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Web Publishers’ Community – August update

This month’s WPC session focused on top tasks management, Snapshot (a new tool to evaluate your EdWeb site) and Drupal development experiences.

Web Publishers’ Community August 2017 presentation slides (EASE login needed)

EdWeb CMS project update – Bruce Darby

Bruce updated us on the latest from the EdWeb development project.

Earlier this summer, we deployed social media sharing buttons. The functionality displays Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and email share buttons across your whole site. You can add them to your site through our sign-up form.

Request social media share buttons on your site (form)

During our latest deployment, we fixed the previously broken image shown with OpenOffice file assets. It was a relatively minor change, but the work done by our very own Billy Wardrop was fed back into the Drupal community. In Bruce’s words, we’ve fixed it for the world.

Our next development work will focus on:

  • Allowing images to display when EdWeb links are shared through Twitter
  • Tracking clicks for social media shares
  • Editor control of where social media buttons appear
  • Moving the MyEd login button from the website footer to a more prominent position
  • Visitor feedback for pages

Further down the line, we’ll be looking into migrating to Drupal 8 and enhancing the event content type.

Top tasks in website management – Duncan Stephen

Duncan made his WPC debut, providing us an overview of top tasks methodology. This is a methodology popularised by Gerry McGovern that allows you to a gain strong understanding of your users’ needs.

Top tasks is about getting to know your long neck – the few tasks that account for most of your customers’ business with you. If you were to look at your site’s most viewed pages or top search queries on a graph, you’d find that only a few items account for most of your views/searches (the long neck), while you have many other pages/search terms that don’t receive that much attention (the long tail).

Getting to know your long neck – read Neil Allison’s blog post

Duncan took us through the process of how to carry out a top tasks survey. When it comes to wording your tasks, Gerry McGovern emphasises to lead with the need. This means eliminating or avoiding:

  • verbs (the noun is the task)
  • dirty magnets (terms like FAQs and quick links)
  • formats (for example, forms or videos)
  • brands/corporate jargon

When it comes to recruiting participants to complete your survey, Duncan recommended making use of email distribution lists and sticking a link to the survey in the footer of your site.

Top task management – read Duncan Stephen’s blog post

Snapshot – Duncan MacGruer

Duncan introduced our new sitemapping tool, Snapshot.

Our primary motivation to create Snapshot was that we’ve received requests over the years for sitemaps, but we haven’t seen a third party tool we recommend using.

Snapshot was also an opportunity to replace previous tools that didn’t work with EdWeb (cookie crawler, content freshness tool) and mitigate any perceived data protection risks related to invasive third-party cookies.

Snapshot provides a summary of your EdWeb site, including:

  • a breakdown of your site’s structure (excluding EASE protected and unpublished pages)
  • cookie information
  • filtering options to narrow down by URL or content type
  • the ability to export your site structure as a mind map


The experience of Drupal development – David McKain

David from the School of Physics and Astronomy joined us to talk about his experience working with the EdWeb development team this summer, and lessons we can all learn about collaborative working.

David was collocated with IS Apps for two 9-day iterations in June and July, working on a series of EdWeb improvements, such as:

  • adding basic support for mathematical formulae
  • making EdWeb EASE modules more reusable outside EdWeb
  • PostgreSQL compatibility for distro users

David felt collocating was a great way to focus on work and get fast feedback on it. He learned more about how not only EdWeb works, but the people and processes that go into developing the CMS.

Under lessons learned, David felt there was room for improvement in making sure that relying on established agile processes doesn’t get in the way of common sense.

Snapshot technical background – Patrick Chen

Our summer Employ.ed intern Patrick took us through how he developed Snapshot, covering: the iterative development process, scraping tools, front-end development and hosting.

Future improvements may include embedding Google Analytics data, such showing you what the most popular pages in your site are.

We’re currently working on how we can extend this tool to other University websites, including EdWeb distro sites.

September WPC

Join us at our next Web Publishers’ Community on Wednesday, 27 September.

Web Publishers’ Community wiki (EASE login needed)

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