instead of going to session #10, I went up to my room to get a nap. best thing I could’ve done, even though some of the presentations sounded quite interesting. now I feel like a real live human being again, even with just an hour’s sleep, washing my face, and putting up my hair.

I think I even figured out a design for the IT Kitchen wiki while I was dozing; when I woke up, I had a very clear image of what I want. now I just need to see if I can actually do it.

cms 9: content mgt best practices

asking who’s using a CMS, satisfaction.

wacky graphics showing a messed up navigation system.

slide with teeny tiny font. she’s lost her microphone, and she’s not not quite loud enough. hey, she’s asking and now holding the mic…I can hear her!

what it can’t do: write the content (sounds silly, but…. ah, it sounds like our issues with the workforce dev people.), convince reluctant content providers to use the software, set up a workflow/process, stop mission/scope-creep. or do anything about web site governance.

content is the weak link, either missing or duplicative. or just bad writing. providers who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or are too busy. knows just enough to be dangerous. turnover problems. (the longer I work in this biz, the more I see problems as being social rather than technological.)

treat it like a publication, but expected that it’s *always* up to date.

in a perfect world, you’d have writer-editors.

q: but I missed it…oh, who decides on the info arch? (she called it a “no-brainer” but it’s not when you’re trying to develop it…what she meant is that it’s a nobrainer that you need one, but not to create.) should be created by a team. (gah. committees!)

her freaking slides have too small text and she talks too fast.

give web projects equal priority & budget with print.

design should take back seat to content, standards, accessibility.

“dynamic running calendar” — our calendar is crufty and weird, but it does work for that, at least.

she keeps coming back to that one point: keep content managers focused on content not design. but HOW? also suggests outsourcing programming project “black holes” — odd.

mentions the Krug book. that’s definitely the classic of the genre.

I wish I’d gone to take a nap instead of this, esp since my hands are just tweaking out.

asked if people had web governance, and I don’t know what she means by that term. I think there was a question about governance committees with people who don’t know anything…you’re doooooomed.

switched to a guy; dude he has a loud voice.

Veen quote; but of course. this is all part of the CMS meme of the day.

they have a home-grown CMS.

cmswatch, which I haven’t followed in a while.

he’s going to be covering requirements definition. again with the tiny font, reading his damn slides. nothing annoys me more.

don’t start by researching features of exisitng products. interview users/stakeholders, once you know who they are.

6-9 months from starting analysis to selecting a product, if you build your own, give 20%-40% of dev time to analysis.

I’ve been warping off from the presentation…boring boring boring. Victoria, Aus., cms requirements definition report/tool, tho, that might be worth looking into.

there’s a lot of info on their site, but the presentation isn’t all that engaging. or maybe I’m just too brain-dead.

susan mentions a book called “software requirements”

a little fresh air

I’m sitting out on the patio in the middle of the hotel, and yes, the wifi reaches out here. the laptop is a little hard to read, but it’s worth it just to get some sun & fresh air.

Susan & I went for a quick walk around the hotel during one of the breaks earlier today, and I realized it was the first time I’d been outside since I got here Sunday evening.

I hear of other people skipping stuff to nap or whatever, but I just don’t want to miss anything, even though my brain is totally melting. I told someone at lunch that I was just madly taking notes in the hope that I’d remember and learn something later. hey, it worked for webvisions, right?

(oh, quicktags turned back on when I re-enabled javascript. fascinating.)

mea8: web metrics

gotta take good notes this time: Susan asked me to fill her in while she’s in the XML forms presentation.

it’s a panel (3 women, including the last presenter I saw, and one guy, for those paying attention), 4 web people from new york state. they’re hoping for answers from us, too. almost everybody here is working with some sort of metrics.

phrases & meanings are fluid; not just server logs (and what you can/can’t do with them) but other kinds of measurements.

dictionary-style definition of metric. usually quantitative, should always be consistent in both method & interval. possible distinction between metrics & analytics.

why use? is anybody visiting the web site?! improve understanding of user behavior. (slides have the points she’s covering) something to deal with problem people: “important” site with only 3 visitors. 🙂

what is server log? recorded http requests, can get very big. not particularly human-readable. empire state uses extended format. includes every object: a series of hits for a single page, one for the html, for each of the images, stylesheets, etc.

specific view of what is in a specific item. rfc931? for multiple domains on the same server (she didn’t know; was a comment from the audience!). IP, authuser if any, date, the actual request (page), code (was it successful. 200 is good.), files size in bytes. that’s the common log, which is what we used to have. IP is what’s used by programs to determine visitors, date is used for determining sessions (in combo with IP).

extended includes…referrer (if clicked on link from previous page; blank if typed in directly or via bookmarks. particularly useful for search engine terms…which I mentioned in my presentation re: Google used internally.), user-agent (browser/OS), processing time (to render), cookies if any, translated URL (is that specific to domino? what other fields are used by specific servers?)

example from WebTrends (what I use, tho I hve an old version), that’s a familiar looking report.

geneseo, talking about WT, getting people to understand difference between hit & page view. pretty graphs. some faculty are very popular: one is in top 20 for last month! can see use of authenticated sites. she’s been able to do it excluding on-campus computers, which is something I’ve had a hell of a time with.

problem with exploit on Windows/IIS related to errors that show up in webtrends.

browser reporting reliability? she doesn’t find it very reliable, but is just going with standards.

filtering for spiders/webbots? can be done, but not in this report. I should try that, see if it makes a difference. educating users about that (googlebot!) and the hits/page views issue.

deceptive results. (I really want to find that article from the analog guy, but I’m having bad google luck.) spider/bots. distinct sites as separate reports. big sites can eat up the results of reports. they (the guy) breaks reports into internal/external, not perfect (fac/staff @ home) but useful. so much do I need to do that to deal with the PY labs effect.

other deceptive thing is cache. log should be treated as a sample.

unique visitor stuff is wildly unreliable. AOL & Earthlink in particular, because of dynamic IP. same deal with time, length of visit. authentication is only server-based authentication, not scripting-based.

q: filtering on-campus, addtl filtering for specific machines? moving target, having to assume that the data isn’t complete, etc. treat it as relative. one person has subdomains for parts of campus, so they can filter labs, etc. audience member talks about not using filtering, because of constantly changing info. response: helps to keep filters consistent.

comment from aud: accuracy of timing. apparently Urchin can use js to do more specific user tracking. for authentication, can set in header of PHP, etc. (well, that makes sense. I don’t know what I’d *do* with it, but it’s interesting.) comment from woman from Buffalo: one of many tools. also, don’t use for precise measuring.

can also make primitive homemade tools for analyzing specific terms.

pause while switching screens. (guy from Hamilton) narrow tracking: campaigns. most success with analyzing small bits of site over short periods of time.

case study of stories on home page using mouseover sillhouetes (sp?!): theories about how they were used, which ones get clicked on? they ran reports, page query terms (because they were generated dynamically from the database), created homegrown tool to do comparison. no difference in visits because of shapes, colors, highlighting: couldn’t predict which, so it looked like people were mousing over all & picking ones that interested them. surprising was middle-of-the-road stories: ordinary students doing well. not sure they capitalized on it.

case study: navigation. had tab-based, slightly different for portal users, on-campus but not logged in, and off-campus. lots of complaints about navigation. looked at DHTML menus to get rid of tabs, problems with the library people 🙂 (“you should be happy with being on the academic services page”), they have very short menus. very little off-campus use of the library (but they are a live-in college in a small town). click thru analysis of their home page. athletics site jumped way up when added to home navigation. people are going deeper from the home page into the site, in particular in the admissions area.

q: is it easy to track clickthroughs in Urchin? complications because of their use of tech. follow page at a time. he thinks there’s a lot of garbage in it! comment from audience that there’s a specific report for that, but it’s inaccurate.

q: menus accessible? degrade gracefully (and I just tested it myself, works well).

search results.

internal searches. he uses a homegrown search engine (they are CF people), query gets dumped in database then goes through to webinator. oncampus: my hamilton, library, blackboard, maps, email. originally didn’t link to their portal, and searches for the term went way up, so they added links. like us with the blackboard stuff. their search includes both their directory and their web search.

(where the hell did my quicktags go?)

off-campus search engine referrals. some weird stuff. “tasty d lite” and monopoly instructions?! I mentioned our discovery about using Google for internal searching, someone else mentions a staff page that people still ask for a lot. other colleges with the same name!

q: what about those weird pages, can you do anything to make them lower? it’s an academic page, so they’re hands off. would like to have more effect on ordering with subsites, but never has the time.

(okay, now the mocha’s wearing off. and my brain is broken.)

empire state was able to capture unsuccessful results, but bug in method? something mysterious that happened in a server upgrade that they fixed. becoming an interesting/helpful tool. how much is misspelling? (thank goodness for google!) found a lot of acronyms she didn’t know about. (military people!) “they can bloody well learn to spell”? but what about people like Elizabeth, for whom google’s respelling function is a lifesaver.

more problems with metrics stuff. case-sensitivity problem with Apache (Unix) vs. IIS (Windows) and Urchin, showing both versions (upper/lower) as separate results. empire state says almost all programs are case-sensitive, her server admin did something to make the whole log lowercase.

q: webtrends is so expensive! she’s just using a single-user version (under $1000). comment: reason why switched to Urchin. (that’s why I haven’t upgraded it in nearly 3 years; I wonder if that’s why my filtering problems are so frustrating.)

guy in front of me is using Deep Log Analyzer.

q: how do you explain to users how to use the reports? one-on-one meeting to show them the reports and explain them. one of buffalo’s training sessions is on how to use reports. (Urchin)

comment: live-time server version of webtrends crashed their web server; now they’re looking into a 3rd party system (web side story) that doesn’t use server logs, priced by pageview. (live-time seems like overkill to me.)

comment: explaining to users about sitename/ sitename/index.html etc. being the same thing. they’ve had “interesting adventures” with that issue too.

geography stats are crap. (back at UWPC, 60%+ of our traffic looked like it was coming from virginia)

I missed something there because of a sidebar discussion re: the geography problem.

are we taking a break? need to stretch.

other data sources: missed the list. but I can guess.

other @ geneseo: survey, webmaster email, helpdesk. just starting to look at helpdesk questions. (in our case, what about the receptionist? helpdesk? student services?)

survey related to portal project, both what they’re doing now and what they want in the future. they had great turnout. search is not good; students asking for portal-type functions. long survey. their navigation is successful, lots of suggestions re: graphics, etc. going to faculty next week. can get results from her! using a survey tool, the one from VT. I’m noticing that lots of people are doing stuff with java/tomcat. I wonder if that’s because of the whole uPortal thing. (why isn’t the wa cc system looking at that instead of that crazy heidi project thing?!)

contact form like ours, but they have radio buttons to do some introductory funneling. uses a perl script to mine the email for common things, using it to generate a FAQ until portal is up. example: how to get a transcript. we had the same issue, and I found it the same way. she doesn’t get those emails at all any more; I still get some, but way less than we used to.

comment: use the form to actually give them the data right there.

q: what about the text boxes? we’ll just have to read. (sounds like our survey….20 pages of comments. but y’know, that was incredibly useful.)

comment: likes surveymonkey.

buffalo metrics toolbox: also uses usability studies, focus groups.

(can I make it coherently through this last halfhour? I feel like I’m melting down.)

partnered with psych faculty for focus groups!

keeps all the webmaster mail in a database. (her voice is too quiet to not be miked.)

uses Zoomerang for surveys.

took a stretch/bathroom break. woman from buffalo is still talking; I think it’s something about analyzing their search results (ultraseek?).

they do usability studies en masse, a bunch of students in a lab. uses a questionnaire. (I should ask her about that when I write for the training info.)

again, focus groups are done with faculty moderators. interesting, much like Lynn running our card sorts. they do sessions with both fac/staff & with students. more qualitative, get the aha! moments. faculty tabulated. I wonder if we could do that with business/marketing faculty, or even students. also a good way to identify stakeholders.

q: were focus groups recorded? all taped (audio?), also with the followup reports.

call for general questions: am I the only one out of it?

q: how do you get to that google stuff? I talked about how we saw it in our webtrends reports, also availability thru google. somebody else said that the referrer address includes which are which (internal/external).

I’ve missed a few things looking at stuff on our site.

comment: searching is a predominate finding behavior. help them search!

csd7: journey to content management

trying valiantly to wake up. had a mocha this morning, because I knew there was no way I’d make it through the morning otherwise. not a very *good* mocha, but it’s helping.

she has an excellent speaking style, is working to engage the audience: hand-raising, questioning.

they were all self-publishing, fully decentralized, even more than us, it sounds like.

first position created in ’99, just before that they created an advisory committee, organized their self-publishers, and then ownership of the Web went to college relations. same sort of “partnership” that we have w/IT. directors/dept heads were the default contacts for web sites, but could delegate.

she has pretty good slides for powerpoint. still bullet points, but also cute pictures, occassional slides with big quotes.

then they added more staff: maintenance person & graphic designer. they were in our stage, with the web office doing custom subsites for lots of different departments. slow turnaround, problems with maintenance.

faculty tech support center was doing training in lots of stuff, little training sessions. a lot like our lava java. they formed a partnership. (maybe we should do that.)

did a survey among developers: 0% always referred to their web standards; 19% edited pages less than once a semester; 20% not familiar with the ADA. (and that’s a *big* deal in new york state.) 10-course training program. (I’d like to see the full survey results, maybe do something similar with our various folks.) “webmaster training program” list of curriculum, some tech, some design, some standards stuff. very cool listing, reminds me of some of the things I’d put in my dream web design curriculum. I want to find out more!!! could take a year & a half to go through the whole program, they cut it in half with their new CMS — oh, writing for the web is the first, and mandatory class.

training meant that they got to spend a lot of time with their distributed publishers, built community. no more “over my dead body”. their focus with CMS was templates, being able to create a new site in a day. I think she just lost her train of thought. 🙂

evaluated 9 packages. Ingeniux was their choice, looks like Outlook, form-based editing.

implementation. 8 designs, 4 dept, 4 office, developed in coordination with clients. many months for implementation. picked beta testers to work through designs. (I wonder if I could start with the pieces I did for Brian B. & the faculty sites.) outsourced the CSS work. tried to keep good communication, esp. with launch dates, etc. named the designs.

tight, simple designs. content-focused, at least what I can see from here.

fun kickoff with food! beta-testers were there as representatives. short training sessions post-kickoff. constantly talking up the new system.

selling the cms. easy, short (cool?) URLs, default sites available. “database feeds”?

question: resistance? no, not really; she’ll come back to that. those people haven’t confronted her. not running off to take the template class, but….

(just looking at it, I’m not seeing the templates in a lot of the academic departments…oh, hey, RSS feeds!)

less than half have adopted since the end of March. what can they do to get better adoption? (37 out of 77 sites are in CMS) switching to templates/CMS means they can focus on the actual content, esp. in their training, but also in support. moved their main site to the CMS too.

q: I couldn’t hear it; custom templates? not at this point, but they’re willing to be flexible. listen, take it all in; if it warrants a special site, sure; can do all that, or it can be done today! (using existing templates)

q: how complex are the sites? tried to make it flexible. max depth is 3 levels, had a few problems but it’s an opportunity to have a content consultation to actually improve the contents so it doesn’t need too many levels. templates are designed to look good either with long lots-of-content pages or with short low-content pages.

q: database? system doesn’t have its own database, but hooks into Oracle. (I can barely hear the questioner.)

q: what web metric package? Urchin. (she’s going to cover that at the 10 am system.)

q: what about offices with good developers? still have self-publishing, not a mandate to use cms. how many self-pub vs. cms? half and half; a handful are doing good work, but they still have people who probably should switch. (I’d be curious about those people and how they are approaching them.)

q: 8 months: how much was template design, how much to get workflow? not using workflow now, tho the package allows for it. content remains an issue, fixing mistakes, etc. doing more consultation work with content vs. design. css took about a week. needed vendor support to get templates working? no, not really; get good support, but it’s more of a discussion. creating/evolving the designs took the most time, not the actual creation. they were working with mockups initally.

q: cost? can’t talk about it, but reasonable. (wtf is reasonable?)

q: navigation & info arch in Ingenuix? start with default sites with basic navigation, works for most departments. (really?) can add stuff if they want to. for Susan, it never matches a basic set, a lot of things are specific to each office, how do you deal with that? and yeah, in *offices* it is that way, but office adoption is higher than department adoption. flexibility seems to be working for them. the dummy site for offices is very, very generic.

q: can’t hear…does the non-CMS stuff get isolated in search & other ways? still one community, not providing disincentives. doing more highlighting with CMS people, focusing on incentives.

another question I couldn’t hear. hm, she sends (sent?) a monthly email newsletter. I should go back to my quicktips idea. I don’t know what the question was, but she’s talking about trust and comfort.

q: non-CMS sites — are you going after them? targeting people with no presence or damaging presence. “have you heard of our templates?” handful of people who have no sites, but stuff going on, or same deal with very out of date sites.

q: cross-platform? yes, works on Mac too, with download/plugin.

this was the best session so far.

csd6: aka me

I think it went well, but I don’t know. I just have such a massive sense of relief that it’s hard to experience anything else. only lost my train of thought a couple of times, and recovered quickly. S5 worked great, too. I didn’t cover everything that I said in my practice versions, but I was going almost entirely w/out my notes.

now I want a nap: do I have enough time before dinner?

mea5: project management

Aimee Lewis, Warner School, URochester
running off her vita, lots of school experience (nearly 100 sites)

asking about who people are in the audience (project mgr, designer, marketing, IT: can I raise my hand on everything?)

looks like this a redesign session. their old site (as of 2 yrs ago) was from 1997! 3 pages (in word) of “quick links” shows old site. mmmm, spinning apple gif.

she was the first web person there ever. had to figure out what to do, what is the scope, who are the key players?

always need research “whether you have six months or two weeks”

creative briefs: research about the school’s identity — is that a branding thing? I want an example!

mission, insight from faculty/staff. sounds like an overall branding process. “what is warner?”

know the audience…narrow it down. she did 45 hours of focus groups! (I’m still doubtful about that in our case. our audiences really are very diverse, and how can we narrow them? should that even be a goal? we have to talk about audiences plural.) realization for them that graduate school is a different kind of student than new undergraduates. (age difference and all that.)

audience profiles; is that like personas? yep. “narratives that you can share with others to make sure you understand the audience.” they had five.

then follows up with user scenarios: paths for audience profiles. or basically, what would your personas do when they get to your site.

competitors: who are your peers? what are they doing? (TCC, Green River, SPSCC, Bates, Clover Park for most students. but what about international students?)

know limits and assets. they had no staff, knowledge, database. but they did have a budget.

get a team: hey, smart hard-working people! they have an ongoing team, huge variety of people, including problem people.

success has to be measurable. (what are our metrics? I should go to that session tomorrow.) cute Dilbert: webbish but not too webbish.

their definition: more applications, new design & easier navigation, sections for audiences, more traffic, up-to-date content, positive feedback, under budget. these are outputs, not outcomes. what would the outcomes be related to this?

need a deadline! hey, that sounds familiar. I’m beginning to think that there’s an amazing amount of native knowledge here among the webbish in education, because almost everybody I’ve talked to has said something about a redesign, and a lot of the activities are similar.

write up a plan: direction/scope, research, schedule, metrics. get sign-off (buy-in?).

asked about wireframes. real big among folks here too. reminds me about Christina Wodke’s (and that guy) presentation at webvisions…problems with wireframes…need to find those notes!

little tiny font on design slide. all focused around working with an external designer, which doesn’t fit for me. I am the woman of many hats!

create more than one design. (that’s what I did early on, and it worked really well.) more focus group stuff; I don’t hear anything about usability testing here.

new design…( pretty, but uses the evil javascript quick links, not valid, a few little accessibility probs. (missing alt text on some spacers, I think.) a nice design that could use a few touches to make it really spectacular, IMHO.

very good results: doubled site traffic, increase in applications, went from less than 500 pgs content to about 5000, good anecdotal results from focus groups, reduced phone calls. and way under budget.

plan, research, set goals, use what you learn, then evaluate.

maintenance? her & another part-time person, looking at getting contribute. a lot of content came from revised print publications.

taking a break

I decided to sit out this session. nothing really trips my trigger, and I need a bit of a space where I’m not trying to write a million words a minute.

one of the interesting things about this conference, much better than the sessions so far, has been the networking. I’ve met more web people from Washington state in the last 2 days than I have in the last 4 years, and I know there are at least 2 more of us kicking around. (2 other presenters!) so perhaps this little experience will be the nub of a conclave in our neck of the woods. I’m hoping, anyway.

and even the people I’ve met from outside of WA have been, well, neato. lots of good stories & chit chat: last night I hung out in the hospitality lounge and ended up talking D&D, old kid’s TV shows, early geek culture, video games, and world religions with a bunch of nerds.

our gender-concerned members of the audience will also note that there are lots of women here; so far, all the presenters I’ve seen have been men, but that’s just been my luck. the total ratio looks closer to 40% women presenters, which is nice to see after all the other conferences one hears about. maybe it’s the education focus.

fyi: I actually added a category for all this stuff, so you can get to all my HEWD notes at

csd 3: accessible forms

a little more awake post-lunch. Andrew from Indiana U is a library guy!

had a quick chat with the woman from the W3C. (cool tiny laptop.) she encouraged me to complain to MS about the FP/Word thing.

hey, he’s using S5 too!

why accessibility…if I were him, I’d just refer back to the keynote, since she covered all that stuff. damn, why do these presenters always spend so much time on the introductory stuff?

table-based layout for forms: can be problematic linearizing. a code example would be useful here. css layout is better; why? because closer. place text/labels to the left of controls. (I thought that radios & checkboxes should have labels to the right?)

not as hard as you think (css layout) — but no resources for how to make it less hard. that’s the overall problem with css advocacy in general, and I’m as guilty of that as anyone. it is hard once you get into it.

(if I were doing this presentation, I’d do 2-5 examples, making inaccessible forms accessible. oh, wait, it looks like that’s what he’s getting ready to do.)

3 examples of the same form layout: one with inaccessible tables, one with accessible tables, and the third with spans.

labels, increasing clickability, Fitt’s law. another example.

and then he shows a form with the radio buttons: yeah, the labels are on the right here. and then another example using the label tag. interesting: he changes the pointer for hovering on the labels. which browsers does that work on?

alternate text on image buttons (not that I ever do that).

on error messages, don’t just use color (same deal with required fields, I would assume) — but color can be useful, too. change field color on focus. (our directory does that.) interesting in that usable/accessible forms can include enhancements: the general concept of progressive enhancement.

more tags! fieldset, legend, optgroup. “most modern support” — I think they all do, it’s just a question of whether you can restyle them. nested fieldsets. question about optgroup and screenreaders: he doesn’t know, no regular access to screenreader. complains about pricing of Jaws.

the keynote speaker talked about what they can do, apparently there’s an email forum thread on the topic.

make sure forms function w/out JavaScript. as with color, some good things you can do and some things are just evil.

he like the cursor being focused via js; I *hate* that, because I use the backspace so much for navigation.

question: do these techniques validate? yes, and they’re what you’re supposed to be doing.

question: dropdown example to not use, what would you do instead? wouldn’t do it anyway, but if he did, would use a real form, cgi & button. more general question about dropdowns (list of states), ’cause it’s not navigation, it’s not necessarily evil, this is an issue with scripting, not the actual tag. (on the other hand, it’s not that hard to validate a 2-item text box.)

quick discussion of tab order. only need to set if your “natural” tab order doesn’t make sense. (I think it’s easier just to make sure your tab order is logical naturally.)

and then accesskeys. oy, they are just a nightmare, is what I remember. (we used to use them and I’ve given up on them.) and he brings that up: the conflicts between the builtin programmatic keys and accesskeys. “in theory, communism works” essentially.

favorite form pages? see links on the page that goes with his presentation.

question from keynote speaker: can you tell what is required and what is optional? he rambles, but basically mentions all the HTML stuff as more important, other stuff is just nifty.