Tag Archives: workshop

Stuff what we’re doing at Edge Hill University

IWMWA few months ago, the call for submissions for IWMW went out and at the last minute I sent off my idea for a parallel workshop session, “Stuff what we’re doing at Edge Hill University”. I must admit I didn’t really have much idea at the time what I thought I’d talk about other than looking at a few of the sites we’ve developed over the last year and shamelessly use it as a way of finding out what other people are doing in those areas.

I covered applicant communications with Hi, the GO portal and ranted a little about the adoption or otherwise of Content Management Systems. I had about 20 participants in the session and I’m pretty happy with how it went. It was particularly interesting to hear about some of the different ways that Universities are doing applicant communications – information was coming from a range of sources and it’s being integrated into sites in a variety of ways.

My slides are online on SlideShare and embedded below. The last part of the presentation “10ish five-minute ways to improve your website” was repeated for my BarCamp session but I’ll cover that in another post.

Update: a few people have mentioned my session:

  • Matthew Bull: “They seem to be doing a lot of good healthy web 2.0 stuff there, and seem to have been given a lot of freedom in what they do.”
  • Jeremy Speller: “An interactive session – it’s buzzword bingo!!” – my slides are effectively just headings so Jeremy’s notes may fill in some of the gaps for you!

Accessibility and Usability & Your Websiteil

Getting up at 05:00 is not my idea of fun. Nor is driving to Newcastle, and getting lost before attending a workshop on; Accessibility and Usability & Your Website, organised by Netskills.

Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product (e.g., device, service, environment) is accessible by as many people as possible.

My own accessibility skills are self-taught and I’ve always found the internet provides plenty of articles for web developers of all levels. During the obligatory intros, I cited my aims of the course as “..filling in any gaps in my knowledge”. As it turned out, there weren’t many gaps and in some areas, my knowledge exceeded the course content.

My gaps where more in my thinking and approach rather than in how to write accessible code. Some of the hands-on sessions on the webaim site give a feel for problems some visitors have using the web. Try the these simulations for yourself;

WCAG 1.0 was published in 1999, Accessibility badgesand although many found implementation of the guidelines difficult, but despite that they’re still around today. Of the 14 guidelines only 3 relate to usability. The first 10 focus on markup, and this really forms the cornerstone to accessible websites. The hands-on exercise to use the guidelines to evaluate a site demonstrated how difficult they are to use and why they have spawned so many third party tools (wave, Bobby [defunct], vischeck fae) to attempt to automate conformance, often with badges so frequently seen on government sites.

WCAG 2.0 is long overdue, started in 2001 it has had its critics. Many feel that its simply too complicated to make any site accessible. Personally speaking, I’ve never read either of the guidelines through, completely. You try it, its like pulling teeth. I tend to refer to it when I feel I need to.

The day was enjoyable, but the course felt a little stale, and that might be down to a long wait for WCAG 2.0. In addition, working with AJAX and Web 2.0, opens up more questions regarding accessibility and usability, which are being talked about and written about, but which the course didn’t cover. I’ve fed all of this back so if you go to one in the future, let me know if its been included.