Monday, June 30, 2008


Migration of content officially started today!

Blow 311 is regularly booked now as Cascade Command Central. W&M's Cascade web content management system is now ready to hold "standard content pages." We'll need a few more days of programming by Global Image before the less standard pages (like news articles, SPIFFs, and other widgets) are ready for content.

So today, we started with the bravest web editors we know - Josh Henry from Admission, Kathy Larrieu from Arts & Sciences and Luke Gill from Dean of Students Office. Tomorrow, we expect German Mendez from the Registrar's Office.

In my view, a primary goal of re.web is nearly accomplished. Because of the CMS, the technology behind the web pages is not the focus. It's all about content now; it's all about what we have to say about the College.

Need a refresh on the goals of re.web?

To send the critical message that content is what matters most on the web

posted by Susan Evans

Don't try this at home.

We've occasionally blogged about what's going live when the new website launches on July 31. Until now, we've summarized it qualitatively.

Last week, we built out the information architecture for all of the go-live features, pages and sites within Cascade. Despite an IA that requires 1,150 rows in an Excel spreadsheet, we finished on time. Andrew, Joel, Mark, and Tina: you always meet the goal!

**Warning: Spoiler**
(if you are involved in the build-out and migration of the new site, you may want to stop reading here)

So let's go quantitative this time: there will be at least 808 new web pages on July 31. And the vast majority of these new pages will have all new content! Want to know why the number of rows in the spreadsheet exceeds the number of new pages? Because we also built folders in Cascade for images, graphics, and documents in the new sites.

This 808 page total doesn't even count the individual blog entry pages that our brand-new student, staff and faculty bloggers are currently writing. I'm betting we hit 1,000 pages.

And photography - do you really want to go there? Okay, latest count, there are nearly 350 photos (and we are identifying more as I write this).

posted by Susan Evans

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'd like to be a college student again . . .

I've been reading drafts of some features that mStoner is writing for the psychology department. (Sidebar: the psychology department is a part of the initial re.web launch on July 31!)

I should have taken more psychology as an undergrad - the courses described in these special interest features (SPIFFs) drafted by mStoner are catching my attention. The subject of one SPIFF is Professor Connie Pilkington's annual "neuron firing event." In Psyc 201, Professor Pilkington takes 300 undergrads outside to explain the complex electrochemical process that makes neurons fire.

A second SPIFF is about Psyc 422, Behavior Modification. Professor Janice Zeman offers a unique assignment and personal way for her students to apply what they've learned about behavioral theory.

Look for these and other great features in just 33 days.

posted by Susan Evans

Friday, June 27, 2008

copyWrite - It's Academic

In this week's copyWrite, we post an entry with a bit of copy from the new Academics section of the new W&M website.

The best small public university in America. Period.

William & Mary is an academic powerhouse. Our undergraduate and graduate students choose W&M because of its celebrated liberal arts tradition and commitment to hands-on, original research. They know they’ll work hard, but that their uncommon efforts will be personally, academically and professionally rewarding.

Our faculty members are not only internationally recognized leaders in their fields, but passionately engaged educators. They understand that original research, meaningful community service, and a first-person global perspective have the power to turn an ordinary class into an unforgettable experience.

Academic life at William & Mary is spread across five schools and dozens of academic departments. If we do our job right, then you’ll step foot in nearly all of them. Our students are too multi-talented and intellectually curious to be pigeonholed as a “chemistry major” or a “law student.”

If you’re seeking to be challenged, engaged, inspired—to be educated—you belong at William & Mary.

posted by Susan Evans

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shiny, Slick, and There!

The new hardware and software needed to launch the "production Cascade" at W&M is shiny, slick, and there. Not a day behind schedule, our technical and engineering teams are unquestionably reliable.

I love it when I get an email message filled with acronyms, technical terminology, engineering references, and server names. It usually means things are going well. Roger Clark's Friday afternoon message didn't disappoint - the bottom line, we have the web server and software environment we need (and deserve!) to re-launch

Many thanks to Andrew Bauserman, Roger Clark, Clarke Morledge, Eric Myers, Chris Peck, and Mark Windley. I know you were just doing what you do - but chocolate cake will arrive on Monday or Tuesday.

Other readers of this message: your chocolate cake is virtual.

posted by Susan Evans

Friday, June 20, 2008

copyWrite - W&M Impact

In this week's copyWrite, you'll find a sample entry for a special interest feature (SPIFF) that will be called W&M Impact. This spiffilicious example, written by Erin Zagursky in W&M University Relations, will be one of many profiles and stories showcasing the many ways W&M makes Williamsburg, Virginia, and the world a better place to live.
W&M Impact
Service: W&M's Hottest Ticket
At W&M, service trips are worth sleeping on the floor.

At William and Mary, students aren't lining up in sleeping bags to wait for concert tickets. They're camping out and sleeping on floors in hopes of getting the trip of a lifetime. Service trips are the hot ticket at William and Mary.

Helping others is infectious here. At last count, students spend more than 323,000 hours doing community service each year - across the globe and locally. In the 'burg, they tutor or read to "adopted" grandparents, and in Uganda, they build schools for orphans.

"Service is in the best tradition of William and Mary," Interim William and Mary President W. Taylor Reveley III told students during a spring dinner. "I'm very proud of you."

This year, the Office of Community Engagement offered more international service trips than ever. The 16 trips - to locations like Honduras and Tanzania - had students setting up medical clinics, providing educational programs, doing research and building relationships. Along with the international trips, students served in the good ol' U.S. of A. with seven spring break service trips. Spring break trips are so popular among students that they have camped out the night before sign-ups. This year, the students were entered in a lottery where hitting the jackpot meant spending their spring break in places like New Orleans, helping with disaster relief.

"I've been doing community service for a long time and I don't have anything planned over Spring Break, so what better to do than to help some people out while I'm on break," said student Lamar Shambley.

posted by Susan Evans

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

With a careful eye

Joel Pattison put together a photo bank of 11 shots that might work as banner images for the Psychology Department's new website. Faculty and staff in Psychology are reviewing this set of images with a plan to settle on 6 - 8 of them for the rotating banner on their site.

Once Psychology makes some choices, Joel's work begins (again) - he'll do some magic, enhancing and optimizing the final photo choices.

posted by Susan Evans

Friday, June 13, 2008

copyWrite - VIMS Featured Research

copyWrite is a feature of the re.web blog. Often on Fridays, we'll show you a snippet of some of the new web copy. In this week's copyWrite, we highlight a new special interest feature that will be available on the new website for VIMS. Dave Malmquist wrote this sample for Featured Research - the new VIMS site will also have Featured People and Featured Programs.

Featured Research
Seagrass? Me neither
A study led by Dr. Robert Orth reveals a troubling decline in seagrasses around the world. He’s now striving to inform the public about why these grasses are so important, and how their loss affects humans and marine ecosystems.

Seagrass crisis global

Dr. Robert Orth has studied Chesapeake Bay seagrasses for more than 30 years. He knows that this vital resource is in serious trouble—with excess nutrients, turbid water, and a warming climate as the main culprits.

Now, a study by Orth and a dozen international colleagues reveals what may be the most troublesome finding of all: seagrass loss is global, but the public remains largely unaware of both the problem and its consequences. Seagrasses provide a home for many important fish and shellfish species, limit erosion, soak up nutrients, and help improve water clarity.

The study was conducted by Orth and other members of the Global Seagrass Trajectories Working Group, part of a national effort to promote the analysis and synthesis of ecological information.

Orth's team found that reported cases of seagrass loss haven risen by nearly a factor of 10 during the last 40 years. Says Orth, "We compiled reports of seagrass loss from as far north as Denmark, as far south as Australia, and from the Chesapeake Bay to the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and Japan."

The scientists argue that these losses, caused mostly by human activities in the coastal zone, constitute a global crisis for seagrasses.

Despite the magnitude and rapidity of these losses, the team found that seagrasses receive from 3- to 100-times less media attention than coral reefs, salt marshes, and mangroves—even though seagrasses deliver "ecosystem services" that are at least twice as high as these other imperiled habitats.

Orth attributes the public's lack of knowledge to the "invisibility of seagrasses." "These plants grow underwater," he notes, "and in very shallow areas that most boaters avoid. Also, the animals that seagrasses harbor are often small and hidden, in contrast to the large and dazzling organisms that attract the general public to coral reefs."

Orth's team recommends a two-pronged effort—increased conservation efforts and education for the public and resource managers.

"One of our goals," says Orth, "is to educate people about the value that seagrasses provide and how important they are compared to coral reefs, mangroves, and other coastal ecosystems. Right now we're the 'ugly duckling' of these charismatic habitats, but hopefully we're going to change that."

posted by Dave Malmquist, VIMS Director of Communications

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News?

When the new W&M website launches on July 31, it'll all be good news because News at W&M will be displayed in a robust and carefully planned News & Events site.

Mike Connolly, Brian Whitson, David Williard, and Joe McClain spent two hours in our favorite windowless conference room on Tuesday afternoon. Ben & Jerry joined us - we also consumed Dove Bars and Reese's PB cups!

Andrew, Mark and I walked through the technical implementation of the design mock ups that we'd finalized back in March. The news for News is good because we'll have a site that can showcase the audio, video, features, galleries and micro-sites that are the hallmarks of the current News site. The work of University Relations offers compelling profiles of faculty research, and great coverage and stories of the activities and goings on of W&M faculty, students, and staff. This is going to be a great new site; I'd like to think there's another CASE award in store for University Relations . . .

We covered a lot of ground between frozen treats and we have a plan. They were okay with the bad news too. When it comes down to it, building a new website is just a lot of hard work. The reality is that individual news stories and press releases from 2008 will need to be migrated. (Migrate: a fancy word that when you're lucky implies automation; but in this case means someone has to copy and paste content from the legacy web server to Cascade.) Let's not even talk about the photos that need to be cropped and optimized for the web.

In early July, we start pouring content into Cascade. This will require more Dove Bars and plenty of pizza. Wonder if our colleagues in University Relations like pepperoni, anchovy, or sausage? Maybe they'll post a comment letting me know ;-)

posted by Susan Evans

Sunday, June 8, 2008

We're Psyched

The Psychology Department is working on transitioning their website, with an eye toward launching it with the rest of the College's new site on July 31. Steve Otto and Connie Pilkington met last week to plan and talk about options.

Using the new layouts for Arts & Sciences departments, we're glad to report that the new website for Psychology will also have a special interest feature bank. This SPIFF bank will offer short features about Psychology students, faculty, research, and more. The mStoner writers will use suggestions from the Psychology to whip up some features to unveil at launch. In fact, we already have a list of faculty who have agreed to be contacted by the mStoner writers. Thanks all!

We'll also find some new photography for the Psychology site - the new rotating banner image on their site will include eight or so different images. With some direction from the Psychology Department, Joel will be on the hunt to propose photos that work.

posted by Susan Evans

Saturday, June 7, 2008

They're Great and So Are You

Official W&M Bloggers are already writing. We are fortunate to have the Summer Interns in the Admission Office churning out some great stuff.

You'll have to wait to see the Admission Blogs ;) but here's a note I sent to Henry Broaddus, Wendy Livingston, and Randy Tripp:

Henry, Wendy, and Randy,

I'm writing to let you know that I've been following the Admission Intern Bloggers with sheer delight. Their posts are entertaining, fun, and honest. I don't view myself as someone who needs convincing that blogs are a powerful communication tool. Yet, your bloggers' genuine and thoughtful posts did just that.

On behalf of the aspirant W&M web presence, thank you, thank you. W&M Admission (no "s") is amazing!


posted by Susan Evans

You can't get by without the right people!

Teri Edmundson in Publications was a lifesaver this week. Seriously, Joel and I (well, mostly Joel) are identifying photography for various sections of the new website. As we nailed down which photos will go with which SPIFFs, we called on Teri for help.

I'm almost embarrassed to say how many times I emailed her to ask for a particular photo - sometimes it was a fabulous Salpukas' shot I'd seen on our current News site, perhaps it was a great pic from a back issue of Ideation. As I sent my 100th (exaggerating) message to Teri, Joel was in his office composing his 50th (still exaggerating) similar message to Teri.

As hard as we tried, we weren't able to overwhelm her ... thanks to Teri, we have all the photos we requested (for this week at least). Wonder if Teri realizes that "no good deed goes unpunished" - does she realize that these email pleas are likely to continue?

You can't get by without the right people ...

posted by Susan Evans

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Information Architecture = A Family Tree in Cascade

Tina Coleman and I headed over to the Discovery Office Building in New Town yesterday. Renell Franklin invited us to a meeting of the Development Communications team and the agenda was the IA for the new Giving section of the W&M website. Renell, John Wallace, and David Morrill had done their homework and the IA for Giving is in great shape.

We've blogged about Information Architecture before - see Andrew Bauserman's post from last September. At a minimum, think "outline your 15 - 20 page research paper before you begin writing."

You might be interested to know that when the IA hits Cascade, it turns into a family tree. Let's use the Giving IA as an example. When we create the Giving section (one of the eight main links on the global navigation bar) within Cascade, the IA will be the blueprint for a set of folders with a familial relationship. The Giving IA will dictate the following 6 parent folders:
  1. Why Support W&M?
  2. Impact of Your Gift
  3. Ways to Give
  4. Designate Your Gift
  5. Recognition and Thanks
  6. Contact Us
When six web pages are created in each of these six parents folders, the six left menu options that visitors to the W&M website will see when they click on Giving will be dynamically generated by Cascade. Cool.

Parents have children, right? So let's use parent 2. as the example. In Cascade, adding four children folders (with web pages inside them) will dynamically generate the four menu options that visitors will see if they click on "Impact of Your Gift."
2. Impact of Your Gift (parent)

2.1. Impact on Students (child)

2.2. Impact on Faculty (child)

2.3. Impact on Facilities (child)

2.4. Impact on Programs (child)

You can guess what's next - yes, grandchildren are possible. For example, any folders with web page content placed in 2.1. above are grandchildren of the parent folder, "Impact of Your Gift."

Does this all seem a little fuzzy? No worries. The W&M web team will help guide you through the steps of outlining your site and translating it into an IA. Most likely, we'll be the ones setting up the family you'll need in Cascade.

posted by Susan Evans

Sunday, June 1, 2008

And now we wait . . .

W&M's re.web blog was nominated for the "Best Institutional Blog" award presented jointly by eduStyle and "CollegeWebEditor's. During the month of May, People's Choice Voting was open on the eduStyle site.

We didn't tell you last month 'cause we wanted to stand on our own merit and not stuff the ballot box with on campus fans of our blog who might swarm to the eduStyle site to vote. ;) People's Choice Voting is just one part of the selection process. As background for the judges, I answered a few questions from Karine Joly about the re.web blog.

The winners of the eduStyle Awards will be announced at the eduWeb Conference in July. It's an honor just to be nominated!

eduStyle is a web design gallery dedicated to higher ed websites.

posted by Susan Evans