pm

    By Sonja M Van Praag, on 17 November 2014

    Web & Mobile Services are inviting you to this term’s WebNet on December 3rd , 2014.
    It will take place at 2pm – 4pm in Lecture Theatre B17 in the basement of 1 – 19 Torrington Place.

    We are  very excited to confirm Paul Boag, digital strategist as our main speaker.

    Paul Boag is one of the founders of Headscape, a prolific blogger widely known for his very practical and sometimes controversial blog posts, who tweets regularly at https://twitter.com/boagworld and has over 20 years’ experience of helping organisations manage digital change.

    We have asked Paul to touch on a number of issues relevant to web Editors in his talk about ‘Digital Strategy’ such as content strategy and user testing, but are waiting to get the title of his talk confirmed.

    Dan Jackson from WAMS will be updating you on Indigo, the design language created by Web & Mobile Services.

    We will be advertising the event shortly – no need to book.

    Please look out for news, both in ‘The Week at UCL’ and on the ISD website.

    Looking forward to seeing you on December 3rd.

    Web & Mobile Services

    Not every good writer can write for the web…

    By Sonja M Van Praag, on 20 June 2014

    Paul Boag writes about all things web-related. Sometimes the articles are of relevance, sometimes not, but I think this particular article is worth a read.

    You can listen to his post or read it. You can subscribe to his weekly newsletter. All up to you, but do read the one about writing for the web.

    WebNet05 – June 17th 2014

    By Sonja M Van Praag, on 17 June 2014

    Today, the 5th WebNet meeting was held in the Christopher Inglold XLG LT between 2pm and 3.30pm.
    Relevant presentations are available on the WAMS webpage

    The next WebNet meeting will be held in the Autumn term.

    WebNet June 17th 2 – 4pm

    By Sonja M Van Praag, on 5 June 2014

    Christopher Ingold XLG1 Chemistry LT

    WAMS will present the soon-to-go-live new Search feature on the UCL website and all sites using the Corporate Identity template!

    Please register on the WAMS webpage.

    Why did we choose Silva!?

    By , on 23 September 2011

    A question often asked of us here in Web Services!  The choice was ultimately made by me and Neil Martin, we were the two Web Support Officers at the time but our choice was severely limited.

    The Content Management System Project Group (CMSPG) was set up in April 2002 to look into the options available for a CMS.  Very early on in the process that group settled on Zope as the framework for the future development of the CMS.  I was initially unimpressed by Zope on my first dealings with it.

    Several other universities had already started using Zope but with different CMS built on top of it.  In November 2003 I organised a Zope users meeting at the UCL and we had visitors from Bristol, Birkbeck, Oxford Brookes, ICH and others.  They were using different CMSs including Zope’s Content Management Framework (CMF), Plone and EasyPublisher.  In February 2004 I demoed some of the options for Zope to Information Systems (IS).  To say they weren’t impressed is an understatement!  Just after that meeting Neil discovered that his former employers, Luton University were using a Zope based CMS that we hadn’t heard off, Silva.  I quickly installed it and we arranged to go visit them.

    Compared to other CMS on offer Silva provided out-of-the-box organisational workflow which compared favourably to the community based alternatives where we would have had to develop the workflows separately which was something that would have been difficult to achieve quickly given our, then, limited Zope, Python skills.  The templating system was also very simple compared to the others and Neil and I could reproduce UCL templating very quickly.  It was also easier to build simple tools into it for template menuing etc.  It was the obvious choice for us.

    IS signed up Debs Pollard in late May 2004 to give us sysadmin support for the CMS and we finally started up the live service in early 2005.  Jon Bowlas joined up shortly after as our Silva Developer and we made great progress after that.

    There are now around 540 sites in Silva and we have some promising new developments on the way for 2012!  More on that in an bit.

    Joke of the day…

    By Nick Dawe, on 19 January 2011

    ‘So this SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish bar, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor’

    Goodbye to Neil…

    By Nick Dawe, on 10 September 2010

    As many UCL readers will know, our Web Services manager left us last month in order to emigrate with his family to Australia. Neil’s been working in Web Services for 8 years – a time that has seen huge changes in the Web and the way that we use it. At the beginning of this year, Neil’s role extended to becoming manager of Design and Web Services, in which he also had to grapple with the areas of print and graphic design. As well as being a encouraging manager and an expert on Web standards, we’ve also consistently enjoyed his humour, enthusiasm, and the opportunity to play with his iPad.

    A rare image of the Web Services team smiling. L-R: David Gillies, Jon Bowlas, Neil Martin, Ralph Bartholomew and Nick Dawe

    Website terminology

    By Nick Dawe, on 12 November 2009

    Necessarily, development for the web is full of ‘jargon’, simply because most words relating to the web have not entered the popular dialect. Words like ‘blog’ or ‘Tweet’ have finally become household names, perhaps because they are the only words you could really use for that function, but the majority of web-related words are still deemed as obscure buzzwords, even though they describe things that people use every day.

    This can be a bit of a problem for us. As well as developing/maintaining CMS and Apache websites, we also provide support for such items. Usually this is fine, but every now and again, there are quite interesting ‘miscommunications’ with users regarding fairly simple website issues because of our different understandings of a web-related word. Our central training teams work hard to ensure that, for instance, CMS users understand what a ‘browser’ is, and can hopefully help people to understand what certain other web terms mean. However, there are obviously a great number of users who have escaped training, and so the miscommunications continue.

    Personally, I’ve noticed that there are certain terms that are repeatedly used in vague and erroneous ways, often giving rise to confusion and frustration for both users and support staff. Obviously users shouldn’t have to learn ‘computer-speak’ to feel that they can call a web support team, but equally they shouldn’t feel the need to use certain words in a phone call/email when they’re not sure what they mean!

    Anyway, these are a few of the most common culprits, but I’d be interested if there are further ‘problem’ terms that crop up for others who support IT/websites.

    1. Link

    The term ‘link’ normally refers to a hyperlink from one URL to another. However, this term, more than any other, is used to refer to:

    • Webpages
    • Websites
    • Redirects
    • Rewrites
    • Forms

    The confusion here is possibly down to what a link is for most people – something that you click on, which opens a new page. Sadly however, this is quite a big difference to what we would understand a link to be. Therefore, if someone asks us for a link in a certain location, we’ll add a hyperlink, while the user actually wants us to create an entirely new page.

    2. “Going live”

    If a user of a CMS asks for their site to go live, it’s fairly clear what that means: to change the URL of the site so that it’s not accessed in the CMS development area anymore.

    But if a user is working on a site elsewhere, this term could mean a number of things. It could most likely mean that they’re trying to upload a site from their personal computer to the web server. However (as is often the case), it could just mean that they want a link from, e.g. the homepage, to their new website, or that they want their site to be moved from a development location they set up to a more accessible location. It could also, and this happens occasionally, mean that they want their site to be ‘lively’, by incorporating swirly animated .gifs, or large images that change every 3 seconds on their homepage.

    3. Portal

    Portals are, to be fair, not the easiest concepts: they’re generally thought of as being websites that work as an easy entrance  to other services, like email, calendars, searches, etc. (check out iGoogle if you’re unfamiliar with the term).

    However, a portal has traditionally been thought of as the opening to a large building, like a cathedral. So it’s not too surprising that users will term any ‘thing’ that opens up into a bigger ‘thing’ with this word. Understandably then, If someone asks for a portal, this has often just meant a login box, that takes them to a single web application. On larger scale however, we’ve also heard the term used when referring to networks, virtual machines, and Staff WTS…

    Any other suggestions..?