When less is more, A/B test insights

Last year we re-focused on the admissions area of wayne.edu to reduce the depth of the site (from five to two levels deep) and bring more resources to the front page. As a result the landing page highlights the six most popular audiences and their navigation items.

Each audience has its own landing page, with the same navigation and unique elements which speak to that audience. We found these audience landing pages were being visited less frequently than before the redesign.

Our theory

Initially, we thought users were clicking on a link below their audience heading and getting directly to their needed page. We decided to test this theory using a tool called Hotjar to record where users clicked on the page.

Admissions homepage clickmap

Although each audience listed their entire menu below the headings, the top three items were by far the most popular.

Revised hypothesis

We decided to test if removing the least popular items made it more clear to users that they could visit an audience landing page. If this is the case, are they more likely to visit these pages by clicking the audience heading or ellipse at the bottom of the link list?

“A” variant of the page

Admissions A variant

“B” variant of the page

Admissions B variant

Winner: Shorter list of links with the ellipses

After running the experiment for two weeks, Google found a statistically significant winning version.

Admissions experiment results

Headers or last item ellipse?

Admissions header vs. Ellipse

Of the clicks to the audience landing pages, the headers yielded ~2.5% of the clicks while the ellipses yield ~1%.

Insights

The takeaway from this experiment is it’s possible to go too far while reducing the depth of a website. Having everything accessible from the homepage may be good if you’re familiar with all the options, but it can be overwhelming for unfamiliar users.

Keeping a website as flat as possible while reducing the number of choices to entice users along yields the most interactions. It allows for the addition of refined and contextual content to reinforce a user’s decisions along each page of their journey.

Hiring: Student Web Assistant

The student web assistant will report to the Web Content Administrator and will be the ‘front line’ contact for School of Medicine web requests through email and phone calls.

This person will take the initial request, respond and gather any additional information, complete the request (if small) or elevate it to a staff member when additional assistance is needed or is a larger request.

The position does require some existing knowledge of how the web works, basic HTML and familiarity with web-based content management systems.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • Good written and phone abilities, who is a freshman or sophomore
  • A basic understanding of HTML
  • A basic understanding of web usability
  • Comfortability editing pages in a web-based content management system
  • Experience resizing and optimizing images for the web
  • The ability to detect patterns of requests to create training material and document common responses to frequently asked questions
  • The ability to follow verbal and written directions with an eye for attention to detail

More about the position:

This is a paid position, requiring 15-20 hours a week in the School of Medicine Web Services office.

The volume of requests varies per day, but the average is 20-30 with most taking only a few minutes to complete.

The web assistants role in a request:

A requests comes into the system and depending on the detail of the request:

  • You may need to follow up in email or by phone with additional questions

Once all information is available:

  • Determine which page(s) need editing.
  • Determine how these pages get edited (there may be multiple systems involved), which may require asking some questions internally about the page setup.
  • Ensure the primary contact is looped in on all changes.
  • Facilitate the necessary changes are made (May take a few minutes to a few hours)
    • Including gathering follow up questions/answers
  • After completion, follow up to let the requestor know the change has been completed.

While completing requests it will also be required to document common responses for consistency and to speed up future requests. It will also be required to work closely with the two other School of Medicine Web staff members and the extended Web Communications team. The Web team uses the same servers, tools and already have an extensive library of frequently asked questions and answers.

How to apply

If this sounds like you, email your resume and a cover letter to web@wayne.edu with the subject “Interested in the Student Web Assistant position”.

Photo of the Day, top photos for the year 2016

It has been awesome seeing all the submissions from our community for Wayne State’s Photo of the Day. You all have done a tremendous job of capturing the beauty of our campus and the excitement of Midtown/rebirth of Detroit. The WSU Social Media team compiled a list of our personal favorites as well as top viewed images for 2016.

Editors’ picks

Top viewed

A picture is worth a huge jump in traffic

What could possibly make a webpage’s traffic grow by 235 percent in one year? Our beautiful campus of course!

Last September we launched “Photo of the Day”, a social campaign that focuses on the beauty and uniqueness of our campus and Midtown. The positive reaction has been overwhelming, not only in positive comments, but in positive statistics as well.

Stat overview:

Since September 2015:

  • We have received 658* submissions
  • From 275 individuals in the campus community
  • 337 pics have been featured on the site so far.

*41 of the 658 submissions were duplicates or contained broken files. The total of photographs up for consideration is 617.

Submissions

Submissions have grown nearly 600 percent from 2015 to 2016 with a large jump in October.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-48-46-pm

What is equally as impressive, the quality of the submissions are getting greater each month. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always had high quality photos to showcase, but in the last two months, the quantity of high quality photographs is dramatically higher.

Web traffic

This is first and foremost a social campaign, but of course it has to live on the web. We share the lastest pic on Instagram, Twitter and we recently added it to our Facebook page. All posts link back to the Photo of the Day website.

Unique page visits have grown more than 230 percent from 2015 to 2016. Again, with the most significant jump last month.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-48-25-pm

Our highest traffic day was October 5, 2016 with 158 unique visits featuring the work of Paige Urbano.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-30-15-pm

Social stat – Most liked and most retweets

Our most ‘liked’ pic on Instagram and most retweeted post featured the work of Tyler Neal. This one is a personal favorite as well.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-02-39-pm

 

Social stats – Most impressions

The Photo of the Day tweet with the most impressions (nearly 11,000) was submitted by Justin Jacob. Justin has been a frequent submitter and you can routinely see his work featured on the Wayne State homepage.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-20-33-pm

Looking ahead

In the last few months we started featuring some Photos of the Day on the university homepage and although we can’t get stats on each pic featured, we are again getting very positive feedback. With the success of this feature, we are exploring other avenues to share this extraordinary content.

Submit yours!

Even though the popularity has grown so much, we are still strongly encouraging the community to send in your campus pics! We want to show off campus from everyone’s perspective not just our own.

See the latest selections and submit your own pics at wayne.edu/photo-of-the-day

Hiring: Full Time Senior Web Graphic Designer

We’re looking to fill an existing position for a full-time Web Designer to join our innovative team.

About Web Communications

We handle every aspect of a website project, from the needs analysis, user research, architecture, design, content migration/editing, programming, post-launch analysis and A/B testing. To accomplish this we work like a mini agency within the university.

This position is integral to crafting and ensuring the university identity is integrated into every piece of communication we put out. In addition to full websites, our team is responsible for the digital signage around campus (currently 77 signs and growing), the official social media presence and a number of HTML templates. This position touches all digital mediums and our work is constantly evolving with multiple opportunities for growth, you will see your work published and interacted with on a daily basis.

About Wayne State

Wayne State offers a competitive benefits package that includes, health, dental, paid leave and more. In addition to great benefits, working for Wayne State’s Marketing and Communications team brings you right into the heart of midtown. We are conveniently located at Cass and Palmer and in walking distance of the DIA, the Detroit Historical Museum and some of the top restaurants in the Detroit. In mid-2017, you’ll be steps away from a Q-Rail station that will take you to the newly developed The District Detroit.

Senior Graphic Designer

  • Solid understanding of working with-and designing for-web applications.
  • An understanding of responsive Web design and designing for mobile first.
  • Excellent visual design skills with sensitivity to user-system interaction .
  • Experience working on large-scale higher education websites and/or creating and maintaining corporate design patterns.
  • BS/MS in Human-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, or a Visual Arts subject; strong technical understanding a plus.
  • Minimum of 4+ years’ experience designing web-based products for a consumer-oriented website.
  • Ability to act as a leader in communicating conceptual ideas and design rationales, all within a user-centered design process.
  • Able to work and communicate effectively in a cross-functional product development team, and present ideas and designs effectively.
  • Self-motivated to prioritize and manage workload, and meet critical project milestones and deadlines.
  • Proficiency in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for rapid prototyping.
  • An understanding of the benefits, limitations and customization of a CSS framework (Foundation, Bootstrap, etc).
  • Up-to-date with the latest Web trends, techniques, and technologies.
  • Experience working in an Agile/Scrum development process.
  • Maintain an overall university brand across various mediums including digital signage.

How to apply

All applications must go through the university jobs website, please do not contact me directly. We encourage you to submit links to live websites, portfolios and to submit a cover letter that explains . why you feel you’re right for the position.

Senior Graphic Designer, posting #042093

Formy – Customize submission listing columns

We rolled out an update to Formy, the university’s form creator, that allows form owners to customize the submission listing columns.

Customizing the columns on the submissions list

Set the desired field order in the “Export” area:

export-options

Now “Submissions” will reflect the first three fields specified in the export:

submissions-new

Why this is important

Previously, the first three fields in the form will display on the submission listing page. Which resulted in “First name”, “Last name” and “Email” columns on the “Submissions” listing.

submissions-original

There are occasions that fields further down the form are more important at a glance when reviewing or labeling. This functionality allows the form owner to have more control over their form and submissions for each unique circumstance.

Hiring: Frontend Developer

An exciting opportunity for the university, the School of Medicine, the Web Department and (maybe) you! As the School of Medicine Web team expands we are in need of a full-time frontend developer.

Some background

Our department sits in the central Marketing office and is responsible for most all public facing websites on campus over the last eleven years. Our sites are built using an in-house content management system, and others, on the LAMP stack while using Foundation for Sites on the frontend. Most all School of Medicine websites are currently also built on these tools with the exception of the homepage, which is WordPress based.

School of Medicine

We care a lot about our tooling, processes and ensuring developer success. We adhere to code guidelines and always looking to standardize common code to allow us to focus on the unique areas that matter. This position is unique as the School of Medicine website is in transition. The website is newly launched in WordPress on Bootstrap with a number of legacy sites built without a frontend framework. The team is being integrated into the central web team and transitioning to standard university tools and frontend framework.

Primary responsibilities

  • Experience collaborating throughout the entire project cycle, from research, strategy, information architecture, visual design, front-end development and maintenance.
  • A solid grasp of modern front-end web development, such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript and their associated build components.
  • Experience using a front-end web framework such as Foundation or Bootstrap.
  • An understanding of back-end web development environments, including HTTP, web servers, load balancers, the interpretation layer, databases and associated web frameworks.
  • Considerable skill in writing web applications that retrieve and update information in relational web centric databases (using WordPress or Laravel).
  • The ability to clearly communicate to project stakeholders and process feedback internally and externally.
  • The ability to troubleshoot website layout and web application performance issues and resolve issues independently or direct issues to the responsible party.
  • Provide direct supervision to internal web site interns and guidance to unit web site content authors.
  • Ability to work with accuracy and attention to detail to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to understand and execute oral and written instructions, policies, and procedures.
  • Considerable project management skills, including ability to provide time estimates and prepare accurate records and reports.
  • Proficiency in the use of web applications programming languages, tools, and/or methodologies for developing integrated web applications typically acquired through formal education or equivalent experience in web application development.
  • Demonstrated ability in analyzing customer requirements and developing basic information systems solutions typically acquired through one to two years of directly related experience in web application development and support.
  • The ability to translate functional requirements into cross-browser WCAG 2.0 compliant websites.
  • Strong understanding of web technologies and related user device capabilities required to access the web.
  • Understanding of test driven development.

How to apply

Apply at jobs.wayne.edu. Posting #042095

YouTube embeds just got a little more clear

A few years ago we added the ability to embed a screenshot from a YouTube video through the CMS editor. This alleviated the need to take a screenshot, edit with software to add the play button, and then finally uploading it to the web server to embed it into a page or an email. With one click, pasting the url of the video a screenshot of the video can automatically be generated and embedded into a page.

But there was a problem

YouTube play buttonThe default YouTube play button at the time was a red rectangle which does call a lot of attention and allows users to immediately identify what will happen when they click the image. It became a problem over time as more of our videos (especially now that we can upload a custom still photo as the default screenshot) became people with a YouTube play button head:

Solution

New YouTube play buttonWe are happy to announce the play button graphic has been swapped out with a more transparent version that equally emphasizes the screenshot and the fact that the image will link to a YouTube video.

Now at a glance you can see the details in screenshot while still still understanding the link will bring the you to a YouTube video.

How to use the YouTube screenshot button in the CMS:

YouTube Preview

Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Detroit on Thursday, May 19, 2016

register-now

Back for the third year, Global Accessibility Awareness Day Detroit is a day for web professionals to gather together to learn about accessibility and how to make the web more accessible and usable by everyone. Events will be held around the world to raise awareness about web accessibility.

This year’s event is jointly hosted by Refresh Detroit and Metro Detroit WordPress.

Who is this event for?

If you’re working on the web, creating, developing, or designing websites or content for others to use, this event is for you! Or if you want to learn how we can work together to make the web accessible to everyone, we’d love for you to attend.

Learn to listen: Experience the Web from the perspective of a screen reader user

You work hard on your web content, the goal being for that content to reach as wide an audience as possible. To that end, you study all the accessibility-related guidelines and do your best to apply them to your work.

But what does it all really mean? How does someone who uses a screen reader experience your site? How will the next change you’re planning to make impact that experience?

In this hands-on session with Al Puzzuoli, you will learn to use a screen reader as a tool to answer the questions above.

  • First, you’ll learn the basics of controlling your computer and navigating the web, using only a screen reader and your keyboard.
  • Next, you will see examples of accessible sites that play nice with screen readers, and other inaccessible ones, which decidedly do not.
  • Finally, the fun begins, as it will be time to play! You will have the opportunity to go the the website of your choice, and use your newly honed skills to do some basic accessibility testing

Note for all attendees: If you have a Windows or Mac laptop, we encourage you to bring it so you can get hands-on with a screen reader. We’ll be working in small groups.

Windows users are recommended to download and install the free NVDA screen reader on the laptop before the event.

Al Puzzuoli

As the resident Information Technologist at Michigan State University’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, Al Puzzuoli spends his time doing network and server administration, troubleshooting computer concerns, and working with staff and students to test the accessibility of various information systems across campus.

When he is not working (or playing with computers), Al enjoys swimming, playing the trumpet, bowling, and spectator sports.

Agenda

6:30pm to 7:00pm: Welcome, refreshments, and networking
7:00pm to 7:10pm: Introductions
7:10pm to 8:20pm: Presentation and interactive workshop
8:20pm to 8:30pm: Announcements
8:30pm: Time to leave

Sponsorship Opportunities

By sponsoring our event, you’ll have access to an audience of web and business professionals throughout southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.

To thank you for your sponsorship, Refresh Detroit offers a number of benefits. Contact Deborah at deborah at lireo dot com for more information.

 

Excluding slick carousel using webpack, babel and the UglifyJsPlugin

While learning webpack and babel, our team had an issue with trying to run certain NPM packages through babel. Since we only want to pass ES2015 code through it, we need to exclude packages that don’t use it. To do that you can specify certain folders under node_modules to ignore in your webpack.config.js file like this:

What this will do is exclude slick-carousel from going through babel-loader, but it will still be part of the JS build and make it’s way down the pipe to the UglifyJsPlugin. Note: the exclude is not a string so it should not have quotes around it.

 

Side Note:

It’s possible to pass /node_modules/ and ignore all packages going through babel, but this wasn’t what we needed. Zurb Foundation 6.2 requires passing code through babel, so excluding all of node_modules wasn’t an option for us.