University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Looking for some helpful tips to maximize your web CMS experience and enhance your website? Check back here often as OmniUpdate web CMS experts will be sharing technical tips, user training suggestions, professional services ideas, and more.

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Considering a new web site redesign, or one has been 'given' to you, or are you planning on implementing OmniUpdate for your web site? Then here are some starting tips to plan for this big change that may not be on your current radar.

Since these tips are applicable to practically any CMS, think of this as a roadmap of tips for preparing for a CMS implementation by itself, and/or a web site redesign with CMS implementation.

1. Identify those individuals and or departments who are content owners or responsible for each section of the current web site. If you have not got a web committee to help manage the process, these are the kind of people you want participating. Even if they are not on (or need to be on) the committee, they are crucial to getting the next steps done.

Enlist these groups or individuals to help complete items 2-6. If you do not do this, you will have a very big job ahead of you.

2. Take 'Inventory' of your web site. This is not just a 'physical' file inventory, but more of a current road map inventory to help you and others on you web site transition team to understand what needs to be done before a site is redesigned or a CMS is implemented.

Identify the following:
a. Which pages/sections are fine as-is (content is accurate and up  to date)
b. Which pages/sections are out of date and need to be updated, and assign who will update them
c. Which pages/sections are obsolete and should be removed (and or not migrated to a new re-design or CMS)
d. Which pages/sections can be archived (need on-line but are old, ie. 2002 press releases), and not moved to a new web site initially.

3. Check and correct broken links for those pages that are in 2.a and 2.b.

4. Update those key pages that are out of date as identified in 2.b.

This current web site preparation work should be done before anything is moved into the new site design and or CMS.

5. Create an architectural 'site-map' of the current web site for planning, implementation preparation, and future migration to a re-designed web site (if that is a goal).

6. Once a new navigation plan and site architecture is approved for the new web site redesign and/or CMS implementation. Create a migration map that correlates the content on the current site to those sections of the navigation scheme of the new site. This migration map may take the form of an excel spreadsheet listing for each page/section the new nav location, current site URL, who it is assigned to, and any special instructions for migration or ingestion into the CMS.

This migration map become your master plan for the implementation of content from your current web site into a CMS or part of a redesign and CMS.

If you would like an example of a migration map format, feel free to contact me. If you have your own suggestions for planning for a redesign or CMS implementation, add a reply!
ADA Section 508 Compliance—Just Good Web Design

Complying with ADA Section 508 is a vast undertaking that affects every higher education website. This is part 1 of 3 on this important topic.

Building websites for ADA Section 508 Compliance is not hard and should be part of any good web design. Whether you’re building templates for use with OmniUpdate, or designing (or redesigning) a website, you’ll want to follow modern web standards and, if possible, specifically use CSS1, CSS2, SSI, and a content management system. Consequently, managing your site for compliance will be much easier. In addition, you will be able to handle legacy browsers more gracefully.

The following are some of the major ADA Section 508 design guidelines to consider when building your site:

Text Tags – For images and animations, use the ALT attribute to describe each visual. For graphs and charts, summarize or use the longdesc attribute for detailed descriptions.

Multimedia - Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, descriptions of video, and alternate links for Flash navigation.

Color - If you use color to convey information, provide an alternate without color.

Readability - Organize documents so they are readable without requiring CSS. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure.

Server-Side Image Maps - Provide redundant links. Avoid if possible.

Client-Side Image Maps - Use the client-side map and text for hotspots.

Tables - Make line-by-line reading sensible. Identify row and column headers, summarize, and avoid using tables.

Frames - Provide meaningful titles if you must use frames. Avoid using frames for layout if possible.

Flicker Rate - If objects flash or flicker, they should be no greater than 2Hz or no less than 55Hz. Avoid flashing objects.

Text Only Alternates - Only provide a text-only page when no other means is available. Avoid designing to this result.

Scripts - Provide alternative content in case active features within the script are inaccessible or unsupported. Scripts may be turned off in the user’s browser.

Applets and Plug-Ins - Provide links to required applets and plug-ins that comply with Section 508. Avoid using in layout design.

Forms - Use the Label and ID tags to make forms useable with assistive technology.

Hypertext Links - Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here." Provide ways to skip repetitive navigation links.

Timed Responses - Show when a timer is used and provide a way to indicate when more time is required by user. Avoid designing with timed responses when possible.

Remember, the ADA Section 508 guidelines are only the minimum requirements for your site. Why not go the extra mile and make your pages truly easy to navigate for the ADA user? Design a “hidden” shortcut navigation (using anchor tags) for ADA Section 508 users so they can skip directly to the content they want on the page. And, define a CSS style to hide the shortcut navigation from modern browsers, but shows in ADA Section 508 browsers. Consequently, your design will be suited to all website visitors, not just those that are abled differently.

When you are done with the design phase, everyone will be excited to move to implementation; however, we have the not so small matter of testing to consider. I’ll talk about that in my next tip. Stay tuned!

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