Here is your chance to improve the ICS website during the “soft launch” period. 

What’s happened

The new website represents almost 1 year of effort, involving:

  • Migration of content from Plone to WordPress (involving one external contractor).
  • Migration of platform from our own servers to ITS.
  • Development of an ICS logo (involving a second external contractor).
  • Development of a new theme for the site (involving a third external contractor).
  • Creation of “professional” photos of faculty and staff (involving a fourth external contractor).
  • Development of a responsive layout (so that site is more usable on tablet and mobile devices).
  • Development of hierarchical menus to provide easier access to important content.

People Page

The first, and perhaps most controversial page to review: the People page.  I understand that this page contains a personal representation of you, and the goal is to provide something that makes both you and the department look good. 

I also know from speaking with various faculty that there are very divergent opinions on the “professional photos”.  Some of us like these photos and the resulting page, and think that the result projects a much more positive image of the department. Others of us dislike the new photos and resulting page and think it decreases our originality.   What to do, given this polarization?

I propose the following as an attempt at a “common middle ground”:

  1. You can choose to not have a photo.
  2. You can choose to change your photo at any time. 
  3. You can choose a photo not taken by the professional photographer.  However, to adhere to the common middle ground, please provide a photo with a “similar look and feel” to the photos already on the page, which means: (a) it can be resized to 300 x 300 pixels without blurring your image; (b) it has a light background; and (c) it is a headshot where the head occupies approximately the same percentage of the image size as the other photos on the page.  It is pretty easy to satisfy these constraints. For example, Cam Moore’s photo was taken in the hallway with an iPhone.

This is a proposal, not a mandate. The ultimate decision rests with the faculty as a whole, not with me.   If you want to propose a different approach, please feel free to suggest it.

Also on that page, please review the data associated with you (specialties, coordinates). Send me any changes. 

Finally, review the link(s) provided (if any) when mousing over your photo.   Is your home page URL correct?  Send me any changes.  Note that it is possible to provide multiple links. Mouse over the photo of Philip Johnson to see three links (home page, github page, linked in).  If you want multiple links, provide me with them.

Home page

Next, take a look at the home page. This is first (and often only) page that visitors will see, so it is important to provide a positive impression.  

I believe that the carousel has a lot of unrealized potential.   Rather than the current random sequence of photos, it would be great if it had a narrative structure–if it told some kind of story about the department.  If you would like to work on such a “story”, please contact me.

Navigation bar

Now review the navigation bar. Does it provide access to the right pages? Are there pages that should appear in the nav bar that don’t? Any other ideas for improvement?

Potpourri

Now take a look at any pages that interest you from the nav bar.  After some experimentation, I’ve decided to use the <blockquote> element as a standard way of “introducing” the content of pages.  This results in a vertical green bar to the left of the text.

There is a section of the site not accessible from the nav bar called the “internal” area.  This area is not private, but it is slightly hidden so that casual visitors don’t spend time on it. It is where we can put public policy documents and other material of non-general interest.  Please review and provide comments.  An alternative is to provide password protection for pages, but I wonder if the hassles that creates are worth the benefits. Your thoughts?

A note about the ICS Tech Report Library

The old version of the ICS website had a page with links to tech report libraries maintained by various ICS Labs, as well as a “catch-all” page listing abstracts and links to other reports not covered in this way. The new site has a public tech report page containing links to the lab sites, but the new page does not contain a link to the “ICS tech report library page”.   I have created  this page (internal) containing the text of the former ICS Tech Report Library page.  The reason why I don’t include this page in the public area is because many of the links no longer work,  and the formatting leaves much to be desired, and a significant amount of work needs to be done if the page is to be made “public”.

There are two ways to resolve this. The first way is to manually update all the links. The problem is that if we simply replicate this page again, we are going to have the same problem in a few years when we redesign the ICS website again.  A second way is to use a technology more suited to the creation of technical report libraries, such as the UHM Scholarspace environment.  If we go this direction, then we have “outsourced” the ICS tech report library and no longer need to worry about it.

Volunteers for future website maintenance?

I took on this website migration project almost one year ago, and it has required a tremendous amount of time.   If one or more of you would like to volunteer to take on some responsibility for maintaining the site going forward, please let me know.