Friday, June 13, 2008

2008 so far

Well its been interesting year so far. Here's some of what I've been up to.

I've been working on a new design for the North Coast TAFE web site and I've just completed a first round of usability testing. Got some great feedback for improvements. Still logging some of the output from Morae. I provided $30 Sanity cards for 11 participants who included students, international students, staff, teachers. I still need to finish compiling the report. I'm very happy with the results and looking forward to the next testing cycle once I've implemented the recommendations.

I went to CeBIT Sydney e-Marketing conference and workshops a couple of weeks ago. I learned more about leveraging the mix of pull marketing and Web 2.0 technologies in order to continue to grow our audience and monitor trends. It seems you can't just kick back on your CSS, sitemaps and SEO to drive traffic anymore. There is now a lot more work to do but at least some of it will be fun in creating news feeds, Pod/Vod casts, blogs and forums.

I was in a "Alert the Media" workshop yesterday to learn and practice how to work with local news outlets, write News/Media releases for them and conduct radio, phone and TV interviews.

It looks like TAFE NSW, our state based parent organisation, is going to allow us to pull data from the course book on the web to mashup with our own course info as a web service to make it easier for our customers to locate relevant accurate course information on our website. Only something we've been trying to do for 5 years. Our Manager, Applications Development and I are on the technical reference group to ensure we get the type of service we require.

The next step will be to make sure that the online enrolment process can be tied into our business workflow so we can gage ROI on our marketing campaigns etc.

Also in the last 3 months I've sea kayaked around the Freycinet Peninsular for three days, done a 4 day hike into Frenchman's Cap in the Tasmanian wilderness in march/April. Competed in the AROC Adventure Race at Lake Macquarie in April and had some great surfs in the last three-four weeks.

I bought a new Maton EM325C guiatr. My band is getting better. We've been rehearsing almost fortnightly. I need to practice more during the week on guitar theory, scales and licks but its all coming along nicely.

It's been a great year so far!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

eLearning, Staff Development and Contribute

I've got an interesting eLearning project coming up. In my job as Web Content Coordinator I need to support about 40-60 contributors to our Internet and Intranet websites. It is challenging as contributors come from a range of backgrounds. Some technically savvy with the web, others who have difficulty deciding on a file name in MS Word and where to save it. I love a challenge.

Over the last five years I've had to train and support these contributors (content editors and managers) using Contribute software (formerly Macromedia and now part of the Adobe CS3 suite) for lack of resources to utilise a more sophisticated CMS. It seems that our business requirements a broad and varied and difficult to locate and off the shelf product that can satisfy our requirements withing our resource constraints. So, we use Contribute which is economical at under $100 a license, but limited in its work flow, auditing and publishing process management.

Anyway, coming up in late February and early March I will be running beginner and intermediate training sessions in using Contribute to maintain our websites. What will make this interesting is we will be using a product called Bridgit to web conference the session between our different sites. Previously I would travel around our 17 campuses and run group sessions in our IT labs during non teaching weeks. The last few sessions I've dabbled with Bridgit, which was a new technology for us about 18 months ago. Now that many of our staff have had training and some experience with Bridgit I'm hoping these sessions will progress a little easier than those earlier ones. It worked out taking 1/2 and hour to and hour to get all participants up and running with Bridgit before we even touched on Contribute eating significantly into our 2-3 hour s session. It is certainly different from the classroom.

Hopefully this will be a much better experience.

In order to support contributors I also try to provide additional information on our Intranet site that they can access to help trouble shoot or learn new skills. I've used a combination of web pages, images and even a few flash movies created in Captivate. It takes a lot of effort to develop these materials and take some additional effort should a procedure change or an upgrade to the Contribute software occur. We started with version 2, with a test and production server setup and all edits etc sent to me for approval. Now we're migrating to version 4, or CS3, and mostly working directly on the production server with selected contributors with publishing right that other contributors need to send their changes to for approval and publishing. My process and procedure documentation needs updating to reflect this which I will endeavor to do before the training sessions to help save confusion for the newbies.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A New Direction

I've decided to take a new direction.

I've been a bit jaded with blogs, forums and chat rooms. Are they really necessary?

I would like this opportunity to create something that I can truly be proud of professionally. Something I can include in my CV. I mean, what if the good people at the Googleplex are reading watching?

Ok, I admit it, there are a few benefits of bloging and forums. I like the fact that if you are having difficulty with getting your head around a technical issue, which happens a lot in this profession, that there is a good chance that someone else has found themselves in the same boat, created a solution or work around and posted it online. If not, I can at least post a question so that some wise, learned, guru person can assist me find a solution. If not at least I can get the satisfaction that others out there feel my pain too.

So yeah, while there are quite a few things that still get under my skin around the world, I will attempt to keep the content professionally focused. Topics will include areas of my specialty like User Experience, User Centered Design, Human Computer Interaction, GUI, Usability, Accessibility, Web Design, CSS, XHTML, XML, XSLT, JavaScript, Google Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) etc. An occasional post about adventure sport or something like that might slip though but NO POLITICS I promise.

Hopefully it may be of use to someone ;-)