The Toolkit has been going through some housekeeping - and some brand assets have moved. The UCCE logo has been moved under the Family of Brands page, along with a new 4-H page. The UCCE Centennial Toolkit is also now nested under the Family of Brands.
And if you'd like to sport a UC ANR fleece vest, you can now order one on our swag page.
Don't forget! Toolkit Trainings are coming soon - so register today if you'd like to attend the training in Davis or South Coast REC in June.
- Author: Dave Krause
We keep a list of things that need to be changed or added to Site Builder, and although we address critical issues immediately, sometimes enhancements can sit for quite a while before implementation.
Two examples of "listed" items got their day in court this week and are now officially part of Site Builder.
First, we've added the ability to change or add a still image to FLV and MPG videos. If you've ever uploaded a video in one of these formats, you may have seen this once you added it to the page:
The video is there, but there is no still image under the centered white arrow. That just won't do! Our video upload tool tries to capture a still for each FLV and MP4 video added, but sometimes it doesn't work, and other times, the actual video starts several seconds after clicking play, and the routine captures a black frame.
Now, you can add your own still image to your videos! So instead of the black frame, you can have something like this:
I know. It's 100% BETTER!
To add or replace a still image on one of your videos, log into Site Builder and edit the video in the master File Library. You should see the "Replace Still" option under the File Alignment option.
The second enhancement made to the system this week is something you might have already noticed. On the left navigation, there is now a small notch to help indicate the current page. Here's an example:
It's subtle, and we may ultimately enhance it further. This notch should help those sites that have longer left navigation lists.
Questions? Want to get your enhancement request on our list? Add a comment to this post!
Some of the hardest decisions I make in Web site design are about the order of the left navigation.
A couple of years ago when we did the Carewords research, I preached the gospel of making better informed decisions about how content is placed on a home page instead of defaulting to an alphabetical listing.
Now it seems there's additional research that A-Z sorting is not user-friendly.
According to Jacob Nielsen, people rarely think A-Z. Either "users don't know the name of the thing that they want, making A-Z listings worthless" or "the items have an inherent logic that dictates a different sort order, which makes A-Z listings harmful because they hide that logic."
Users only think A-Z if they know the entire set. Nielsen further asserts that only lazy design teams use A-Z!
Better sorting? Read the full article.
We talk a lot about the placing your most important Web content "above the fold," but findings from the Eyetrack III study reveal additional information about the importance of placement.
Eyetracking is research that tracks where a person's eyes look while reading, then analyzes the data to reveal patterns. By combining and reviewing data from multiple individuals during testing, they discover representative patterns that apply to most of the population.
While this study focused on the top 25 news sites, there's critical information here for anyone managing content and navigation on any site.
This study revealed that visitors to a site first look at the upper left corner.
This graphic illustrates the "zones of importance" based on eye movement.
Other findings include:
- Partial viewing of headlines is common
Viewing just the left one-third of a headline or blurb is common
The researches estimate that headlines catch less than one second of a viewer's attention
- Top navigation performs best
- Shorter paragraphs perform best
Proving again that your cursor is your best Web editing friend
- Smaller type encourages reading while large type encourages scanning
I don't know what to do with this one. As a general rule I would not recommend the use of smaller type to encourage reading.
Findings of the Eyetrack III study were released by The Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism & New Media, and Eyetools.
If you want to learn more about eyetracking technology and Web usability, you can also check out Jakob Nielson's site and the Nielson Norman Group's book Eyetracking Web Usability.
Bob Johnson, our consultant on the Carewords project, sent me some updated information on their findings on what makes a Web site effective:
- Website management is about managing tasks, not content.
Do you know what people want to do when they come to your site? Helping people complete tasks should be the driving force behind initial site design and ongoing site management.
- Navigation is more important than looks
In Carewords surveys in any type of organization (government, private firm, higher education) it is rare for people to complain about the "visual appeal" of the website.
In almost every case, the primary complaint is about "confusing menus and links" that prevent task completion.
- It is impossible to create good navigation without knowing the tasks that bring people to the website.
It is impossible to know those tasks without asking web visitors what they are. Survey first, design second.
- Edit, Edit, Edit
A content management system (like SB3) is a mixed blessing as it often leads to content proliferation without regard to whether or not the content helps people complete tasks.
Too much content is dangerous to effective navigation and search.
Content creators should ask themselves a simple question: what task am I helping people complete by creating this content?
Much content is created but little content is ever reviewed and removed. To start, use Google Analytics or a similar program to identify pages on a website that are seldom if ever visited. Why are they still on the website?
- Brand reputation and Web experience is linked
Brand reputation depends in no small part on the experience people have on your website.
People who can't easily complete the tasks they wish to complete on your site will not hold your brand in high esteem no matter the snappy tagline, beautiful pictures, or success stories told.