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City University London Web Team

Category Archives: General

Job: Web Services Developer

General .

Update 4th June 2014: This position is no longer vacant.

As a Web Services Developer, you will work building responsive, accessible, and standards-compliant websites, using modern technologies and according to best practices and provide second line support for content editors.

  • Full job description [pdf, 111Kb]
    • Salary: to £40,046
    • Holiday: 27 days annual leave plus 8 statutory and 4 additional days over Christmas.
    • Pension: Public Sector Pension (Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS))
    • Training: Generous

Who we are

You’ll join a new team of 7 web experts with a wide range of skills from UX design to PHP development to Front-end engineering. We are responsible for delivering the University websites, mobile web apps, online applications and intranet. The user is at the centre of everything we do and we are passionate about our products and the evolving technologies we use to build them.

We’re fanatical about the web, inquisitive and always learning new techniques, skills and tech.

How to apply

Complete a simple form, including your CV and any links to your projects or portfolio.

Closing date

April 21st at 00:00 (…but let us know if you miss it).

Moar jobs!

We’re growing a new team! You might also like these similar roles…

Contact us

Job: Junior Web Developer

General .

Update 4th June 2014: This position is no longer vacant.

As Junior Web Developer, you will work building responsive, accessible, and standards-compliant websites, using modern technologies and according to best practices and provide second line support for content editors.

  • Full job description [pdf, 111Kb]
    • Salary: to £35,597
    • Holiday: 27 days annual leave plus 8 statutory and 4 additional days over Christmas.
    • Pension: Public Sector Pension (Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS))
    • Training: Generous

Who we are

You’ll join a new team of 7 web experts with a wide range of skills from UX design to PHP development to Front-end engineering. We are responsible for delivering the University websites, mobile web apps, online applications and intranet. The user is at the centre of everything we do and we are passionate about our products and the evolving technologies we use to build them.

We’re fanatical about the web, inquisitive and always learning new techniques, skills and tech. We also frequently attend industry events and the pubs around Exmouth Market =)

How to apply

Complete a simple form, including your CV and any links to your projects or portfolio.

Closing date

April 21st at 00:00 (…but let us know if you miss it).

Moar jobs!

We’re growing a new team! You might also like these similar roles…

Contact us

Say hello at webteam.jobs@city.ac.uk

Job: Web Developer

General .

Update 4th June 2014: This position is no longer vacant.

As a Web Developer, you will work building responsive, accessible, and standards-compliant websites, using modern technologies and according to best practices and provide second line support for content editors.

  • Full job description [pdf, 111Kb]
    • Salary: to £40,046
    • Holiday: 27 days annual leave plus 8 statutory and 4 additional days over Christmas.
    • Pension: Public Sector Pension (Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS))
    • Training: Generous

Who we are

You’ll join a new team of 7 web experts with a wide range of skills from UX design to PHP development to Front-end engineering. We are responsible for delivering the University websites, mobile web apps, online applications and intranet. The user is at the centre of everything we do and we are passionate about our products and the evolving technologies we use to build them.

We’re fanatical about the web, inquisitive and always learning new techniques, skills and tech. We also frequently attend industry events and the pubs around Exmouth Market =)

How to apply

Complete a simple form, including your CV and any links to your projects or portfolio.

Closing date

April 21st at 00:00 (…but let us know if you miss it).

Moar jobs!

We’re growing a new team! You might also like these similar roles…

Contact us

Say hello at webteam.jobs@city.ac.uk

Social networking in higher education

General.

Between facebooking and tweeting and widgets and trolls, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and out of touch when it comes to all things social media.

With these terms thrown around on TV, at the pub and now in the office, it is only natural to feel the panic set in and an urge to spend the afternoon creating accounts, “friending” people and picking out the all important profile picture.

Using social media for marketing purposes is the norm now with big businesses like Coca-Cola and Nike getting in on the action. Not only do they have a presence on social networking sites but they also include user-generated content on their own sites which ultimately adds more credibility to their brand.

When it comes to how businesses are engaging on popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, the key to their success is that the business isn’t doing the talking, the people in the business are. (Or in the case of Coca-Cola, a couple of diehard fans are.) 

Organisations should be using social networks for two reasons – strengthening the brand and building relationships. By creating a presence on these networks, you give your customers the space to talk to one another and also give you valuable feedback.

The idea is not to control the conversation but to be a part of it. Social media is all about fostering relationships and sharing information. After you’ve put out your message – your brand – it is imperative to respect the dialogue by doing most of the listening.

Last summer the University’s market research manager surveyed national and international prospective students on their social media usage. We discovered that students actually would like their University to have a presence on social networking sites if they were getting something in return.

What did they want? The prospective students said they would be interested in finding course-related updates, careers information and workshops, and opportunities to network with other students – to name a few. Sounds easy enough.

Facebook was the most widely recognized and most frequently used among the students so we started there. With several unofficial groups set up mostly by students, we believed there was a need for an official page for the University.

But we know it isn’t enough to just have a page up there with a few photos and links to University events. Our “fans” want something more.

Like most things, it comes down to lack of resources and a bit of fear thrown in. When you suggest having a discussion board and invite students to ask questions and share experiences, you’re taking a risk that someone at some point will say something negative about the University. You need to be sure you have the resources to man the discussions, to watch and report back, and to jump in if need be.

It all sounds easy. After all, joining a social network is free and it can be an amazing tool. But that’s all it is – a tool – not the be all and end all of driving recruitment and improving the student experience.

More than anything else, we need a strategy for the University that would allow us to strengthen our presence and really create a space where students – our customers – can speak freely and we can learn from them.

In the meantime, we’re focusing on how we can use social networks right now:

  • Sharing University news
  • Publicising events
  • Promoting student activities and achievements
  • Recruiting students for photo shoots for promotional material
  • Notifying students and staff if ever there were an emergency

How do you use social media to engage with students? Where do you think we could improve? Let us know how you think we could build the University brand by using social networks.

We’ll be here, listening.

Pragmatic accessibility

General.

Web accessibility guidelines are a mess, but that doesn’t mean we can’t develop a coherent accessibility policy.

The second session of Headscape’s EdWeb 2009 conference (I previously blogged about the first session on becoming a user-centric institution) tackled the ever-thorny topic of accessibility. Why’s it such a difficult issue? Well for a start, web accessibility legislation has a reputation for being confused and ill-defined. Moreover, there’s just so much of it – anoyone for DDA, PAS78, Section 508, RNIB See it Right, WCAG 1, WCAG 2, etc etc?

While traditionally there has been disagreement within the web development community about the best way to act on the inherently weak W3C guidelines, WCAG 2.0 appears to be a positive step forward. Why? Because it stresses principles of web accessibility and non-measurable guidelines, and in doing so it:

  1. Takes us beyond a checklist mentality, and in doing so gets us thinking about the spirit rather than the letter of the law.
  2. Downplays the importance of conformance levels (“our website is AAA-compliant – ner ner ner ner nerrrrrrr!“)

But ‘web accessibility’ isn’t just about the traditional understanding of ‘disability’;  we should give it the widest possible interpretation – allowing our content to be accessed by the widest possible audience – and in doing so think about issues like bandwidth, old browsers, alternative devices, assistive technologies, mobiles, seach engine optimisation, etc. etc.

So what should our strategy be for dealing with this interpretation of web accessibility? Here’s the 6-Step Plan:

  1. Start with the basics (‘alt’ tags for images,resizable text, Standards-based code, etc).
  2. Educate out content editors.
  3. Create policies for hard to implement functionality, e.g. video captioning, media alternatives.
  4. Respond quickly to accessibility support requests. Fix or explain; never ignore.
  5. Introduce Graded Browser Support.
  6. Provide simple user guidelines for changing browser settings and making our website easier to read.

Serena Collage and Internet Explorer (IE) 8 Fix

General , , , .

Microsoft have this week released a bundle of updates and security patches for Windows XP and Vista users that includes a recommended upgrade from Internet Explorer (IE) 7 to IE 8. Upgrading will probably mean that you will not be able to upload assets (e.g. images, Word files, Excel files) to the CMS. To fix this problem, you will need to follow the steps below:

  1. In IE, click ‘Tools’ then ‘Internet Options’.
  2. Select the ‘Security’ tab.
  3. Select the ‘Trusted Sites’ icon, then select the ‘Sites’ button.
  4. In the ‘Trusted Sites’ window, type ‘https://*.city.ac.uk’ (without the quote marks) into the ‘Add this website to the zone’ field, select the ‘Add’ button then the ‘Close’ button.
  5. Now select the ‘Custom level…’ button.
  6. Find the “Miscellaneous” section and look for the option that says “Include local directory path when uploading files to a server”
  7. Make sure that option is Enabled.
  8. Select ‘OK’, and ‘OK’ again to close all the Internet Options windows.

You should now be able to upload files to the CMS using IE8.

Becoming a user-centric institution

Development, General, Website , , , , , .

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to get away from sunny Northampton Square to attend two excellent events for HEI ‘web professionals’. A couple of weeks ago I took part in the inaugural session of a networking meet-up for London university web people, organised by the excellent University of the Arts team. UCL’s Jeremy Speller has already blogged about this so I won’t go into too much detail, but it was fascinating to find that we’re all facing the same problems, and were eager to talk about the same issues, namely:

  • management of content (quality, quantity, CMS selection)
  • use of outsourced vs. internal resources
  • organisational issues, bureaucracy, politics
  • appropriate usage of emerging technologies (notably Twitter), and best practice use of social media tools for student engagement

Unsurprisingly, the same issues cropped up frequently during the excellent two-day EdWeb 2009 workshop hosted by the gents at Headscape, about which I plan to blog over the coming days.The first session, entitled ‘Becoming a user-centric institution’, was particularly pertinent for City University because of the plethora of major digital projects that we are committed to, namely website redevelopment, Portal and CRM.

User testing should be a no-brainer, but Paul Boag argued (justifiably) that the HEI sector has a terrible track record for developing websites and applications with user needs as the number one priority, and we see evidence of this everywhere. Oftentimes, ‘user acceptance testing’ is no more than a process to verify that an application or process ‘works’;

we think that most users can complete the form, and the back-end business processes are all working, so everything’s fine….

What’s missing here is a focus on user objectives rather than business objectives, and an appreciation that user testing provides a valuable opportunity to enhance the user experience; to quote usability guru Jared Spool, “its real forte is in telling you where the interface causes frustration”.

Aside from the specifics of how to conduct a user testing session, the main thrust of this session was that none of the ‘traditional’ excuses for avoiding user testing (no time, no money, no understanding of the benefits, no expertise, etc) are relevant or insurmountable, and that a we should be adopting a ‘little and often’ approach to user testing throughout the development cycle i.e.:

  • during requirements gathering (test the existing site or application)
  • when developing Information Architecture, taxonomy
  • design stage
  • build stage
  • post-launch

This makes a great deal of sense, and I think we all came away with a renewed desire to educate our institutions on the benefits of user-centered design.

Web Team Love

General.

Web Teams’ everywhere must provide support for their users alongside their applications and websites which are, of course, their primary professional interest and responsibility. Consequently it was very refreshing to get some positive feedback about this facet of our work at the end of a long, hard, Friday.

We’re posting this to share the positivity if, like us, most of your contact with users involves low level technical support.

Hi Larry,

Have you got a compliment form available?

The Web Support Team is the most effective and efficient team I have ever dealt with!

Thank you,

Raquel

(of course if you’d like to massively inflate our collective ego do surf our feedback form!)

Citypedia

General , , , , , .

It’s always good to discover cool new applications that actually have some value, and they’re even more useful when they provide some insight into how users are searching for information about City University.

One such tool that I recently came across while surfing the always-interesting makeuseof.com is Wikirank, which provides a Google Analytics-style visual representation of the number of page views each Wikipedia entry has received over time.

It also allows a comparison of the ‘popularity’ of entries, so for example we can compare Wikipedia searches for City University, Cass Business School and Malcolm Gillies:

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City, University of London

Northampton Square

London EC1V 0HB

United Kingdom

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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