Blog

Good day, everyone. This blog entry is the first installment in a monthly series of updates I will give you about the College's website redesign, establishment of an intranet, and roll-out of new web templates for CHS units. I will also be sending this blog content as a monthly email to College leadership as well as to its unit chairs so they are in-the-know on progress and expectations.

TL;DR (too long; didn't read)

  • College homepage mock-up drafted
  • When available, Logan Bishop will help units with web support for existing sites; Jen will focus on new sites
  • New web framework has been chosen: Bootstrap
  • Jen learning new responsivity/layout techniques
  • To get ready for transition, units can (1) archive old web content, (2) make web documents ADA accessible, and (3) upgrade current images where possible

Where we are

Homepage drafted. A mock-up of the new external-facing CHS homepage was completed and shown to CHS leadership in September. CHS leadership approved the layout and aesthetic of the page. 

Support in place. When he is available, Logan Bishop, an IT analyst in HASTECH, will be helping manage web operations by assisting units with site updates and support while I focus on coding and production in the months ahead of the launch. Logan will also be inventorying web documents and reaching out to document authors with resources on how to make them ADA compliant ahead of the transition. Units requiring web support services should continue to use the College's web updates form and the webmaster email (chswebmaster@vcu.edu) during this time. Logan is taking on these tasks in addition to an already full plate, so we ask for patience in turnaround times for non-urgent requests.

Framework chosen. Because of its high degree of responsivity across a number of screen sizes and its wide support across a number of browsers, I have decided on using the Bootstrap framework for the new sites. 

Learning new skills. I have been spending some time learning the new grid layout for CSS (and reviewing some earlier techniques I have learned and forgotten) so that I can apply the principles to the layout of the new sites. The grid system uses a series of containers, rows, and columns to lay out and align content that is fully responsive to the various screen sizes we must accommodate in 2018. I am completing a Bootstrap review/tutorial so I am familiar with as much of its functionalities as possible ahead of making some page layouts. I will also be meeting with Web Services this week to go over how to best integrate the framework with T4 and  how to use some of the T4 developer tools I haven't had the pleasure of working with before.

What units can be doing now to prepare for the transition to a new site

  1. Housecleaning! Take this opportunity to archive your old news, announcements, and events. Make sure your content is up-to-date, and that quality assurance (broken links, misspellings) and accessibility errors are kept to a minimum.
  2. Conduct a web document inventory. Documents that do not meet ADA accessibility standards will not be migrated to the new sites. Please reference my original email from September which contains further information on how you can meet this requirement.
  3. Upgrade images. The use of new retina displays is increasing all the time and means low resolution photos look even worse than they used to (and they have always looked quite bad). One of the best and easiest things you can do to improve your site aesthetic is to use good quality photos (especially SVGs). Here is a list of eight free photo sites that do not require attribution. For photos of faculty and staff, be sure to use only those that are good quality if they are to be posted on a website.

Still have questions? Do not hesitate to contact me anytime and I will do my best to clarify progress.