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February 23, 2009

The Web Development Blog is moving!

As some of you have heard, I'm leaving University Marketing and Communications, and will be doing freelance Web design and consulting. But that doesn't mean I'll stop blogging. It just means that I'm moving the blog to a new location at http://www.heidicool.com/blog/.

February 15, 2009

MKTG 101: Web Content Should Serve Visitor Needs

Some new Twitter users want to help me get rich, find peace with my life and help me tap my inner invisible pink unicorn to be spiritually one with the universe. I know this because they post links telling me they can make this happen if I buy their books and CD's or read their blogs. They just never tell me exactly HOW this is supposed to happen.

January 29, 2009

MKTG 101: Social Media Marketing is still marketing—know your audience

Social Media Marketing is hip. It seems like everyone wants to get involved, call themselves an expert and use the magical powers of social media to triple sales, recruit students, etc. But social media isn't magic. Social media, like advertising, direct mail and telemarketing is but one of many tools in the marketer's toolbox. Like any tool it needs to be used in the proper context—in conjunction with other marketing strategies. As such social media—when used for marketing—still relies on basic marketing principles such as understanding your target audience, the features and benefits of your product or service, brand awareness and so forth.

January 11, 2009

2 Top 5 Lists = 1 Top Ten List: My most read Web Development Blog entries from 2008

Now that the New Year has been rung in, it seems that the meme of the moment is to blog about the year in review. So I thought I'd follow suit. I looked over my blog entries to see if I'd trended towards any new themes for 2008. While I have written more on social media this year (who hasn't?) I quickly noted that my topics overall continued to range across a wide array of Web related subjects. Next I looked at my stats to see which articles were getting the most traffic and comments.

December 29, 2008

Social Media is People (but more enriching than Soylent Green*)

Everyone wants to know how to take advantage of social media. Whether it's to promote a business or an academic program, it's not unusual to hear people as, "How should we be using Twitter?" or "What should we do with Facebook?" The questions often focus on the tools, but as I've mentioned before, in Social Media: Your Interactive Information Resource, social media is about making connections—human connections. While this has been apparent to me for sometime, it's become increasingly clear over the past month. So rather than writing a typical how-to or advice article, today I'll just tell you about two recent events that really drive this message home.

December 09, 2008

5 Tips to ensure your readers can read your HTML e-mail messages

As the semester winds down, and the holiday season encroaches, it seems there are more and more events to publicize, greetings to send, end-of-year newsletters to distribute, holiday sales to promote, etc. T'is the season for HTML e-mails. Alas, as many of you know, creating and distributing an HTML e-mail message is far more complicated than building a regular Web site. As we struggled in the days of the browser wars, today we struggle with the myriad ways popular e-mail programs support HTML. Anyone who has had to create an HTML e-mail message, or has received one they couldn't read, knows what I mean. So today I'll present five tips that should help to make your e-mails readable by the masses.

November 09, 2008

An URL by any other name would still work like an URL, part 2: length doesn't matter

Last month, when I wrote about subdomains, I promised to find out more regarding the question of URL length. Site owners had been telling me that their URLs were too long for users to type and that this was keeping people from responding to their direct mail campaigns. Typically the URLs in question were 30-40 characters in length. These don't seem excessively long if you consider that even a short domain name such as www.case.edu takes 12 characters itself. But it did make me wonder if anyone had studied the role URL length plays in direct mail response rates.

October 28, 2008

Should you or should you not have links open in a new window/tab?

Last week's entry on outbound links spawned a lot of discussion, including the question of whether one should have outbound links open in a new window (or tab depending on the user's browser and preferences). Although many others have already written about this topic, it comes up often enough that I think it is worth discussing. Disclaimer: links that open in a new window or tab—when that wasn't my choice—are a pet peeve of mine, but I will attempt to explore the topic objectively.

October 21, 2008

Afraid of outbound links? Don't be.

"The site looks great. But could you take out the links? I'm afraid people will follow them before they apply to our program/sign up for our event/read the installation instructions/etc." I don't hear this as often as I once did, but it still comes up often enough that it's worth addressing. So today I'll try to dispel some myths about Web stickiness and outbound links.

October 13, 2008

Northeast Ohio Resources for Blogging, Social Media and Web Development

The other day journalist Jimi Izrael sent out an e-mail about a new blogging class he's teaching at Tri-C. It occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity for those of you (in Greater Cleveland) who are thinking of taking up blogging. It also made me think that this would be a good time to share some of the other great resources available to bloggers, Web developers and those interested in social media in Northeast Ohio. Whether you want to take a class or network with others in the field, here are some things that may be of interest.

October 04, 2008

An URL by any other name would still work like an URL, part 1: subdomains

Over the past weeks, I've been getting a lot of questions and comments about URLs and naming conventions. Here are a few typical queries: Department X has the address http://departmentx.case.edu. Our address is http://www.case.edu/school/foobar/foobar.html. Can you change our address to http://foobar.case.edu? How can we get a shorter address for our page? Our long URL is wreaking havoc with our marketing. Our site has a long address that we've been printing in our mailings. We're not getting as much traffic as we hoped because the name is too long to type. How can we shorten it?

September 16, 2008

Social Media: Your Interactive Information Resource

In prior reflections on social media, I've mentioned how services such as Facebook, de.licio.us, Twitter, etc. can be effective marketing tools. Much of this has to do with the fact that they foment two-way communication. When we join these communities and services we participate in a dialogue between our friends and contacts.

July 23, 2008

Blogs: The Many Voices of a University

Sunday afternoon I skibbled off to Atlantic City to attend EduWeb 2008, a conference for Web development professionals in higher education.

June 18, 2008

Tips for installing Google Analytics on Case and other Web servers.

There comes a time in every Web maintainer's life when the boss or client asks to see the Web stats for the past 6 months/year/5 years or what have you. Ideally you or your server administrator set this up long ago; you—being equally keen to understand the usage patterns of your site, and to use that knowledge to improve your content—check them on a regular basis, and can provide the information immediately. Then again, if you've been busy building and updating sites, this may be one of those projects that has been patiently waiting on your to-do list. If your server doesn't have analytics software pre-installed, and you've not yet installed any yourself, now—before the boss asks—is the time to do so.

June 08, 2008

Plurk: Social Media Marketing in Action

Something interesting happened last Sunday. Plurk, a new social network, grew it's subscriber base from a handful of beta users to over 2,000 in one day. Since then they've continued to grow exponentially. As a marketer, and one of the 2,000+, I think it's been a fascinating process to watch. In this one week we've seen some very effective marketing strategies in action. Back in March I shared my reflections on social media networking and marketing, but that was more a tale of slow growth. Plurk's rapid growth gives us a chance to look at some of the techniques they used and see how effective they can be.

May 28, 2008

Meme: How has blogging impacted your work?

While driving home tonight I began pondering this week's blog entry. As I considered various topics, my mind wandered back to the events of the day—events that included more than the usual number of e-mail and phone calls, many of which included some mention of the blog. Sitting in traffic I started thinking about how this blog has impacted the work I do here at Case Western Reserve. This in turn made me wonder how blogging impacts others. To find out I'm starting this meme.

May 20, 2008

Things we can learn from del.icio.us—for use in our marketing endeavors

Last week, while catching up on podcasts, I listened to Can Social Networking Build Your Brand?, Jason Schwartz's presentation from SXSW Interactive 2007 (View his slideshow). Jason crammed a lot of interesting ideas into his 25 minute presentation (to which you should listen), but his references to de.licio.us, similicio.us and Technorati got me thinking about what a tremendous resource de.licio.us can be.

May 18, 2008

Uploading files with Dreamweaver (WebDAV)

If you've been using Dreamweaver to upload files to a Web server using FTP, and you're about to start using WebDAV—either because of the Case Web server upgrade or because you're looking for a more secure protocol than FTP—you'll find that using WebDAV with Dreamweaver is quite similar to using FTP. Simply follow the directions below to configure your sites.

Uploading files with the WebDrive WebDAV client for Windows

Whether you're about to start using WebDAV because of the Case Web server upgrade, or you're just looking for a more secure protocol than FTP, you may have heard that it can be tricky to use on Windows XP or Vista. WebDrive, available to Case faculty, staff and students on the software center, simplifies the process. Those of you in the habit of using stand-alone clients like WS_FTP for transferring files will find this a convenient and easy-to-use alternative.

Uploading files with the WebDrive WebDAV client for Windows

Whether you're about to start using WebDAV because of the Case Web server upgrade, or you're just looking for a more secure protocol than FTP, you may have heard that it can be tricky to use on Windows XP or Vista. WebDrive, available to Case faculty, staff and students on the software center, simplifies the process. Those of you in the habit of using stand-alone clients like WS_FTP for transferring files will find this a convenient and easy-to-use alternative.

May 15, 2008

Introduction to WebDAV

Here at Case Western Reserve University, we're about to upgrade our primary Web server. Part of this upgrade involves changing the way we upload content to the server. Where in the past we've been using FTP, beginning Monday, May 19, 2008, we'll be using WebDAV. WebDAV has been growing in popularity over the last few years and is now provided as an option by many Web hosting providers. Those of you using FTP on Case or other Web servers may wish to check with your network administrator or Web hosting provider to see if other protocols such as WebDAV are available.

May 13, 2008

The Web server upgrade happens May 19, 2008. Are you ready?

The main Case Web server, Aurora, will be upgraded on May 19th. If you're an end user you shouldn't notice a thing, but if you maintain a Web site on this server there are a few things you should prepare for. If you maintain a Case site and have not read about the upgrade in Case Daily and received email notifications from the Aurora managers, please read the following.

May 04, 2008

5 reasons your blog should have an editorial policy

While the medium is different, blogs have much in common with magazines. They're published periodically, can accept subscriptions (via RSS feeds), may (or may not) accept advertising and typically focus on a particular topic or niche. If you blog, you have some notion of your topical area in your head, but have you defined it for your readers? If not, it may be time to take a page from the magazines and define a clear editorial policy for your blog.

April 20, 2008

Embedding YouTube Videos the Standards Compliant Way—SFWobject 2.0

As video becomes easier to produce, more and more people are creating and sharing videso online. Whether you are a professor demonstrating your research, a student working on a film project, or me creating how-to instructions, you've realized that there are times when video can enhance your Web content. Back at the turn of the century, embedding video was complicated. Streaming required a special server, you had to decide what format(s) you wanted to stream, then you had to provide links to whatever software users might need to view your video—in case it wasn't already installed on their computers. With YouTube, that's all changed. Now you can just go to the YouTube page for the video you wish to embed, copy the coding they provide, paste it into your html file or blog entry and publish the page. It's just that easy—unless, like me, you care about adhering to Web standards. In that case, it requires a few more steps, but don't worry, they're not that complicated.

April 15, 2008

Maximize your marketing through blog networks and aggregator sites

Lately I've noticed that I've been subscribing to more and more blog networks/aggregators. As a reader I like these because they help me discover blogs I might not have heard of otherwise. As a blogger and marketer I like the aggregators of which I'm a part or a similar reason; they put my blog in front of new readers -- readers who already have shown an interest in my topic.

April 03, 2008

How did I get by before Firefox Add-Ons?

Last night, whilst catching up on my RSS feeds, I discovered Paul Fenwick's video, "How to Fix the Web with Greasemonkey in 3 minutes." The video offers some clever tips on how one can use the Firefox add-on, Greasemonkey, to make Web sites (not just yours) behave the way you wish. I was particularly amused by the way he made MySpace content disappear. But it also reminded me of just how dependent I am on Firefox add-on's.

March 17, 2008

Reflections on social media networking and marketing

These days everyone seems to be talking about social networking and/or social media marketing. Until fairly recently these were topics for tech nerds and Web marketers, but now more and more people are wondering how they can use Facebook to market their programs or products, or how Twitter can be leveraged as a tool for campus communication. I don't have an immediate answer to such questions, but I thought this would be a good time to reflect a bit on what I've learned about social media.

February 26, 2008

Wayfinding within your Web site

In Your home page is NOT your index; it's your store front, I discussed some of the goals of homepage design and navigation. Today we'll consider how users navigate within the site. As Wayne correctly surmised when commenting on that entry, the pages inside your site are like the aisles or departments within a store. Each page needs to be identified so that users know both where they are and where they can go.

February 14, 2008

Common Craft's Plain English Video Series

Alas, I've not yet finished the article I had planned for this week. In the meantime I highly recommend the amusing and informative videos produced by commoncraft. These easy-to-follow videos cover a variety of Internet related topics and provide a great introduction to everything from RSS to photo sharing.

February 01, 2008

Social media opportunities for Web Developers at Case

Do you ever wish you could network more easily with your fellow Web developers at Case, and beyond? If so, how would you would you want this to work? Would you want to communicate by listserv as the writers do with wordnerds@case.edu? Would you follow discussions on the Case Forums? Or would you want something more robust?

January 16, 2008

Your home page is NOT your index; it's your store front

Space. Designers want to preserve it and clients want to fill it up. Whether you're a designer, a writer or a client you've all participated in this debate. What goes on the home page and what does not?

January 11, 2008

Tips for Nonprofits Meme

Elizabeth Able, of Able Reach Arts and Web Development, recently started a blog meme in support of nonprofits that have an online presence. She asks that we write one tip on ways nonprofits can benefit from having an online presence and have others do the same.

Our new addition

The Office of Marketing and Communications is pleased to welcome Gina Prodan, to our Web development team.

January 03, 2008

CaseLearns: 2008 Spring Semester Classes

Registration is now open for spring classes at CaseLearns. Whether you're building your first Web site, adding a podcast to your blog or just want to learn something fun, CaseLearns has a number of options available.

December 26, 2007

Web Content: Not just YOUR words and pictures

If they read what you write, they may also want to read what you read. Webmasters and bloggers know this. That's why we'll embed links within our text, build pages with links to recommended sites and/or add linkblogs to our side bars. In a world where most of us don't have the time to research and write everything we'd like to share, such resources add value to our existing content and give readers guidance on where to look for additional information.

December 10, 2007

Voice and Tone: Writing to reflect your personality as well as your message (Part 2)

When I first broached this topic in October, I wrote about tone. Today, I'll focus on voice, that certain aspect of writing that conveys the personality and/or style of the writer. Unlike tone -- which is geared to your goal and audience -- voice is about you, the writer. Just as your speaking voice remains recognizable under different circumstances -- whether you're reading stories to small children or arguing about the gift return policy at the mall -- so, too should your written voice.

December 05, 2007

Copy Writing: Long vs. Short, Does it Matter?

Torc waterfall, Killarney National Park Today's my third day back at work after my vacation in Ireland. I have a number of ideas for upcoming entries, but as I started cleaning up the blog comments that came in while I was gone, I saw an interesting question that had been posted on the Web writers: What are we? entry. Mike asked: What role does long form copy writing have in writing B2B copy for the internet? I must say I am confused. The 'weight' (if not quality) of opinion from largely self-proclaimed internet guru writers is that long form...

November 17, 2007

Out of Office

I'll be out of the office until December. If you have questions related to content development for your Case Web site, event postings, news stories or announcements in Case Daily feel free to contact the Office of Marketing and Communications. If you have questions regarding the username and password for your account on the main campus Web server (Aurora) contact webmaster@case.edu. If you need to transfer your account to a new maintainer, fill out an account application form and indicate that it is a transfer. If you have questions about uploading files to your account, review the entry on Uploading...

November 14, 2007

A picture is worth a thousand words, but that's not always enough

How to add captions to images in Photoshop On the Web it is preferable to place your caption in the HTML. If that won't work and your captions are long, you should also link to a place providing a description of the image and an alternative rendering of the text. Colleagues of mine are involved in a project that involves adding captions to photographs. Like many of you, they aren't full-time designers and haven't spent a great deal of time using Photoshop. While they know how to crop and resize photos, they've not yet worked with type. For those...

November 08, 2007

Usenet Newsgroups: Anachronistic Service or Useful Communication Tool?

Earlier this week ITS announced that it would be taking down the Usenet news server as of December 5, 2007. In a fit of nostalgia, I opened up my newsreader (Mozilla) to leave a farewell message on cwru.general. Oddly enough, my message got a response; others (not many) were still using Usenet! This led me to wonder what had happened to newsgroups. Did the generation that grew up on the Web not know about newsgroups, or did they know about them but prefer the Web? In this age of Web 2.0, where some update their Facebook status by the hour, users pose questions on discussion boards such as http://forum.case.edu, and writers merge their Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku posts into central RSS feeds that can be shared on their Tumblr blogs, is there still a place for Usenet news?

October 30, 2007

Don't build your Web site in a vacuum

This is the fifth in a series of posts that discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other Web marketing strategies. This week we'll go beyond the Web.

October 11, 2007

Voice and Tone: Writing to reflect your personality as well as your message (Part 1)

Last week someone posted a question to the WordNerds group regarding the importance of voice and tone in writing. In particular she wanted to know how to convey the importance of voice and tone to colleagues who aren't professional writers. Not having covered this topic previously I thought I'd give it a go.

October 01, 2007

CSS Tip: Positioning photos with floats

In the past I've discussed how the use of photos can enhance a Web site, but I've not discussed the code one uses to incorporate them. On campus, and elsewhere, Web designers use a variety of techniques to include their photos.

September 25, 2007

Podcast Recommendation: Boagworld

As many of you know, I have something of a podcast addiction. My iPod contains everything from the video mischief of Mr. Deity to the probing intellectual discussions of In Our Time--which returns from summer hiatus this week. I listen to these while walking about campus, driving around town or when trying to fall asleep at night. Alas some of these podcasts are ill-suited to the fight against insomnia. Instead of lulling me into slumber, they taunt me with ideas that I want to tinker with right away. One such Podcast is Boagworld, "the podcast for those involved in designing, developing and running Web sites."

September 07, 2007

Linkbait: Tasty morsels to entice readers

It sounds nefarious doesn't it? Makes one think of "bait and switch" or that run-down old bait store by the lake—the one where they store the containers of nightcrawlers in the same cooler as the egg salad sandwiches. Blech.

August 28, 2007

An Introduction to Web Standards

I've recently come to the conclusion that a great number of Web developers either don't know about Web standards, or simply don't care. For those who aren't already aware of the standards I'll offer a brief introduction along with resources for additional information. For those who don't care, or who are anti-standards, I'll offer some examples as to why I feel they're important.

August 09, 2007

Enhance your reputation & increase traffic by joining discussions on other blogs

As you know from my earlier post on commenting, people (and robots) like to leave comments on other people's blogs in order to provide links back to their own Web site.

July 27, 2007

Using blogs and Web pages to raise your professional profile

Yesterday Jeremy Smith and I gave a presentation to faculty entitled, "Using blogs and web pages to raise your professional profile."

July 23, 2007

Web 2.0 & Social Networking can enhance "findability"

I do not profess to be an expert on either Web 2.0 or social networking, but last week I was involved in some discussions that made me want to learn more, so I decided to jump in and do some exploring.

July 13, 2007

An Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts that will discuss SEO and other Web marketing strategies. Before we dig into our first discussion of SEO, it is worth remembering that search engines are not the only way visitors get to your site.

July 06, 2007

Image Formats 101: From Bitmaps to Vector Art which do you use when?

Since we released the logos on Monday, I've received a number of questions regarding file formats. The .gif files I made for the Web are pretty easy to use, but many of you are also incorporating logos into your print projects, and aren't sure which version to use when. To help you choose the best format for your project, here is a bit of background on the differing file formats and some recommendations on their use. Follow the links within the text to learn more about each of these formats.

July 02, 2007

The logos are here! Updating the logo on your Web site

Since the new logo was announced many of you have been asking when the new files will be available and what will be involved. Well today is the day!

June 17, 2007

My Web Development Tools

Aaron Shaffer recently posted a link it up of the tools he uses in his business, so I thought I'd share a list of the tools I use most often in Web development and related projects.

June 12, 2007

When one image just won't do; incorporating slideshows on your Web site. Part 2: Flash

ast week, I showed you one way to make a slideshow for your Web site using an existing javascript. Today we'll build a slideshow in Flash.

June 06, 2007

When one image just won't do; incorporating slideshows on your Web site. Part 1: Javascript

It's funny how people get the same idea at the same time. Last week I had two different people ask me how they could use a slideshow instead of a still picture on their Web site.

May 08, 2007

The Comments Conundrum

One of the cool things about blogs—in comparison to regular Web sites -- is the opportunity users are given to comment on the material. Instead of merely reading the marvelous things you have to say, readers can react to your ideas by sharing their own opinions and insights.

Kevin has left the building

Kevin Adams has recently left the university to take a Web development position in the corporate world.

April 25, 2007

Converting Word documents to HTML

While I write my own copy for this blog, and some of my other sites, much of what I post on the Web is written by others. This material comes to me in a variety of formats, from Open Office to .pdf files, but most of it is in Microsoft Word, and all of it needs to be converted to HTML. There are a variety of ways to do this, but I'll just review three, two common approaches and my preferred method.

April 19, 2007

Embedding Flash Objects for Internet Explorer

Due to a lawsuit between Microsoft and Eolas, Internet Explorer no longer processes , or in the way that it used to. Now instead of using to embed a Flash file, you need to use javascript in order for Internet Explorer users to load the content automatically.

April 10, 2007

My media consumption diet

Sandy Piderit recently posted her media consumption diet in an effort to share ideas and propagate the meme initiated by Jeremiah Owyang. As part of this effort, she tagged me to contribute.

April 02, 2007

Don't say "click here." Include your links in context.

After more than a decade of Web development, most of us have gotten used to adding links within the context of our text—just as I did in this sentence. Yet despite our good habits, awareness and best intentions, many links are still awkwardly managed.

March 28, 2007

Writing to be understood by your audience

One of our campus Web maintainers recently asked if our department advocated writing to a certain reading level. I responded that while "fours years below the level of your audience" is a decent rule of thumb, the most important thing is to write clearly.

March 13, 2007

Case Wordnerds to discuss blogging

The Case Writers' and Editors' Forum, WordNerds, will discuss blogging next Wednesday, March 21st, in room 2280 (2nd floor) at the School of Nursing. I'll be leading this discussion in which we'll cover a brief overview of blogging, then discuss ways to use blogging in our marketing, recruitment and other communication efforts. I've asked Jeremy Smith, Case's blog administrator, to join us to share his opinions and expertise.

February 21, 2007

The site is up and running, but is anyone visiting? Find out with Aurora stats.

Finally, you've launched your site and can begin to relax. But as soon as you do that the question begins to nag, is anyone visiting? If your site is on the main Case server you can find out using the statistics generated by the Aurora Project Administration System.

January 30, 2007

CaseLearns courses to enhance your Web development skills

For those of you interested in learning more about some of the tools we use in Web development, CaseLearns is offering the following classes this semester.

January 23, 2007

The workings of Internet search engines

Last week, as I was running errands, I listened to an intriguing lecture about search engine technology provided by Princeton's University Channel, a collection of podcasts provided by UC member universities.

January 11, 2007

From HTML tables to Flickr: How do you archive your photographs?

I first got my paws on a digital camera when I was working for Development Programs. My plan was to take photos of events and places on campus so that I could use those photos on the Web sites I built for the department. This turned out to be rather useful, but also time-consuming.

January 03, 2007

New Year, New Copyright Date?

This is also the time of year when people ask me if they should now change the copyright date on the bottom of their Web sites. The short answer is no; don't change the copyright date unless you've made other changes to the site and are using a multi-year format such as © 2004-2006.

December 05, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words, more or less

A few weeks ago our project team was reviewing beta version .95 of Web site X, when we realized that we each had different reactions to some of the photos used in the project. While person A felt that photo 1 invoked a certain mood, person B felt something else. Given that site X requires a certain amount of precision we decided to explore other options such as purchasing stock photos pertinent to the topic. Today Greg Szorc commented on the forums about a photo choice on another Web site. In this case Greg and I had entirely different...

November 16, 2006

Using CSS to deliver Web content to different media types

Earlier this week Jeremy Smith wrote Delivering Web Content to Mobile Devices in which he discussed some of the different options, and concluded that by using CSS, one can configure pages for handhelds just as easily as one can for print or other media options.

November 13, 2006

A writer's obligations: ethics, law and pragmatism, Part 3: Pragmatism

The Ford lecture site asks the reader to register and prpvides additional information to help the reader to decide whether or not to attend. While I'll probably post additional entries on ethics, today we'll discuss what I expect will be the simplest chapter in this series, pragmatism. When I think of applying pragmatism to our Web development strategies, I think of taking a practical approach that examines our options in regard to their intended consequences. In particular I want to ensure that our choices support our goals. I discussed goals earlier in the Planning Your Web site tutorial, but...

October 27, 2006

A writer's obligations: ethics, law and pragmatism, Part 2a: Ethics

Last week I promised you I'd write about ethics and the Web. Ever since I've been wondering if I bit off more than I could chew and have been trying to find a way to approach this rather broad topic.

October 25, 2006

I had a good experience at the BMV: Customer Service on the Web

Last weekend I noticed that the temporary tags on my new (to me) VW were going to expire Tuesday. I quickly went into the house to check the mailbox to see if my new title had arrived yet. It had not. So Monday morning, with one day to spare, I hopped online to find out what steps I would need to take to register my car without this important document. Envisioning a series of errands involving the seller, notaries, and visits to various offices, I was happy to learn that the process was actually quite simple and that all...

October 20, 2006

A writer's obligations: ethics, law and pragmatism, Part 1: Law

Fair Use? In a former career, I designed the cover of this law book and drew the illustration of the column based on a design created by a colleague for another book in the series. Using the image to illustrate a point seems to be fair use. However if I had re-used the drawing of the column as part of another design, be it a book cover, poster or something else, that would probably not be fair because the publisher, my former employer, maintains the copyright for the illustration. Last week I wrote about the different roles we may...

October 13, 2006

Web writers: What are we? Journalists? Marketers? Information Providers? Opinion makers? Scholars?

One of our bloggers wrote me this week with some questions regarding the choices we make in the content we include and the responsibilities that may affect those choices. As I was responding to his questions, it occurred to me that these choices are really determined by the goal of our Web site or blog, and the role we play as writers. Today I would like to explore the different types of writers that may be posting content online, and what their roles or responsibilities may be. In a future entry I'll discuss how these roles can impact our...

October 05, 2006

From Case to Colby in 8 jumps: The value and vagaries of external links

Sometimes I like to wander the Web while eating lunch. Today I began this endeavor with a trip to Planet Case, beginning with James Chang's "Riot at Columbia University" entry.

September 27, 2006

Dreamweaver and Photoshop Classes

For those of you interested in learning more about some of the tools we use in Web development, Case Learns is offering the following Dreamweaver and Photoshop classes this semester.

September 15, 2006

15 Years (give or take) of the WWW

Where I spent my summer vacation. Yesterday was my first day back at work after an Internet-free vacation in Maine on the schooner, Heritage (pictured right). Today I received an e-mail announcing that this year marks the 15th anniversary of the World Wide Web. The message included a link to a timeline of Web history beginning with ideas that first surfaced in 1945. This timeline was part of TechWeb's article series, The Online Supernova: 15 Years Of The World Wide Web. Whether you are new to Web development or have been tinkering with it since the early 1990's, I think...

August 31, 2006

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 2

In our first lesson on CSS, I introduced you to the concept, gave you a new homework assignment and showed you an example of a simple site—with and without its accompanying stylesheet. For that example I used the Wolf site I had built as part of our first homework assignment for learning XHTML/HTML. Today I am going to show you how I added the styles to that site. Incorporating a stylesheet into your site involves two basic steps Create a stylesheet file: Using a plain text editor, such as Notepad or Textedit, open a new file and save it...

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 2

In our first lesson on CSS, I introduced you to the concept, gave you a new homework assignment and showed you an example of a simple site—with and without its accompanying stylesheet. For that example I used the Wolf site I had built as part of our first homework assignment for learning XHTML/HTML. Today I am going to show you how I added the styles to that site. Incorporating a stylesheet into your site involves two basic steps Create a stylesheet file: Using a plain text editor, such as Notepad or Textedit, open a new file and save it...

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 2

In our first lesson on CSS, I introduced you to the concept, gave you a new homework assignment and showed you an example of a simple site—with and without its accompanying stylesheet. For that example I used the Wolf site I had built as part of our first homework assignment for learning XHTML/HTML. Today I am going to show you how I added the styles to that site. Incorporating a stylesheet into your site involves two basic steps Create a stylesheet file: Using a plain text editor, such as Notepad or Textedit, open a new file and save it...

WordNerds Discussion Group

Tuesday's Case Daily announcement about the WordNerds listserv and discussion group brought in a number of inquiries. In order to offer more information to those of you who are interested, I thought I would share the following messages, as provided by core members of the group. About WordNerds Formally known as the Case Writers' and Editors' Forum, we are a group of Case staff members who present the messages of the university to internal and external audiences. We are communications, marketing, public relations, Web, and news and information specialists who spend a lot of time thinking, writing, and editing. Message...

August 09, 2006

Avoid squishy head syndrome: proper techniques for sizing and cropping images

Heidi's head hasbeen squishedKevin's head is normal While I may never regain the finely sculpted cheekbones of my college years, the photo on the above right is not of me after a bad facelift. It's just a photo of me suffering from squishy head syndrome. I'm sure you've seen other examples. Perhaps you've been to the staff directory page for department X. It's a useful page with names, titles and contact information for everyone in the department. The only problem is that some of the people look a bit funny. Either their photos have been squished to the wrong proportions...

August 03, 2006

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 1

As a follow-up to the I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML and homework review entries, today I'll introduce you to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). If you are working on a Case site, you will have noticed that each set of templates comes with its own set of style sheets that determine the color scheme, fonts, etc. In most cases you can just leave these alone, but there may be times when you want to do something special such as adding colored borders to a table, or creating a red (cranberry) alert headline to emphasize something important. To do...

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 1

As a follow-up to the I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML and homework review entries, today I'll introduce you to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). If you are working on a Case site, you will have noticed that each set of templates comes with its own set of style sheets that determine the color scheme, fonts, etc. In most cases you can just leave these alone, but there may be times when you want to do something special such as adding colored borders to a table, or creating a red (cranberry) alert headline to emphasize something important. To do...

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 1

As a follow-up to the I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML and homework review entries, today I'll introduce you to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). If you are working on a Case site, you will have noticed that each set of templates comes with its own set of style sheets that determine the color scheme, fonts, etc. In most cases you can just leave these alone, but there may be times when you want to do something special such as adding colored borders to a table, or creating a red (cranberry) alert headline to emphasize something important. To do...

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 1

As a follow-up to the I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML and homework review entries, today I'll introduce you to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). If you are working on a Case site, you will have noticed that each set of templates comes with its own set of style sheets that determine the color scheme, fonts, etc. In most cases you can just leave these alone, but there may be times when you want to do something special such as adding colored borders to a table, or creating a red (cranberry) alert headline to emphasize something important. To do...

I'm not going to teach you CSS: Lesson 1

As a follow-up to the I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML and homework review entries, today I'll introduce you to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). If you are working on a Case site, you will have noticed that each set of templates comes with its own set of style sheets that determine the color scheme, fonts, etc. In most cases you can just leave these alone, but there may be times when you want to do something special such as adding colored borders to a table, or creating a red (cranberry) alert headline to emphasize something important. To do...

July 31, 2006

Valid code for using Flash animations on the Web

If you've ever tried to include a flash animation in your Web site you may have found that either your movie doesn't show up, your code doesn't validate, or both. Or perhaps you have found that while your movie appears on your page when viewed in Browser X, it does not when viewed in Browser Y. Sometime ago I encountered the same problem and after searching around the Web for various solutions I came across the following. It works in a variety of browsers and is much simpler than the code generated by Flash or Dreamweaver. To use this...

Valid code for using Flash animations on the Web

If you've ever tried to include a flash animation in your Web site you may have found that either your movie doesn't show up, your code doesn't validate, or both. Or perhaps you have found that while your movie appears on your page when viewed in Browser X, it does not when viewed in Browser Y. Sometime ago I encountered the same problem and after searching around the Web for various solutions I came across the following. It works in a variety of browsers and is much simpler than the code generated by Flash or Dreamweaver. To use this...

Valid code for using Flash animations on the Web

If you've ever tried to include a flash animation in your Web site you may have found that either your movie doesn't show up, your code doesn't validate, or both. Or perhaps you have found that while your movie appears on your page when viewed in Browser X, it does not when viewed in Browser Y. Sometime ago I encountered the same problem and after searching around the Web for various solutions I came across the following. It works in a variety of browsers and is much simpler than the code generated by Flash or Dreamweaver. To use this...

July 19, 2006

Using blogs and web pages to raise your professional profile

On Thursday, July 27th, Jeremy Smith and I will be giving a presentation on "Using blogs and web pages to raise your professional profile" as part of UCITE's summer seminar series on dealing with technology. Faculty interested in attending may register online on UCITE's event page. You may also wish to attend this week's session on "Podcasts, Blogs and Wikis," presented by Mace Mentch and Aaron Schaefer. The information they provide will be helpful to our session next week.   The slides and handout from my presentation are now available online at http://blog.case.edu/webdev/profile.html  ...

Using blogs and web pages to raise your professional profile

On Thursday, July 27th, Jeremy Smith and I will be giving a presentation on "Using blogs and web pages to raise your professional profile" as part of UCITE's summer seminar series on dealing with technology. Faculty interested in attending may register online on UCITE's event page. You may also wish to attend this week's session on "Podcasts, Blogs and Wikis," presented by Mace Mentch and Aaron Schaefer. The information they provide will be helpful to our session next week.   The slides and handout from my presentation are now available online at http://blog.case.edu/webdev/profile.html  ...

Using blogs and web pages to raise your professional profile

On Thursday, July 27th, Jeremy Smith and I will be giving a presentation on "Using blogs and web pages to raise your professional profile" as part of UCITE's summer seminar series on dealing with technology. Faculty interested in attending may register online on UCITE's event page. You may also wish to attend this week's session on "Podcasts, Blogs and Wikis," presented by Mace Mentch and Aaron Schaefer. The information they provide will be helpful to our session next week.   The slides and handout from my presentation are now available online at http://blog.case.edu/webdev/profile.html  ...

July 11, 2006

I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML: Homework Review

Last month in my entry about HTML/XHTML I provided a homework assignment for those who wanted to try learning a bit of XHTML. I know some of you are still working on the project, but as I've completed it myself, I'll walk you through some of the elements of the site. If you have not yet started the project, you should go ahead and give it a try before reading this, but I leave it to you to decide what works best for your learning style. My results On the right is a screen capture of the site I...

I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML: Homework Review

Last month in my entry about HTML/XHTML I provided a homework assignment for those who wanted to try learning a bit of XHTML. I know some of you are still working on the project, but as I've completed it myself, I'll walk you through some of the elements of the site. If you have not yet started the project, you should go ahead and give it a try before reading this, but I leave it to you to decide what works best for your learning style. My results On the right is a screen capture of the site I...

I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML: Homework Review

Last month in my entry about HTML/XHTML I provided a homework assignment for those who wanted to try learning a bit of XHTML. I know some of you are still working on the project, but as I've completed it myself, I'll walk you through some of the elements of the site. If you have not yet started the project, you should go ahead and give it a try before reading this, but I leave it to you to decide what works best for your learning style. My results On the right is a screen capture of the site I...

June 28, 2006

Sharing the wisdom of Blake Ross, inventor of Firefox

Monday night—as I was driving home from work, making dinner, and puttering about the house—I listened to The City Club's podcast of their June 14th 2006 forum featuring Blake Ross, inventor of Firefox. While I've been subscribed to The City Club's podcast's for quite awhile, I thought Blake's talk might be of interest to you because many of the ideas he applies to program development also apply to Web development. Blake Ross, a 21-year old student and developer, realized some time ago that programmers can't work in a vacuum; instead of focusing inwardly on their code, they need to understand...

June 26, 2006

Uploading files with Dreamweaver (FTP)

Note to users of the main Case Web server (Aurora): As of May 19, 2008 you will upload your files via WebDAV instead of FTP. Learn more about the transition to WebDAV. Once you've planned your site and organized your files, it is time to start building and uploading your pages. If your site is hosted on Case's main Web server you will do this via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). There are a variety of good inexpensive FTP programs* available, but if you are using Dreamweaver—provided through the software center as part of Macromedia Studio—you can simply use its built-in...

June 20, 2006

Web File Organization and Naming Conventions

At home, entropy reigns supreme. My friends will attest that a visit to Heidiland—replete with obstacles ranging from art supplies to Pisa-like stacks of books—is an adventure that would be considered overly-taxing by the neat freaks of the world. My computers, however, are another story. Given that my active Web development folder has over 14,000 files within, and that this is but one of many folders on one of three computers, I've had to take a more logical approach.

June 09, 2006

I'm not going to teach you XHTML/HTML, but you should learn it anyway

If you are already comfortable editing in HTML or XHTML, then you may want to just skip to the bottom and bookmark some of the resources I've listed for future reference. But if you've just been given the responsibility of maintaining or building a new site for your department, you may be wondering where to begin. If you've done the requisite site planning, as described in my Planning Your Website Tutorial, then you are almost ready to begin building or editing your pages. To build a new site you will need to download the appropriate template files, and make sure...

May 26, 2006

Customize your masthead image

Recently we've been getting more requests from people who wish to customize the masthead image on their Websites, so I thought this would be a good time to release the magic Photoshop file and share the secret process for creating your own custom image. While the images provided with the templates are perfectly suitable for most sites, a photo that represents your topic or organization can add a nice visual cue to your users. Step One: Choose your photo Frankly, this is the hardest part of the process. First you have to find an image that represents your site, and...

May 05, 2006

Taking over the world, or at least reaching out to it

Screen capture from Riding in Cars with Girls Earlier this year I discovered a new band, Moi Caprice, from Denmark. My experience in listening to and acquiring their music reminded me of the power our Web sites can have in reaching out to the world at large. It also demonstrates that even a site with some (minor) design flaws can be successful if it incorporates the right elements. What follows is the process I took from first hearing the music to unwrapping an envelope from Denmark and inserting my new tunes into my Mac. When I first heard Moi Caprice...

April 17, 2006

Building your site: Tertiary pages—When more is more

In the Planning your Web site articles I wrote on first and secondary pages, I recommended not overwhelming the user with too many choices or too much information. That less is more approach works very well to ensure that critical information is not lost in a crowd of words, and helps us set up an easy to maneuver navigational system. But as we get deeper into specific areas of the site, our goals and strategies change. Once we have carefully guided our visitors to our third, fourth and deeper level pages, it is time to reward them with in-depth...

April 03, 2006

Listening to academic podcasts: Who would and why? Part I

Friday on Management Professor Notes II, Professor Piderit wrote, "Jeremy Smith writes that Case has been accepted into Apple's iTunes University program, which sounds exciting... as long as it doesn't mean that students stop coming to my class." Instead of worrying about this, she (and her commenters) then focused on ways to make classroom attendance worthwhile, while I started thinking about ways in which students and others might use podcasts. As our iTunes workgroup waits to learn more about the technical requirements for the iTunes project, now seems like a good time to consider how classroom (and other) lectures...

February 24, 2006

Raising your Web site rankings

People often ask me how they can raise the rankings for their Web sites. Typically I explain, that while many algorithms are involved, the major factors include: The number of Web sites that link to your site The relevance of those Web sites linking to your site The quality of your content How you present key terms— using headers rather than bolded text for key points Today—thanks to Brian Gray at e3 Information Overload—I discovered a great article by Google's quality engineer, Matt Cutts, that quite clearly explains how Google collects and rank results. I urge you to read...

February 08, 2006

Building your site: Secondary pages

Now that you've created a welcoming front door, it's time to create your secondary pages. These pages can fall into two categories. On a small site made up of just a few pages, your secondary pages will hold your primary content. On a larger site, such as our Department of Cartooning site, the secondary page must both include useful content and serve as a gateway to the other pages in that section of the site. Gateway to enlightenment When I describe a page as a gateway, I mean it to be a page through which a user can find...

November 09, 2005

Out of the office

I'll be out of the office from Nov. 15th through Dec. 6th and probably won't be checking e-mail. If you have web development questions while I am gone, please contact Kevin. Happy Thanksgiving!...

Training & Resources

Given that web designers at Case come in a variety of skill levels, and we all have something new to learn, I thought this might be a good time to remind everyone of some of the resources available to us here at Case. Classes provided through KSLearn provide training opportunities for students, faculty, and staff covering an array of topics including Microsoft Office products (Excel, Word, Access, Powerpoint), web-authoring tools and basic HTML, graphic design software including Adobe Photoshop, effective use of the Internet/WWW for research and teaching, and the use and creation of electronic texts, image databases and other...

August 25, 2005

Organizing, acquiring, and creating content for your website - Part Two

Clark Hall Now that we've reviewed and finalized our site map, it is time to start collecting and writing the content we need to build the site. Acquiring existing written content Some of the content you need probably exists already. For example we've decided to include course descriptions on our fictional cartooning site. These probably already exist in the General Bulletin, so you could just go there and copy and paste from that document. On the other hand you may find that you want to include more details than are available in the bulletin. In this case I would send...

Organizing, acquiring, and creating content for your website - Part One

Having reviewed our goals and those of our audience, we should now be at the stage where we have a list of content ideas. Some of these we've come up with on our own and some have been suggested by our prospective site visitors. If you are like me you may have these items scrawled out in no particular order on a legal pad, note cards, or the back of an unused airsickness bag. Now is the time to make sense of them. Organizing your content The first thing I try to do is arrange my items into logical...

July 28, 2005

More about your target audiences

Last week the subject of our target audiences received short shrift as I waxed forth on the subject of goals. In revisiting this subject I want to emphasize just how critical it is to find the balance between our own goals and those of the people we wish to visit the site. Sticking with the cartoon theme I've used the example of Dr. Doolittle's "Pushme-Pullyou." One head represents the person producing the web content while the other represents the site visitor. In the movie this creature provided a navigational advantage when they were on board ship as it could...

July 21, 2005

Understanding your goals and your target audience

At this point you should have a fairly clear idea of the goals for your site. But have you considered this: are your goals related to the goals of your intended audience? To examine this issue let's pretend we are building a new website for the fictitious Department of Cartooning. As we see in my own feeble attempt at cartooning, our webmaster is pondering his goals. The first one, to recruit faculty and students is a goal common to academic departments. (How we create content to support such goals will be discussed in a later post) Here our target audience...

July 12, 2005

Kevin & Heidi's Move to Adelbert

This week Kevin and I have moved from Bellflower to [[Adelbert_Hall|Adelbert]] 14. Due to the fact that we are now switching to VoIP, our phone numbers have not yet caught up with us. During this transition please contact us by e-mail if you have any web development questions. You can reach us at kevin.adams@case.edu and heidi.cool@case.edu. Thank you for your patience....

April 13, 2005

Securing web pages for password authentication

I received a question today about securing webpages, so now that I've told you how to use ssi files with your secure page, it makes sense to tell you how to make the secure page. Please note that these instructions are only for accounts on the Aurora (Benbecula) Server. If you are maintaining a site on a different server you should check with your server administrator. Let's Begin Go to http://www.cwru.edu:8000/apas/apas.html Login with your web account name and password. This would be the same one you use with Dreamweaver or your ftp program of choice to upload your files to...

April 04, 2005

Using ssi files with secured pages

Many of you are using Server Side Includes files for menus, footers, and other elements of your websites that are used on multiple pages. Learn more about ssi. SSI files are a great time-saver when it comes to updating your site, but what happens when you want to use them in a secured environment, i.e. with a file or directory that you've secured for viewing only by authenticated users*? If you've tried this, you've noticed that your files don't work properly, your stylesheet doesn't appear, and everything looks horribly wrong. What you need for these to work properly is to...

February 28, 2005

Introducing the Web Development Blog

We'll be using this space to post announcements, tips and tricks regarding web development here at Case. We'll also be relying on you for suggestions, so please don't hesitate to write either Kevin or Heidi with your suggestions regarding this blog. Tip# 1: If you are the maintainer of a website, put your name and/or linked e-mail address in your footermenu, so that people with questions about the site can easily contact you. If you have multiple maintainers and can't fit everyone in your footer, then just make sure those people are listed (and easily identified) in a staff directory...