Web Development FAQs
What inspired the visual design?
The new visual design was based on promotional literature and advertising materials (the “Kyle Style”) that have been used since 2000. The new look is most notably defined by its strong treatment of the Las Positas College name, a focus on using high-quality images of students, programs, the campus, and the consistent use of certain fonts. The emphasis on a consistent visual style is part of a broader effort to create a parallel between the online and on-campus experience with consistent language, i.e. "Student Services".
Why was the website redesigned?
The website redesign project was intended to improve the user experience, and update the underlying web page structure. The 2001 website organized the content, but was graphic-heavy, incorporated table-based layout, and contained no dynamic page elements. The redesign only includes institutional content, and does not change any faculty instructional websites.
What is the single purpose of the new site?
The ultimate goal is to ensure that the website is easy to use, and does what users need.
What are the secondary goals of the new site?
- Ensure that current, accurate information is posted on the website. This involves a team of web page maintainers who will be responsible for different areas of the institutional website.
- Create a parallel between the online and on-campus experience with consistent language, i.e. "Student Services", and avoid using internal “educationese” terms or phrases.
- Structure the web pages with templates in web-standards format. Templates help establish and maintain consistency of the visual design, navigation and information layout.
- Intelligent use of cascading style sheets.
How did the homepage design come about?
As web usability expert Jakob Neilson put it, “The homepage is the most important page on any website, getting more page views than any other page. Of course, users don’t always enter a website from the homepage… People may follow links from search engines and other websites that reach deep inside your site. However, one of the first actions these users will take after arriving at a new site is to go to the homepage.”
As a result of reading “Homepage Usability” by Jakob Neilsen, and receiving feedback from the Web Advisory Group, the Las Positas College homepage underwent a massive makeover. The new homepage features a very unique design that emerged from many revisions.
The main goal of the homepage was to provide quick links to get users to their goals right away. The WAG also felt it was important to keep the content ‘above the fold’ so that users would not have to scroll down the page to access any information.
One idea that was ultimately discarded was to rotate images featuring different academic programs. Unfortunately, it is impossible to effectively feature a permanent link to all Las Positas College programs from the homepage, no matter how clever the design. It is also difficult to justify that one program is more important or popular over another program.
What is the .php at the end of the web address?
‘PHP’ officially stands for ‘PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor’. (The first ‘p’ is silent, like the ‘p’ at the beginning of pneumonia.) Instead of the web addresses ending in .htm, they will be ending in .php.
What does PHP do?
(Pardon the Geek Speak...) PHP is a server-side HTML embedded scripting language. It provides webmasters with a full suite of tools for building dynamic websites. Among other things, a PHP script can display the date on a webpage that indicates when that page was last updated...like the date at the bottom of this (and every) webpage at Las Positas College!
Will there be a template that I can use?
All institutional programs and organizations at the college will be using a single web page template that will ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities and a consistent visual and user experience.
An instructional template for faculty and their personal websites is currently being developed.
How will webpages be updated?
In the past, Las Positas College web pages have been updated using Macromedia Dreamweaver. This is an incredibly powerful, professional tool that can do many advanced tasks, and can be overwhelming to non-technical users. It’s like driving a Hummer to buy a gallon of milk at the corner store. To simplify the process, Las Positas plans to introduce a new web content management program called Macromedia Contribute.
Macromedia Contribute will enable a team of trained web page maintainers to follow a simple 3-step process to browse, edit and publish changes to web page content for different areas of the website. Allowing individual department “experts” access to their specific area of the site will streamline the process – edits don’t have to be funneled through the Webmaster. We can also ensure that current, accurate information is posted on the website, while maintaining consistent design standards. Authorized users will edit web pages directly in Contribute and, in some cases, can even merge content from existing Microsoft Office documents into web pages.
Do you have guidelines for creating Web pages?
Web Style Guidelines are currently being drafted by the Webmaster and Web Advisory Group and will be available to the college soon.
Who are the members of the Web Advisory Group?
The nine members of the Web Advisory Group represent key areas of the college, including faculty, staff, library resources, marketing, information technology, and student services:
- Elizabeth Noyes, Webmaster (chair)
- Jennifer Aries, Public Information Officer
- Janet Brehe-Johnson, Speech Faculty
- Lettie Camp, Career/Student Employment/Transfer Center
- Roni Jennings, Student Services
- Greg Johns, Instructional Computer Laboratory Specialist
- Peggy Carter, Librarian
- Fredda Cassidy, Visual Communications Faculty
- Moh Daoud, CIS/CNT Faculty
- Visual Communication Program Students
What does the WAG do?
The Web Advisory Group is a committee aimed at updating and improving the website for Las Positas College. The group is concerned with the following issues:
- Site navigation and hierarchy: How to organize web content, what to label it, what file structures and servers to use, and how to train individuals.
- Content management: How faculty, staff, and Webmaster will update web pages; what web editors should be used, how faculty and staff will upload pages, target dates, consequences, infrastructure, for process, etc.
- Regular maintenance and updates: How faculty and staff will be responsible for fresh content, accessibility, appropriate use; Role of District, IT, Webmaster, etc. in education and enforcement.