Digital Marketing & Communications

We've seen 1s and 0s you wouldn't believe

Write less, say more...

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📥  Communication, Team

It's not just good design and functionality that make a website work. Content is what it's about. Write sloppily and you'll undo the rest. Be verbose and you will switch people off. Keep important information till last and visitors will miss it.

Write short sentences. Use an active tense. Imagine that you pay for each word, so use sparingly. Look at www.bath.ac.uk/bucs/news/news_0009.html

By writing less, you say more. Verbosity isn't a measure of intelligence,  just lack of imagination.. Keep visitors interested. Then they are sure to return.

Three years of work in four paragraphs

📥  Development, Team, Tools

The development arm of Web Services (arm sounds a bit grand, there are 5 of us) has existed for about 3 years. During this time we have created a development environment from scratch. Before we became a team there were a few individuals working on projects with application code kept in home directories and network drives. When we formed as a team it was obvious we couldn't continue like this.Bamboo screenshot

So we looked at ways in which we could manage projects and code collectively...

First in was Subversion, we considered CVS but at this time a lot of people seemed to be switching to SVN. We mostly develop Java apps so next in was Ant for writing build scripts. We needed a tool to track bugs and feature requests and we quickly settled on Trac in the absence of any Bugzilla fans. At the time we didn't have a wiki so this feature of Trac was a bonus. A lot of the other things we have introduced support our move towards test driven development such as Junit, Cobertura and Bamboo a continuous integration server.

To use all these tools effectively we created a repository of common Java libs and developed generic ant scripts that build and test our applications. Some nifty Greasemonkey scripts written by the team also let us total our time estimates for tasks under a Trac milestone and drag 'n' drop tickets between milestones. We are always looking to improve the way we work so we have considered (and in some cases rejected), Maven, JIRA and TestNG. Let us know if you think we have missed a trick.

 

Join our team... we're looking for a Web Designer!

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📥  Team

We are currently advertising for a Web Designer to join our central Web Services team. This new role has been created to allow us to strengthen our online visual identity and enhance the user experience on our website(s).

Full details can be found on our website and further details about the work of our team and the work we do can be found on our wiki.

For an informal discussion regarding this position call Alison Wildish (Head of Web Services) on 01225 385381 or email a.wildish@bath.ac.uk.

 

The Web Sessions launched...

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📥  Communication

As part of our aim to increase communications we shall we running "Web Sessions" for staff and students. These lunch time (drop-in) seminars will provide information and guidance on a wide range of web related topics and give us an opportunity to interact with our wider community.

The first session "Managing your professional identity" will take place on the 23rd April... do come along!

 

Useful tools

📥  Tools

For people who want to bring together different services to create a unique blend (also known as a mashup), there are some really useful and easy to use tools out there.

Widgetbox allows you to develop small applications for embedding in webpages. The easiest widget to set up is the blidget, which fetches an RSS feed (from a blog, news service such as the BBC or the University's News pages, del.icio.us tags, Yahoo! Pipe or Flickr) and creates a shiny widget for embedding in a web-page, or for turning into a Facebook application or Google gadget.

Yahoo! Pipes allow you to bring together (aggregate) several different RSS feeds, filter out duplicate items, add author information, and so on.

Flickr is an online photo storage site, where you can display your photos (either publicly or so that only friends and family can see them), and you can use advanced search to obtain photos for use in presentations and on websites under the Creative Commons licence.

del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site, which means it is like bookmarking a favourite page in your web browser, but the bookmarks are saved on the del.icio.us website, and tagged with labels to make them easier for you and others to find. Each page on del.icio.us (whether it's popular tags, all tags, your bookmarks, or one of your tags) has an RSS feed associated with it, which can then be imported to a blidget or an RSS reader.

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself.

Jotform is the first web based WYSIWYG form builder. Its intuitive drag and drop user interface makes form building a breeze. Using JotForm, you can create forms, integrate them to your site and collect submissions from your visitors.

Google Scholar provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles. You still need your Athens account to log in to many of the resources you can find via Google Scholar, but it searches across all of JSTOR, Ebscohost, Blackwell Synergy, the DNB, Google Books, etc.

Google Books - Google have digitised many books libraries around the world. If the book is out of copyright, you can download the entire book, and search all of its content. Books that are still in copyright only allow a limited search. » More information

These are just two of the many tools offered by Google.

 

Introductions and Vision (27th March)

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📥  Communication

Last Thursday, we held an event for all University Web Maintainers to introduce our merged team and to present our plans for the future. Our main objective was to chat informally with colleagues and to gain some feedback regarding our service provision. We also used the event to inform colleagues of our plans to postpone migration for non-academic departments into the Content Management System (CMS) whilst we carry out some extensive work on the architecture of the site.

We had a good turnout, but as many colleagues couldn't make it, this blog post will attempt to cover some of the key points we discussed. For reference the slides are also available on slideshare

[slideshare id=329113&doc=web-services-introduction-and-vision-120696805046566-4&w=425]

Key Points

  • The Web Services team now sit within the Department of Policy and Planning and form part of Corporate Communications Services (along with Corporate Communications and Imaging, Design and Print)
  • The aim of the team is to "ensure the University's use of web technologies bears comparison with the best and the website is structured as a customer-focused, market-facing, corporate resource"
  • A Web Designer post has been approved and will be advertised shortly - bringing a designer into the team will enable us to strengthen our visual identity
  • The main objective for the moment is to move the website away from reflecting the structure of the University and towards user-focussed channels for information
  • CMS migration will continue for Academic Departments; however, the rest of the site will undergo some significant information architecture work to ensure information is accessible for the end-user and to avoid duplication of content
  • Web Services will continue to work with Web Maintainers and colleagues across the University to develop the site

This blog will be used to update people on our progress, but please feel free to post comments and send us feedback.

 

Communication, communication, communication...

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📥  Communication

It seems timely to launch a new blog for Web Services on the same day our team has moved (from Marketing and Communications) to Corporate Communications Services. In reality it's just a name change but it does demonstrate that we are a communications service and that our role is to get information 'out there'.

So who are we and why are we blogging? We're the central Web Team for the University of Bath. We develop the website(s), we liaise with departments, we look at new technologies and how they can make life easier but most importantly we communicate information. So with that in mind a blog fits neatly into our remit. This is our attempt to enhance communications with each other, with our peers and with the community (at the University) we provide a service for.

Read what you will, comment or feedback but as with any good communications service you'll find us all approachable for a face to face discussion too.