HighEdWeb 2018

HighEdWeb 2018 was fantastic. I had a markedly different experience than my first HighEdWebin 2017. The lineup of discussions this year were more forward thinking and highly relevant. The conference team did a great job putting together an exciting lineup and great activities.

This year the conference was on the west coast in the beautiful city of Sacramento in California. The pace of sessions, breaks, and time outside of the conference center was well balanced. I was fortunate enough to again be selected to speak to attendees. I presented this year on protecting and promoting your brand by leveraging design systems. I am grateful for the positive response and feedback shared by attendees.

Following are my personal notes from the sessions I attended.

Putting Atom Design to work

  • Lean on your pattern library, it will get stronger the more you do.
  • An actual plug for Adobe XD from a user. Another plug for Sketch too.
  • https://fractal.build/ is a newer player in the atomic design world

Give Content Contributors the AX

  • AX = the relationship your content authors have with their authoring tools
  • We take personnel problems, systems problems, and make them a training issue.
  • You can innovate by making unicorns.
  • Kurzweil – test websites with this too – https://www.kurzweiledu.com/default.html
  • The AX should prevent authors from making inaccessible content or at least guide them into making it accessible.
  • Resource:
    • https://github.com/LRNWebComponents/hax-body
    • oerschema.org
    • bit.ly/haxplaylist
    • haxtheweb.org
    • elmsln.org

Diversity on websites

  • Information architecture as a tool of oppression
  • Put Diversity at a high level on the global nav
  • Often there is a microsite with its own URL (it needs to be found and in other high level navs, say admissions)
  • Landing page is another strategy (link to from top level)
  • Look at pages and be critical of objectification. Make sure silencing does not occur.
  • Stats page should not show male/female. Instead talk about pronouns, make sure imagery does not bucket females with skirts for example.
  • Diversity as interest convergence.
  • You have to be all about balance.
  • Research shows limited content addressing black interests of concern, no messaging around Ferguson, Charlottesville
  • The best of the research
    • University of San Francisco
    • Loyola Chicago
  • Top Tips
    • Build a diversity landing page
    • Link to the page across your sites and make it near the top level
    • Balance authentic and aspirational diversity content, acknowledge shortcomings, be careful of the word “Strive”, a bit spineless
    • Create a small number of high quality pages, then expand
    • Tell real stories and real Information
  •   Short term
    • Images, candids and profile photos with captions and names
    • unify, elevate, promote content
    • do a focus group with non-majority groups and have web team participate

A hat of many hats – becoming the web product owner

  • Product Stewardship – not just product management.
  • “Focus on continuous delivery of valuable … user experience …”
  • Sometimes the product owner is termed Business Analyst
  • The Questions
    • What problem are we solving?
    • Who are we solving it for?
    • How are we going to measure success?
  • I like the idea of a website roadmap.
  • Ithaca.edu is a new Drupal higher ed site.
  • Change our homepage meeting to web product team meeting.
  • Trying to be a project manager and a product owner means being terrible at both.

Beautifully Accessible

  • figma is a design tool for the web
  • Change thinking from user experience to human experience
  • In 2016 census 12.5% of all americans reported living with a permanent disability, 40 million people
  • Mentioned :focus-visible, a handy newer pseudo property
  • https://modalzmodalzmodalz.com/ shows issues with modals



Gettin’ Griddy With It – CSS Grids

  • flex is a straight line, row or column, if it looks like a grid, then flexwrap has been enabled
  • There is a flex cross axis which determines where content is lined up
  • flex: 0 0 auto makes things stay the size they are, no growing or shrinking
  • grid-gap: #px; This is cool, it lets the grid determine the spacing between each grid box automatically
  • To position items within the grid you can use grid-column and grid-row shorthand properties.
  • grid-column and -row also support span (e.g. grid-column 2 /span 2);
  • grid-row(1/-1); will make content span the entire height of the grid.
  • grid just continues to be awesome
  • grid template areas allow you to build out named grids to plop elements into which is great for easily seeing what is going on later. It also allows very rapid prototyping.
  • minmax value is versatile way to ensure responsive grids. You can do something like repeat:(auto-fill, minmax(200px, 1fr);

We developed an online CMS training and look what happened

  • Staff don’t have to travel to train.
  • Drupal Training is then how we can tie in accessibility training too
  • Training videos, request access to sandbox, reviewed by staff, then access to live website. Takes about 1.5 hours of time.
  • Average about ~100 new users a year
  • Quality of help ticket requests are vastly improved since starting training
  • Know your primary audience
  • Break your training into small series, 5 minutes or less.
  • Make it like a conversation in the video.
  • We should use some improved equipment as well, not just built-in system stuff.
  • Another plug for hemingwayapp.com
  • In the documentation to go with your video use screenshots as needed, provide the steps needed assuming the user did not watch the video
  • Could we have students build this out?
  • Beta test the videos a lot and listen to the feedback, look for patterns of things consistently missed
  • We could include a page about how to request help and what a good support request looks like
  • Maybe add an optional module on “writing for the web”

Don’t call it an intranet

  • Internal communications was not a focus at the school, hence email overuse, paper flyers, and external websites. Tons of paper is not a sustainable practice.
  • Refocus external sites for external audiences, reduce email overload to students
  • Helps build an intentional community culture
  • Evaluated packaged intranet solutions, met with campus stakeholders
  • Make the case: articulate the benefits of building on top of a system you already understand, develop a design, build a prototype
  • Plan the project: scope out needs vs. wants, do a content audit, IA development.
  • Big effort to collect all of the external content that really should have been in the intranet
  • Overcoming the perceptions of the existing intranet
  •  ** Name it something that does not include intranet
  • The login greets by their name, shows date and time, and shows the weather in their location
  • The landing page sort of personalizes for the role you have
  • Identify power users (those that send lots of emails or make lots of posters), and train them on how to use the system. Also tried to align with new internal communication strategy.
  • Measured success in increased traffic and pageviews. It has reduced email use and refocused external sites to be for prospective students.
  • Search behavior has changed on external sites, they were able to retire and consolidate legacy sites, got rid of internal use forms from external sites
  • Have created a place where institutional knowledge can reside rather than only in people
  • Search has been a pitfall, users still search for external resources inside of the intranet and the other way around. Need an elegant way to show separate resources.
  • They have 3 people doing this, definitely a product owner exists whose main goal is to increase internal communication practices and nurture the intranet
  • Continue to review the data and use it to support adoption of moving content into the intranet

How do we know how we are doing? – Analytics strategy

  • Understand your user goals and needs – set up interviews with as many stakeholders as possible.
  • Keep conversations high level, you don’t have to focus on Analytics
  • Are there key events throughout the year that they work toward every year
  • Ask students how they use the site
  • Talk to your own team
  • Content plan and strategy also drives analytics
  • Questions they wanted to answer
    • Demographics
    • Audience breakdown
    • popular content, most shared content, normal top pages, sessions, etc…
    • Downloads
    • nav patterns
    • top screen sizes and devices
    • sources

Google behavior report gives a lot of great starting data

  • Behavior flow is a good starting point to see other entry pages into your site
  • She sets up individual segments based on what pages people view – gives more personal data
  • Coordinated campaign UTM tags between alumni and marcomm so we can see what campaigns are driving content to websites
  • Hojar is used by Stanford Law as well
  • They craft custom analytics measurements based on the campaigns they choose to run
  • Match your content calendar with analytics visits to see if people click on the content when it is distributed
  • https://law.stanford.edu/analytics-recipe-book

Can you do it in the dark? Making your social media more accessible.

  • The unemployment and underemployment for disability is something like 70%, I want to look into that
  • Twitter and FB have pretty good support. For instagram, put in alt description in the caption unless the caption clarifies it. Example: [Image Description: …]
  • Facebook supports SRT file uploads
  • Instagram/Twitter – you need to burn the captions into the video
  • Add audio description for videos and broadcasts – social media currently does not support audio description
  • Avoid jargon and technical talk where possible
  • Be clear, concise, make it stick
  • Champion accessibility through the entire content creation process
  • Social media is now embedded into the website content, we need to be clear to make that link and keep our content accessible
  • There is a facebook accessibility team to follow on facebook and twitter accessibility twitter account
  • Involve people with disabilities.
  • Look for a guide on accessible snaps (SnapChat)
  • Use camel case in your hashtags
  • Buffer is a great accessible platform, it is part of their culture
  • Hootsuite has it on their roadmap and they believe are close to tieing in accessible posts
  • Build in accessible content creation time into the editorial calendar


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