Minutes June 15

Jeremy demoed a new program minisite for a sponsored program. We agreed on these next steps:

  • Soni will combine the Snapshot and About tabs
  • The Comm Team will word-smith the tab labels
  • Soni will put the Onsite Guide at bottom of the About tab
  • Soni will add a Contact tab
  • Soni will fix the CSS so it looks nice
  • Jeremy will begin planning the minisite for a co-sponsored program

At the time of the meeting, Jeremy and Soni thought they could complete their work by the end of the month. However, Soni was sucked into the Peoplesoft vortex and Jeremy was pulled onto other tasks. The new deadline is July 17th. The goal is to have a solid minisite template to show to Sheila.

Building Blocks


Lest you feel we're making no progress on the Searchable Program Database... in fact everything we're working on now is groundwork for SPD. Repeating what I said in our last meeting:

Peoplesoft is where all program data originates. It's sparse but it's the starting point. Programs will be entered first in Peoplesoft, then sucked into a FileMaker database where it acquires flesh, then pushed onto the web in the form of a minisite. The Peoplesoft project is moving ahead and is on track for one of the months with a b in it. Christopher, or me, or both of us (it's not decided yet) will build the FileMaker mirror.

New Web Templates form the base layer upon which all our content floats. It needs an upgrade to be compliant with web standards and to clean up code which can't help but get messy over time. This piece includes tweaks to the stylesheet Katie and I demoed a few meetings ago.

New Program Minisite. Since we have to rebuild the program minisite anyway, we may as well revisit how the information is organized. Why do we need to rebuild it? Because the content will be coming from a database and not hand-coded by Programmers. This is what Jeremy's been working on which he demoed at the last meeting.

eSAMAS. Though it's not pictured above, the eSAMAS initiative is part of this grand effort. Zach and Brook will be the eSAMAS voice at the table. We had to peel off from the larger, unit-wide initiative to make this happen. What we build here, we will share with the other campuses.

Google Analytics Procedure

  1. Go to http://www.google.com
  2. At the bottom of the Google homepage, click on the "Business Solutions" link
  3. "Analytics" is a link in the middle of the page, under the "Enhance Your Website" heading. Click that link
  4. Click on "Access Analytics", the big button in the upper left
  5. The direct url for this page is http://www.google.com/analytics/
  6. Log in with the credentials you get from Soni
  7. Click the "view report" link for www.umabroad.umn.edu
Dashboard Features

On the left is the main navigation, and on the right is the customizable dashboard. The dashboard can be rearranged by clicking on the upper-left corner of each section. In addition, any report within analytics can be added to this dashboard summary by clicking on the "add to dashboard" button in the upper left heading of any specific report's page. The "Top Content" report is used the most.

Using the Top Content Section

Within this report, all information about any specific page within the website can be tracked. The sections most useful to LAC staffers include:

  • Number of page hits
  • Average time spent on page
  • How visitors arrived at the page, and where they went next

To find a page's visitor information, enter a keyword from that page's title into the "Find Page Containing" searchbox in the lower left corner of the "Top Content" report's table.

To find information on program pages that deal with Florence, type "Florence" into the searchbox. Every page within the Florence directory of the LAC website will appear. Bbrowse the list to find the desired program pages. This results table is also useful for finding information about which pages with a specific program are the most viewed.

To understand where visitors came from and where they went, go to the "Navigation Summary" link on the right side of the page. Here, information can be found about a page's common entry and exit pages within the site.

For example, to find information on navigation to and from the Montpellier program's "Confirmation Checklist" page:

  1. Go to the "Top Content" section from the dashboard (analytics home page).
  2. Type "Montpellier" in the search box.
  3. "Confirmation Checklist" is on the "accept" page in the Montpellier directory. Click "programs/EUROPE/montpellier/accept.shtml" result in the "Top Content" table.
  4. You are now on the "Confirmation Checklist" ("accept.shtml") results page. Click "Navigation Summary" on the right side of the page.
  5. Behold the wealth of information. You're done!
Checking Search Box Inquiries and Stats
  1. Click on the "Content" link in the left hand navigation
  2. Click on the "Site Search" button in the menu that appears

All of the relevant information is on this page. Keep in mind that due to a coding error, the search was not being tracked accurately prior to 05/12/09.

Changing the Date parameters

Many times it can be useful to only see results for given span of time. To change the date range shown in the tables, graphs, and stats, simply click on the date field in the upper right corner of any analytics page.

  1. Click on the desired starting date, followed by the desired ending date.
  2. Click "apply."

Keep in mind that this will change the date range for all of the analytics pages. This date range will revert to the default "month" range after the user signs out.

Link Checking in Xenu

Xenu checks our pages for bad links to other sites. To log in,

  1. Open Windows with Virtual Box and find Xenu in the applications list.
  2. When opened go to the "Xenu" menu in the menu bar and run a new report on the umabroad website.
  3. This report typically takes about 40 minutes, so plan ahead!
  4. To find where a bad link is located on the LAC site, right-click on a result and go to "properties". The location of the link will be listed here.

Xenu does return a number of bad results. Don't worry about results that list a local path (Google Analytics is a better tool for tracking those down) and Wikipedia sites always return bad results. This is because they block the Xenu spiders. Also, don't worry about broken links that list "redir" as the problem. Those links usually work just fine. It's a good idea to make sure that the links are actually broken with the Xenu results before spending time trying to track down and fix a link that already works. Xenu does work pretty well, but it takes a little getting used to.

Link Checking in Google

Analytics is used to check the internal links of the LAC website, in addition to links from other websites that have broken links to our site. To do this,

  1. Log into the Live website's Google Analytics results.
  2. Click on the "Top Content" section.
  3. In the search bar below the "Top Content" table type in "404". This will return all of the pages that link to broken pages on the website.
  4. Hover over individual links to see both the source of the bad link, and where that page attempted to link to.
  5. Fix the link and make the updated page live!

It is a good idea to limit the date range to within a few recent days of activity. This eliminates the possibility of Analytics returning links that have already been fixed and also makes the list much more manageable.

When checking broken links that link internally, simply change the link! If the correct content no longer exists, or if there is anything that requires changing more than just the link's direction, contact Brian and Jeremy. When doing this, provide the address of the page with the broken link, and the title of the link, along with the inquiry.

When fixing links from outside websites, contact the Webmaster with a form letter like the one below that outlines the problem, and request a change. Be sure to BCC Antonia when sending this letter:

Hello, my name is Brendan, and I do webmaster work for the Learning Abroad Center at the University of Minnesota. I was checking source paths that commonly link to our error page and I found a bad link on your site. The link is on "http://www.wvu.edu/~intlprog/scholarships.html"under the "Online Study Abroad Scholarship Searches" section and is titled "http://www.internationalscholarships.com". The correct link is "http://www.umabroad.umn.edu/financial/scholarships/index.html". If you could change this link, it would be much appreciated!

Server Setup

By way of Christopher, "Here is the intention behind the modified OIP Web Server configuration."

Thumbnail of server set up diagram

Some Changes

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This is my first post on this blog, so bear with me.

I've been working on a few changes with Soni regarding how our website may function in the future. One of the main areas I focused my attention on is the way media is displayed on our site.

Our site has quite a few profile videos as well as some pictures scattered around. However, there really isn't a consistent way that media is displayed on our website, especially pictures.

The Sydney program has a good example of one of the ways pictures are presented to users: http://umabroad.umn.edu/PROGRAMS/ASIA/sydney/about.shtml

When one scrolls their mouse over a picture on this page, a pop-up of the image is immediately displayed on the right side of the page. In essence, this works, but has some fundamental flaws.

  1. It isn't persistent. If you move your mouse away from the thumbnail image, the larger image disappears.
  2. You can't copy the larger image, or save it, to your computer. The only image you can do this with is the small thumbnail...which isn't very useful as a standalone image.
  3. The process used to perform this action on these images isn't useful as a whole. It only works on images, as far as I can tell.

I found a bit of javascript that works very well with images, video, text, and more. I used the Cuernavaca webpage as a model (I didn't pick Cuernavaca for any reason other than I just needed some content). You can see how this text works with images here: http://dev-lac.umn.edu/it/cuernavacatest/index.html

Picture 4.png

It also works with text, essentially removing it from being placed directly on a webpage, but keeping it very accessible: http://dev-lac.umn.edu/it/cuernavacatest/about.html (click on Learning Abroad Center)

Mission: The Web SWG defines and cultivates a strategic vision for the Learning Abroad Center website; maintains consistency of all content; steers development; and maintains the website as an extensive, accessible, and robust marketing tool.