Creative Commons image resources

512px-CC-logo
When searching for royalty-free images for your website, a good place to start is to look for images with a Creative Commons license.

Types of Creative Commons licenses

There are a number of different types of Creative Commons licenses. The type of license assigned to an image identifies how that image can be used — e.g. can the image be used commercially? can it be edited?

It’s best to check the type of Creative Commons license carefully to be sure you’ll be able to meet the requirements outlined by the image’s creator. The least restrictive license is a CC0 license. Images with a CC0 license are in the public domain and are freely available for use without restrictions.

Where to find creative commons images

Here are a few of our favourite sites for searching for Creative Commons images:

Many Creative Commons image resources contain McGill-themed images that you can view by searching “McGill”. Other terms we often search include, “Montreal” and “students”.  Here’s a good example of the latter from Unsplash, which happens to be of McGill:

mwxh320tzca-stephen-di-donato

Other options for sourcing royalty-free images for WMS sites

  • McGill Newsroom, Request a photo
  • If you have a photography budget, you might also consider hiring a freelance photographer to take custom images for your site.

Do you have a favourite site for searching Creative Commons images? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

Iteration 86

Iteration 86 will run from Jan 24th until Feb 10th. Work undertaken includes:

Highlights include:

  • Planning updating WordPress
  • Maintenance

summary

status

type

priority

milestone

pts

Configure new drupalnodes

backlog

bug

highest

Infra Evergreening 7.1

1

Engineering: Focus group testing [feb 3rd]

backlog

support task

highest

Site Management 7.1

1

eCal: Create new /study/2017-2018 site (Due: Feb 15)

backlog

support task

highest

E-calendar 7.3

1

Update workbench_moderation module

backlog

security update

highest

Infrastructure 7.1

2

Update entity module

backlog

support task

highest

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Delete D6 /study/2015-2016 (February 1)

backlog

support task

highest

E-calendar 7.3

0.5

eCal: Error importing Summer Studies  to staging

backlog

bug

highest

E-calendar 7.3

3

Update twitter module

backlog

security update

high

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Create new QA Server

backlog

support task

high

Infra Evergreening 7.1

5

Move translations folder to NAS drive

backlog

bug

high

Infrastructure 7.1

2

Migrate Trac to live Jira

backlog

bug

high

Jira

5

Update field_permissions module

assigned

support task

high

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Update securelogin module

backlog

support task

high

Infrastructure 7.1

1

[Spike] Why has McGill University ‘disappeared’ from Google’s search for Canadian universities?

closed

support task

high

SEO 7.0

1

Define new components for jira projects

closed

support task

high

Jira

RSS Title plugin does not work with latest wordpress

backlog

bug

high

WordPress 3.0

2

JQuery DRop Down Menus plugin does not work with latest wordpress

backlog

bug

high

WordPress 3.0

1

Fix errors/warnings in wordpress themes

backlog

bug

high

WordPress 3.0

2

[Spike] Fix or replace qtranslate plugin for latest wordpress

backlog

bug

high

WordPress 3.0

2

OSS site review: Phase 1 revisions

backlog

support task

high

Site Management 7.1

3

Secretariat Site Review

backlog

support task

high

Site Management 7.1

2

Principal’s site: Phase 1 updates

backlog

support task

high

Site Management 7.1

2

UG Skills: Phase 1 updates

backlog

support task

high

Site Management 7.1

1

Update breakpoints module

backlog

support task

medium

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Update facetapi module

backlog

support task

medium

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Update link module

backlog

support task

medium

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Update modernizr module

backlog

support task

medium

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Code review on /giving

closed

support task

medium

3rd Party Integration 7.1

1

Test comment rating plugin with latest wordpress

backlog

bug

medium

WordPress 3.0

2

[Spike] Alternatives to Social Media Timeline module

backlog

enhancement/new feature

medium

3rd Party Integration 7.1

2

Investigate cache clear time

backlog

bug

medium

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Re-enable Search 404 search result functionality

backlog

support task

medium

Search 7.2

1

Update environment_indicator module

backlog

support task

low

Infrastructure 7.1

1

Site review feedback

backlog

support task

low

Site Management 7.1

1

 

Iteration 85 : Review

If you didn’t have a chance to make the latest review meeting discussing our current initiatives. Here are meeting presentation notes.

Thanks to all that came and contributed to the ongoing discussion how we can make McGill.ca great.

Articles are now beta than evah

The new Article content type is in production and is now available exclusively for Beta Testers to use.

Articles can be used to quickly create attractive, well-focused content like news stories, magazine-style articles or blog-like entries that do not necessarily need to be placed in the menu system.

Unlike Basic Pages, Articles do not have revisions but can still be placed in either Draft or Needs Review state before being Published.

screenshot_article

Other interesting features include:

  • a Featured Image which can appear across the page
  • a Dek or quick summary which appears beneath the title
  • an Original Author field which allows the source to be credited
  • the first letter of the first paragraph appearing as a Dropped Cap
  • Tags which allow Articles to be categorized using taxonomy

To create an article, simply go to Add Content > Article on your Admin menu (/node/add/article)


Articles Block

An Articles block is also available in case you need to provide a blog roll type display to site visitors.

Up to five articles can be displayed in teaser format, which includes:

  • a Title as link text
  • a Short excerpt (the first paragraph or 195 characters, or whichever is shorter)
  • a Read more link

screenshot_articles-block

By default, the Article block will not be visible to visitors unless it has been placed in a region and/or page(s).

  • Go to Structure > Blocks (/admin/structure/block) 
  • Under the Disabled section, you should find a block called Articles
  • Change the Region or click configure to place the block in specific pages
  • Save the block(s)

Learn more:

Featured website: Office of the Vice-Principal, Administration and Finance

Since the release of the new template blocks, a number of McGill sites have undergone a layout refresh resulting in improved scannability and visual impact. We picked the latest website to get a facelift, the Office of the Vice-Principal, Administration and Finance, to be January’s website of the month.

Home page: After

VP Admin home page, new

The site had recently undergone an extensive audit where content had been checked for validity and relevancy, but the look and feel of the site had been left largely untouched. This produced a somewhat sparse looking website with a loosely organized site structure and minimal design elements.

The Web Service Group worked with the Office of the Vice-Principal, Administration and Finance to identify template blocks and other layout tools that could be used to refresh the site and present its content in a more engaging, better organized manner.

Home page: Before

VP Admin home page, old

 Site improvements include:

  • A new menu structure that better reflects user requirements
  • The addition of images that better represent the role of the Office of the Vice-Principal, Administration and Finance and its responsibilities
  • An engaging new layout that makes it easier for site visitors to identify services offered by the Office of the Vice-Principal, Administration and Finance
  • A pared down site structure with fewer pages — content has been organized into categorized landing pages instead of individual pages with little information

Do you have plans to refresh your WMS site layout with the new template blocks and layout tools? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

And don’t forget to check back next month for our February website of the month!

Links of interest

A New Year’s resolution you can stick to? Site content auditing!

Ready or not, it’s a new year and that means new resolutions to get fit, get organized, and get healthy! That goes for websites too. Making sure that your website’s content is robust and in good shape will drive the right kind of traffic to your site. What better way to start the year fresh than by cleaning out old cruft and giving your website a tune-up. A content audit will do just that. It’s an achievable goal that every Site Manager should put on their list of resolutions.

What is a content audit?

So an “audit” may not exactly be everybody’s definition of fun — but neither are those last few minutes on the treadmill. In the simplest terms, auditing your website means carefully reviewing all the content on your site. You’ll be looking at things such as errors, outdated information, keywords, and other stuff, depending on how comprehensive you want your audit to be. Your audit will give you a picture of what works well, what doesn’t, and what you should change.

Why do a content audit?

As with any exercise, you do it because there are benefits. Once you start making gains, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start auditing sooner!

But seriously, content is at the core of your site. Content is almost everything that visitors see and the reason for coming to your site, so it’s important that you do an audit to ensure that you have a strong foundation.

Boost your search rankings and traffic

Make sure that the people you want to reach are making their way to your website. To do this, your site needs to contain high quality content. This means that the content is consistently relevant, up-to-date, informative, accurate, and interesting. Search engine spiders love high quality sites and will gobble them up — like the desserts you’ve sadly sworn off.

Improve the quality of your content

An audit will allow you to identify areas of weakness on your site. These are pages with outdated information, repetition, duplication, broken links, typos, grammar mistakes, poorly written content, ineffective keywords, or pages that are just plain useless. By identifying the problematic pages, you can then decide whether to fix them, keep them as is, merge them, or get rid of them. Doing this brings more value to your site for the people you’re aiming your content at. It can also make your content more “evergreen” and long-lasting. In other words, content that continues to stay as relevant as the day it was published will continue to drive traffic to your site.

Gain an overall understanding of your site

In the course of your audit, the connections between your content will become clearer. Removing unnecessary content and finding holes that need to be filled will streamline your site and make it leaner and more focused. All the improvements that you make will make it easier for your target audience to find the information that they came for.

Make better strategic decisions for your site

With a better understanding of your site, you’ll be able to make better informed decisions about your site structure, the organization of keywords, and the creation and maintenance of sustainable content.

When should you do a content audit?

The beginning or the end of the year is suggested as a good time to embark on an audit just because symbolically, it’s a time for renewal — but the best time is the one that works for you. Knowing when your peak periods occur during the year, make an effort to put aside time for content auditing within the pockets of “downtime.” Like any exercise regimen, you should be auditing your site’s content regularly. But let’s get real. Sometimes, you’re going to slack off and that’s OK. Auditing should be considered a work in progress and an ongoing task. As long as you keep at it over time, your site should get into better shape. Try to schedule one to two hours at regular intervals to work on auditing.  That’s easier than resolving to exercise every single day!

Who should do a content audit?

If you’re able to navigate your site as a Site Manager, you already have enough technical skills to carry out a content audit. And since misery loves company (just kidding!), you can make auditing a group exercise with the participation of other Site Managers, Site Editors, and individuals who are subject matter experts with in-depth knowledge about the content.

Where should you start a content audit?

Baby steps! Site managers are busy people so a good place to start your audit is on your most visited pages. This will allow you to identify the changes that you need to make ASAP. To determine which pages these are, use Google Analytics. To get a Google Analytics report for your site, contact the friendly folks at Web Communications and they’ll hook you up. Based on the metrics, you can prioritize which pages to tackle first. Look at which pages are most highly ranked and also those that aren’t but should be. What are the problem areas on these pages that need to be addressed? Start with these and then keep expanding your reach. Even if you only address the top 10 most popular pages on your site, you should see an improvement to your search rankings and traffic.

How do you do a content audit?

Meet your friend the spreadsheet.

A basic spreadsheet is all you really need to systematically enter details and keep track of what’s been done. You can keep adding to the spreadsheet as you audit more and more of your site. If it’s a group effort, collaborate with your colleagues by saving the file to a cloud drive so that everyone can contribute to it.

Use column headings for the type of information that you’ll be reviewing as part of your audit. There are no set rules for what you need to capture. It depends on how comprehensive you want your audit to be and whether the information is likely to be useful or not.

The following columns are most commonly used:

Date Audited

Keep a history of when each page was audited. When you revisit the spreadsheet in future, you’ll know which pages are due for another audit and which you can skip — yay!

URL

Keep a record of which pages you have audited. Prioritize these based on your analytics metrics. You can also use My Workbench or the information from the Dashboard to identify which content types and pages you want to audit.

Review the URL itself. It should be descriptive text that gives site visitors a good idea of what to expect on the page. If it’s a bunch of nonsense or node numbers, consider changing it to a custom alias; this is easy to do in the WMS thanks to the built-in auto-redirects whenever you make a change to a URL on your site.

Page Title

A rule of thumb is that an effective page title should accurately describe what the page is about in less than 65 characters. It should also be unique on the site and include some keywords.

Menu Title

If the menu title is different from the page title — likely much shorter — it too, should briefly reflect what the page is about, including a keyword if appropriate.

Content

Time to get down and dirty!

Read through the page carefully. Is it interesting? Are the facts correct? Is it providing useful information? Are there any spelling or grammar mistakes? Is the text well-written? Is it relevant? Record these notes in your spreadsheet including any changes that are needed!

Keywords

List any keywords being used on the page. Targeted keywords should occur naturally within the text. Aim for a good balance — not too many, not too few. Do any keywords need to be added or removed?  Check that they’re spelled correctly. Are they also included as tags on the page? Remember that you can easily manage taxonomy in the WMS.

Alt Tags

Review each image on the page. Are all images properly tagged with a descriptive alt tag? This is really important for visitors who use screen readers and will give you brownie points with search engines — even if your new diet doesn’t include brownies.

Headings

Review H2 headings especially since they’re the main subheadings that visitors will see on the page. Check if the heading is appropriate for the section of content that it describes. Does it contain any keywords? Would it be relevant as a snippet if it were a search result?

Links

Each page should contain at least two or three internal links. These can be anchor links to specific sections within the same page or links to other pages on the site. Avoid links that point to shallow pages that don’t contain much in-depth information such as the Contact, Home, or About pages. Aim for links that point to deeper, content-heavy, information-rich pages on the site. This gives visitors and search engines a farther reach into your site. Use the Link Checker in the WMS to identify broken links!

Last Update

Now we’re talking!

Your goal is to make sure that your content stays current and relevant. Each page on your site should be reviewed or updated every two years at the very least. The Moderate tab on most pages in the WMS will indicate when it was last updated. If the content has grown stale, it should be revised. Meanwhile, obsolete pages that don’t provide any useful content anymore or that don’t get any visitors should be eliminated. That’s right, toss those cookies out!

Files

Check the attached files on each page. Are they still valid? Should they be removed or updated?

Owner

Who are the de facto owners or subject matter experts (SMEs) with the most knowledge about the information on the page? Contact them to review and update the content.

Content Type

There are multiple types of content in the WMS so you may want to structure your audit by focusing on a certain content type at a time, e.g., basic pages, profiles, webforms, etc. Filter by content type on My Workbench to locate the pages you want to include in your audit.

Comments

Include a column for any miscellaneous notes that you want to record during the audit. For instance, you might want to leave a note about fixing a specific item on the page. If you’re not sure whether you should include certain elements in your audit, record the details here for a few pages until you get an idea of whether or not it would be worthwhile to introduce a new column to the spreadsheet. Or just use the comments column to leave positive affirmations to yourself. You can do it!

Ready, set, go!

Hopefully, you now have an idea of what a site content audit entails. Remember, every marathon begins with the first step. Pledge to keep up with auditing your content on a regular basis and you’ll be rewarded with pay-offs in the form of happy site visitors and higher search rankings. This is a New Year’s resolution worth keeping!

References*:

*These links include valuable tips, but we present them, and the tools they reference, without any particular endorsement.

 

 

 

Engineering a better website for the Faculty of Engineering

Usability testing booth Faculty of Engineering

What do coffee, the Schulich Library and McGill’s Web Management System (WMS) have in common? If you stopped by the Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering during the December exam period, you might say plenty!

We spent the morning of December 8 with the Faculty of Engineering’s site manager in the building lobby outside the Schulich Library conducting usability testing on Engineering’s website. Student participants were coaxed to take part in the short test with complimentary coffee from the popular Dispatch Café. Volunteers were asked to perform a variety of tasks on the site.

This is one of a number of initiatives currently being undertaken to assess the site in preparation for revisions planned for 2017. Stay tuned to the Beta Blog for updates as the project unfolds!

Usability testing in progress

Related links:

Iteration 85

Iteration 85 will run from Jan 5th until Jan 23rd. Work undertaken includes:

Highlights include:

  • Updating WordPress
  • (BETA) Article content in the WMS

summary

type

priority

milestone

Pts

status

Configure new drupalnodes

bug

highest

Infra Evergreening 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

Set up Jira project with ISR

bug

highest

Jira

1

assigned

Fix column template styles so they align properly

bug

high

Site Management 7.1

5

assigned

php7 prevents feed importers from running

bug

high

Infra Evergreening 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

[Spike part 1] Channels Event Search: Prototype

enhancement/new feature

high

Events display 7.1

3

iteration_backlog

Upgrade wordpress blogs

support task

high

WordPress 3.0

5

assigned

Site review of /principal

support task

high

Site Management 7.1

2

iteration_backlog

Related Content: Write unit tests

testing

high

WMS Blogging 7.0

3

new

Old building pages appearing in Google Search results

support task

high

Search 7.2

3

iteration_backlog

Refactor template.php moriarty_menus

support task

high

3

assigned

Auto-redirects failing

bug

medium

Site Management 7.1

3

iteration_backlog

Check menu logic in moriarty for php7 issue

bug

medium

Infra Evergreening 7.1

1

closed

Browser getting fonts incorrectly

bug

medium

Theme 7.1

3

iteration_backlog

[Jira] svn/git post-commit hooks

support task

medium

Jira

2

iteration_backlog

Engineering: Web revisions, phase 2

support task

medium

Site Management 7.1

3

iteration_backlog

Allow site managers to delete blocks

support task

medium

Blocks & Slideshows 7.2

2

iteration_backlog

Blog post: Usability testing with Engineering

support task

medium

Documentation

1

closed

Communications planning

support task

medium

Documentation

2

iteration_backlog

Blog Post: Auditing website content

support task

medium

Documentation

3

iteration_backlog

Prep for Comms Huddle presentation

support task

medium

Site Management 7.1

3

iteration_backlog

Blog post: Website of the month, January 2017

support task

medium

Documentation

1

iteration_backlog

McGill social media channels in Google search results for McGill

support task

medium

SEO 7.0

2

assigned

Blog post: Image resources

support task

medium

Documentation

1

iteration_backlog

Extract_node_image

enhancement/new feature

medium

WMS Blogging 7.0

1

iteration_backlog

eCal: Migrate /study/2015-2016 to D7

support task

medium

E-calendar 7.3

1

assigned

Decomission McIntyre CSST Monthly Safety Inspection Form

support task

low

Site Management 7.1

0.5

iteration_backlog

Activate text wrap in WYSIWYG source view

enhancement/new feature

low

WYSIWYG Feature

1

iteration_backlog

Update i18n module

bug

low

Infrastructure 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

OSS Site Review

support task

low

Site Management 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

Update search404 module

support task

low

Infrastructure 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

Update search_api module

support task

low

Infrastructure 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

Update search_api_page module

support task

low

Infrastructure 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

Update search_api_solr module

support task

low

Infrastructure 7.1

1

iteration_backlog

 

 

Top 10 WMS updates released in 2016

2016 was a big year for WMS improvements! By the close of the year, WMS sites sported a notably different look and feel. Additionally, new tools such as McGill Profiles, and the new template blocks introduced enhanced functionality improving McGill’s web experience for both visitors, and web managers and editors alike.

Check out our picks for the top 10 WMS updates released in 2016 and weigh in on your favourite updates in the comments below.

  1. New site header, December 2016

    The revamped WMS header, released at the tail end of  2016, will pave the way for some exciting new template enhancements, including wider web pages.Header example

  2. Revised vertical menu, August 2016

    The vertical menus refresh features a cleaner, lighter and easier-to-navigate design.New vertical menu

  3. McGill Profiles, July 2016

    Launched in early spring 2016, McGill Profiles makes it easy for site managers to present attractively formatted, easy-to-navigate biographical information to site  visitors.McGill Profiles

  4. Technical milestones, 2016

    Throughout the year, a number of behind-the-scenes upgrades resulted in improved performance in the WMS. Though you probably didn’t hear a lot about these updates you’ve likely benefited from the results, which include reduced issues during times of heavy traffic, and a smoother more seamless browser experience for site visitors. Notable milestones (provided by our development team) include:

    1. Getting cron to run across all sites in under 15 minutes
    2. Automating configuration management with Ansible
    3. Defining and starting to implement the new server infrastructure
    4. Improved channels distributing — scheduled publishing is triggered to happen more often
  5. Call-to-action block, September 2016

    Call-to-action blocks automatically format content in an attractive, consistent  manner that makes it easy for your site visitors to identify how to take the next step.

    Call to action block examples

  6. Twitter block, September 2016
  7. List block, September 2016
  8. Sticky at the top of lists, April 2016
  9. Sortable tables, March 2016
  10. Auto-redirects, August 2016

Honourable mentions

2017 promises to be an equally momentous year for the WMS. A number of new enhancements are already in development, including a calendar/events search tool, a relevant content block and an all-new site dashboard. Stay tuned for updates.

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.