• 99 problems but my grid ain’t one

    What is a grid system?

    a structure comprising a series of horizontal and vertical lines, used to arrange content

    Nearly all sites these days are designed upon a grid system for laying out elements on the page. It allows us as designers to provide a system that can work with a solid structure and present content and imagery in a much more readable, manageable way. Grid systems have always been used in the printing industry as standard but their transition into web design has allowed web designers to achieve a level of consistency which would otherwise be difficult to achieve.

    The grid system will inevitability be invisible to the end user but it will allow for a site that users will find easy to navigate, read and understand. This is very important as a lack of alignment of elements is very noticeable and creates a sloppy impression. This might very well result in a lack of trust from users who visit your site.

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  • Managing design at scale consistently – introducing our digital design system

    As you may have heard or read about, we are currently restructuring, rebuilding and redesigning the university website.

    As Design Manager within the Web Services team, this is one of the most significant projects of my time here so far. In fact, it will be one of the biggest challenges of my 14-year career. And I’ve wrestled with HTML nested tables and Internet Explorer 6…

    So I’ve been thinking about how we can prepare for this challenge. What have been the common design-related problems on projects in the past? What are the issues affecting design that typically come up in a large project? What can we do to prepare for the significant amount of design work that will be part of this project?

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  • What our applicants really want from our website

    As we’ve said in previous posts, we’ve spent a lot of time collecting user stories relating to the audiences using our website. That gave us a lot of information, but it doesn’t really tell us what the really important tasks are for users (top tasks) and what are the not so important tasks (tiny tasks). This is where the next phase of our research comes in.

    We’ve identified three distinct primary audiences that our website has to work for.

    There are a number of other audiences that don’t fall into these categories, but they represent a smaller proportion of traffic. Whilst we will be keeping them in mind as we develop, and will be delivering specific solutions for them in the future, the above audiences are our initial focus.

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  • What staff really want from our website

    I’ve covered the background to this research in my post about what prospective students want from our websites.

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  • What current students really want from our website

    I’ve covered the background to this research in my post about what prospective students want from our websites.

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  • Scottish Web Folk

    There are many ways to spend a sunny Friday afternoon in October, but by far the best way, last Friday at least, was in the company of almost 50 web professionals from 12 different institutions across Scotland.

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  • T4 Infrastructure Changes

    We’re taking the opportunity to bring the infrastructure that supports our Content Management System (CMS) [TerminalFour/T4] into line and fix some issues that we’ve had with our setup for a number of years. In the past we’ve had neither the time, resources or the chance to address it, until now.

    Most users won’t have noticed any issues (as we work very hard to ensure that you don’t) but inside the web team, these issues have an impact on a regular basis. We have two main problems:
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  • 10 Design principles to help us build a better website

    As part of the process of starting again and building a new and improved www.dundee.ac.uk, the design team here in Web Services are making big preparations to make sure we’re ready. Ready for what exactly? Ready to start again and rethink everything we have ever designed. Every button, every text style, every page layout. We’re starting again with open minds, ready to listen to what our users need to help them meet their goals, to get the information they need, to enjoy their experience visiting our website.

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  • CMS Authentication upgrade

    It’s not flashing lights and glamour all the time in the web team, we do a lot of work which we hope you never even notice going on.

    This week we made some important changes to the way we handle authentication to the CMS. When you sign into the CMS we authenticate you using a protocol called LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). Some time ago now UoD IT introduced a new LDAP server to improve performance and resilience of the service. They’re hoping to decommission the old server soon and so we needed to do some work to keep our CMS up and running!

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  • Studying Abroad – or “How I learned to stop worrying and love SITS”

    So, three years ago, we moved course pages into the CMS from their former home on our good old-fashioned artisan web server Sky. After that was completed, we began moving Studying Abroad from its three former homes into one.

    It went horribly wrong

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