Web Publishers’ Community – April 2017 update
This month’s WPC session focused on using short URLs, human centred design processes being developed for the University and a guide to getting started with Drupal development.
Short/Friendly URLs and campaign tracking – Steven Ross
Steven Ross from Communications and Marketing introduced us to the University suite of short URLs and how and when to use them. He also talked about creating campaign tracking addresses using a Google service.
The URL suite is a collection of ways to present URLs in more useful ways. Shorter or more readable or better able to be tracked and analysed.
An option within EdWeb which creates a much shorter URL path, useful for printing on posters for example, which points to an EdWeb page with a longer address.
Short URL (unfriendly)
A service which runs on the bit.ly system, but gives us a trackable and University branded shortened URL using the edin.ac prefix.
Short URL (Friendly)
A relatively new option of changing the suffix of an edin.ac short URL to be more readable. For example, http://edin.ac/uX1e8Y might become http://edin.ac/google-analytics.
Using a service such as Google Campaign URL Builder, much more detailed information can be tracked and analysed. This creates a long and complicated URL, but can be used in conjunction with the edin.ac services to hide the complex variables.
Human Centred Design processes for the University – Magdalena Tsiobanelis
Magdalena Tsiobanelis told us about her work on human centred design processes currently being developed to support digital transformation and service excellence. She then ran a mini-workshop asking us to think about our own experiences of bringing users into development projects.
This design and management framework aims to put humans at the centre of the design process rather than addressing it from a purely technical perspective.
Human centred design
The idea of human centred design is to involve the users at all stages of a design process. By talking to and observing the people who will use a system, we can see what they actually do and what is valued by them. Once these user needs are identified, possible solutions can be continuously evaluated against them.
Working in multidisciplinary teams with as wide an array of roles as possible gives many perspectives. These perspectives generate lots of different ideas to try out.
By trying out ideas in a quick and cheap way, multiple approaches can be tested, which helps to identify and solve problems as you go. The motto is to “fail small, early and cheap”.
Magdalena then took us through a mini workshop session sharing our own experiences of involving users in development projects.
Quick start guide to Drupal Development – Billy Wardrop
Billy Wardrop gave us a whistle stop tour of how to get started in Drupal development.
Drupal is the complex content management system that underlies EdWeb, our own CMS.
Billy introduced us to Drupal itself, the content types, modules, themes and distributions which comprise a Drupal system.
He took us through the elements of a development environment and the many options for required or helpful software on various platforms.
Billy talked about three types of developer: site builder, themer and module/back end developer, with each level getting a bit more deeply into the code.
Skills required range from HTML and CSS to PHP and basic database design.
Lynda.com, which we have access to within the University, has excellent tutorials on many of the related skills.
Billy stressed that learning by doing is very important with Drupal. The system is complex and attempting to solve real world problems gives a much greater understanding of how it all fits together.
Drupal is Open Source and there is a very active developer community, both worldwide and within the University.
The Tech Peer Group have a wealth of knowledge and can help.
UWP run regular code sprints to involve the wider University Drupal community in EdWeb development.
Join us at our next Web Publishers’ Community, Wednesday, 31 May.