August 2018 – CMS update

This month we are focusing the CMS update on self-paced CMS training.

Canvas course

We are excited to announce we have a new option for CMS training available on the university’s learning management system, Canvas.

The training can now be found in the “All courses” area of Canvas and is open to anyone with an active AccessID.

Browse for the “Web Communications” course.

Canvas course screenshot

The training will evolve over time

This is only the first step in the online CMS training platform. We will over time be adding more areas for accessibility, emails, events, forms, images, etc.

If there is an area that you feel would benefit from online training, please email

In-person training is still available

In-person training is still available by signing up at: We try to offer group training every few months especially as new units start interacting with the CMS or other university tools for the first time.


Next Web workers meeting – Feb. 6, 2015

RAVPDo you manage a school/college/departmental website that represents the university? This meeting is for you.

Come share your successes, failures, questions, and lessons learned with other Web workers from around campus.

This meeting’s agenda includes:

  • Elliot Polak talking about the recently redesigned Library System website and how their team has worked to improve the site since the initial redesign in August.
  • Nick DeNardis talking about front-end workflow and speed optimizations.
  • Round table

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to share their experiences.

Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m. in the Simon’s Room, 144 Purdy Library

RSVP is not required but suggested.

[Video] Web Workshop: Intro. to Google Analytics

Last week I presented a workshop on Google Analytics. Since many schools/colleges/departments use the tool to track Web visitors, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get them in a room to explain the features/power of the system.

The workshop covered the following topics:

  • Setting it up on a site/multiple sites
  • Account/Property/View management
  • Intelligence Events
  • Real time
  • Audience overview/behavior
  • Technology/browser/mobile
  • Acquisition/referrers/search/campaigns/social
  • Behavior/visitor flow/site speed
  • Events/tracking/formy
  • Goals

Since a handful of people could not make the workshop, I recorded it. The audio is not ideal, but it will do.

Next workshop:

The August workshop will be on social media content strategy. The date/time is still being determined, but it will be posted here when it is confirmed.

Four keys to effectively communicate your site’s problems

My name is Rommel and I am relatively new to the Web Communications team. If there is anything that I have learned in my first few months in Web Communications is that they have their own lingo – I dubbed it “WebSpeak.”

I guess that every work environment has its own shoptalk that only those that have been around a while can comprehend. I’ve witnessed WebSpeak first-hand while working in Web Communications. At first I was overwhelmed with learning the lingo, however, I realized that all shoptalk is universal; you just have to find a way to incorporate your perspective. Once you get your bearings, you’ll find that WebSpeak is easy to learn.

I also realized that learning the lingo is only half the communication. Some of the requests that come in to our inbox contain only bits of information. There is enough to figure out what the request is, but finding “where” on the site takes a bit of  detective work. Of course, there are some clients that are more versed with WebSpeak and their requests are easier to locate and identify. But for others, I’ve compiled a list of recommendations that, hopefully, helps them communicate the needs of their website.

Key 1: Provide the URL

The first key is very easy. If your site is having trouble, copy the URL (Web address) of the page with the error/issue and include that in your message to If it’s a specific link in a page, please provide that as well. The more information you provide about which Web page you found the issue, the easier it will be for us to identify and fix the problem.

Key 2: Provide a deadline

Provide a deadline. Clearly suggesting your expectations on when you want the task to be completed can help us immensely. Depending on the amount of work we currently have, we can provide feedback if the project will take longer than your expected deadline.

Key 3: Allow for time

Please allow for time. There are always tasks in our work queue and some may take longer than expected and it pushes the rest of the queue back with each delay. So please bear with us.

Key 4: Learn the lingo

  • Website – An allocated space in the Internet that has its own domain name.
  • Sub-site – A separate site but still within the domain of a website. Larger sites can use this to separate different areas of their site.
  • Web page – A document displayed in an Internet browser window in HTML format, a computing language. This single page constitutes one Web page.
  • Homepage – The main page of a site or a subsite (the “index” page). I think of these as the lobbies.
  • Child page  – A child page is a Web page that is subordinate to another page, usually a home page.
  • Menu items – These are the navigation items to your site which link the homepage to the child pages. The menu remains, most of the time, static, within a site.
  • Sub-menu items – A menu item within a menu item.
  • Template – A template is ‘what separates the content from presentation in a Web design’ (thank you Wikipedia). If content were the entree, then the template would be the plate.
  • Content – These are the images, words, events, links, etc. of a Web page. I compare this to the “meat” of the site.
  • CMS – The Content Management System is an interface used by Wayne State University for clients to manage the content of their website. Clients provided with site access can log in using their WSU AccessID and password.
  • Copy – These are all the words within a Web page. You can usually select these words and they are editable through the CMS.
  • Image – Any non-text element within a Web page. These could be GIFs, JPEGs, JPGs, etc. (all image file formats).
  • PDF – These files are like snapshots of documents; some are editable and some are not while some can be created with fillable areas. This file format is widely used and not specific to an operating system.
  • Link – Also known as hyperlinks, links act as portals from one Web page/website to another. These are used to navigate Web pages/websites.
  • Text Link – Text links, also called “anchors,” are links within a page. These can be used to navigate a large amount of text within a page
  • Promotional Areas – Think of these as spaces or items within your website (usually the homepage) that can showcase things/events that you want to promote. These are always designed by a graphic designer and are programmed into the site’s main template. There are different forms of promo areas but as I will be using as an example:
    • Main Promo – These are the big images that are usually on the homepage and take up a lot of space.
    • Promo Boxes – Standard, square-shaped boxes with rotating images, usually used to showcase featured events.
    • Promo Buttons – These are unique static images that stay on a page that link to an promotional event/form/site. On, these would be the Apply buttons below the menu.
    • Promo Item – A singular promotional item/image.

I admit, it is not a comprehensive list but rest assured that I will keep adding things each time I learn a new phrase or word.

I hope this helps people get more acquainted with WebSpeak!


Help bring a two-day responsive Web design workshop to Detroit!

Build Responsively

Responsive Web Design

“Responsive design” is a subset of a larger concept which is called “Adaptive design”. When talking about responsive we refer to the layout only (Ethan Marcotte, fluid grids, flexible images & media queries). (source)

What is @brworkshop?

Build responsively is a moving workshop that focuses on Responsive Web Design. The talks start with the basics and go on to the advanced. A wrap up of the Cincinnati is online with the presenter slides if you’re interested.

This is a great opportunity to show the impact of the Web community in Detroit. Our city is going up against Pittsburgh, Chicago, Nashville, and others. Take just one minute to show your love and support for Detroit and RWD.

All it takes is a click and a tweet.

2010 Conferences – Professional Development & Speaking

Inspired by Erick over at the Texas A&M Webmasters Blog I wanted to outline the conferences and speaking venues for the Web Communications staff. Each year we all try to attend at least one conference to advance our skills, network, and, best of all, spread our knowledge.

This year Rob, Tom, Joy, and Rolaine will be attending An Event Apart in Boston May 23-25. It seems like a lot of us but the conference is so comprehensive it covers design and development very well. Rob and I had the chance to attend An Event Apart a few years ago and we still find ourselves implementing things we learned from the conference.

I will be attending EduWeb in Chicago July 26-28. This will be my first time at EduWeb and I am super excited. I’ve heard many great things about it from previous attendees. And of course I am excited to see the eduStyle Awards live.

I will be at HighEdWeb in Cincinnati October 10-13. HighEdWeb is by far my favorite higher education conference. I had the pleasure of speaking at it last year and waiting to hear back about a proposal myself and a few other web workers submitted for this year.

I will also will be leading a half-day workshop at the EdUI conference in Charlottesville, Virginia November 8-9 on how to use advanced website analytics to optimize your designs. It’s going to be a lot of fun, I will walk everyone through Google Analytics then setup some A/B and multivariate tests.

That is it for now but there may be more that come up throughout the year. If you’re not in the Detroit area and want to meet us these are great opportunities to come hang out, give us your opinion and learn. If you can’t make it out we try to do a wrap up post after each conference or meetup we attend to spread what we have learned. Hope to see you soon!