Happy New Year, CommonSpot contributors! We’ve had our holiday fun, and now it’s time to turn attention to 2012 projects. CommonSpot has several updates going on this year—new site design, new themes and a new version upgrade—
New Site Design Launch. On January 23, the header and footer of every ECU CommonSpot page will update to the new design. The page in between the header and footer—the sections we contributors maintain—will remain the same until updated by individual department contributors. There’s no set deadline for departments to convert their pages. However, once users see the new themes, they’ll probably start planning the project! Other goodies in store for website contributors are a wider page, from 770 pixels wide to 960 pixels wide, a darker paragraph font and restyled headings. Templates, pages and menus are still authored the same, but now there’s a new look with flexible styling.
New Themes Launch. These industry-standard, accessible, user-friendly themes are based on divs rather than tables. A “div” is just webspeak for “content container,” and brings our pages up to current standards. Both the wide template and themes will be available to contributors by January 23.
But enough of the background explanation—the REAL advantages to using the new themes include:
- Easy to use. Some versions only require your content while other “bare bones” versions allow Web designers to tinker.
- Wider format. New pages are 960 pixels wide so there’s more content near the top of the page. Users can scan your information faster with less vertical scrolling.
- Flexible Changes. Once old pages are transitioned to the new format, change the look of a page at any time by choosing a different theme. No cut and paste, just pick a new theme from the drop-down list to update a page’s style. “Preview” allows a peek before making the look permanent. You can even use a different theme for pages based on the same template.
So, where do you start? Don’t worry, we’ve got several resources in store for users. First, register for one of the hands-on demos in Austin 309 (training.ecu.edu). We’ll also be posting to the CommonSpot Users Yammer group (yammer.ecu.edu)—feel free to post your own experiences and questions as well. Instructions will be posted in the CommonSpot blog (blog.ecu.edu/sites/commonspot) along with blow-by-blow posts describing my experiences updating the ITCS website. A “playground” is also being created where users log in from home or office to create demo pages using the new templates and themes (a separate post will introduce this site in the coming days).
CommonSpot Upgrade. During the summer of 2012, we’ll turn our attention to the CommonSpot version upgrade. The latest version boasts a brand new interface and updated administrative tools for contributors.
So, even though there are some big changes coming our way, they’re so cool and easy to do that this may be one of the most painless projects you’ve ever undertaken.