Category Archives: Web Development

Fall Tech Day will be held October 22, 2015

Tech DayThe Department of Information Technology is hosting a Fall Tech Day on: Thursday, October 22, 12:00 – 2:00 pm Kresge Atrium.

We’ll be showing off the latest tech from tablets to video conferencing, and raffling away an Apple Watch and other cool prizes. Stop by during lunch and meet the team!


  • Dell — Representatives from Dell will have the latest laptop, tablets and other machines available through the Harvard contract.
  • Apple – Representatives from Apple will have the latest Apple products on display.
  • HarvardKey — The Identity & Access Management program at Harvard University Information Technology will introduce Harvard Key.
  • Office 365 —Our Office 365 gurus will offer overviews of new features and answer questions.
  • WordPress — The web team will showcase the recently launched Admissions web site and answer questions about WordPress.
  • Canvas — Media and Educational Technology Services (METS) will demo new features and answer questions about Canvas.
  • BlueJeans – Sign up for a free BlueJeans video conferencing account at the BlueJeans table!
  • Virtual Desktops – The server team will be demonstrating our new virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).  VDI allows students to access instructional computing lab software from their own computers.
  • Student Information Systems (SIS) — The SIS team will provide a sneak peak of the new platform that is coming in the Fall 2016.


  • We will offer tours of the new Countway Library Digital Technology Learning Studio.

We look forward to seeing you there!

iSite Migrations

Do you have a standard iSite that is active?

If so, be aware iSites will be retired in the summer of 2016.

The Harvard Chan School web team is prepared to help you find an alternative solution. Please fill out the following survey to get started:

Why are we retiring standard iSites?

The Harvard iSites platform is a ten-year-old homegrown platform using older technology and is need of replacement. As a result, Harvard University is transitioning to more focused and modern solutions that will meet the academic and administrative needs of schools and departments now and into the future.

What is our status?

Of the 600+ Harvard Chan standard iSites, 427 have already been migrated or retired.  We need your assistance to complete this project!

iSite Progress

What are your options?

Administrative iSites can be migrated over to the following platforms:

  • Harvard Chan WordPress
  • Confluence Wiki (Harvard PIN protected option, custom group option)
  • OpenScholar (Harvard PIN protected option)
  • SharePoint (manage documents in a secure location)

Resources for migrating your Standard iSite to a new platform can be found here:

We’re happy to setup a meeting to discuss your migration options in more detail. Please fill out the survey to get started.

RCC Intern Update: Nick Kashner

Nick KashnerUPDATE:
Nick has moved on to Florida State University and is studying for his bachelors degree in information technology!

He recently accepted a summer internship at JP Morgan as a tech analyst.

We wish him continued success.


Nick Kashner began working as a co-op on February, 2014 as part of his program at Roxbury Community College (RCC).  He is a candidate for an associate degree in web technologies with an anticipated graduation date of June 2015.

Nick is a Pawlet Scholarship Award winner and a member of the Alpha Delta Phi Literacy Society at Northeastern University. He has an impressive 3.75 GPA.

Nick is our seventh co-op in the HSPH-RCC partnership coordinated by the HSPH Office of Human Resources.

Please join us in welcoming Nick to the Harvard School of Public Health!

Harvard Chan Website Update on Monday, February 23

Word Press Logo

UPDATE, 2/24/2015: At 1:05 pm, the HSPH website become inaccessible due to a database issue related to the move.  The issue was resolved at 1:50 pm and access to the site was fully restored.

UPDATE, 2/23/2015: The move was successful and all services are operating normally.

On next Monday evening, we will move the School’s website to new servers. We do not anticipate any downtime for the public website in this move.  However, the move will necessitate a short WordPress dashboard lockout for site administrators.  Websites will not be editable until the move is complete.

When will it start?
Monday, February 23rd at 7 PM

How long with it take?
Approximately 3 hours

What is changing?
The web and database servers that support the School homepage website will be moved from our current servers to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Why are we switching servers?
Our move to Amazon Web Services enhances our ability to support high traffic loads and further optimize for greater availability. It also aligns us with a larger University initiative to cloud infrastructure.

Do I need to do anything?
We will test thoroughly after the move, but we ask that each publisher run through their website on Tuesday morning to ensure expected functionality.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

WordPress Training Opportunities

Word Press LogoThe Harvard Chan Web Team will be offering WordPress training in the Kresge LL6 computer laboratory on the following dates:

  • February 24, 11:30 am
  • March 26, 11:30 am

The training will cover many of the basic WordPress features, including how to edit pages, add images, and configure menus. It will be hands-on in a computer lab, so you can maximize your learning as you follow along.

No need to register, simply join us in the computer lab for an informative session!

For more training sessions and announcements, please check out

Welcome Back: Kevin Wnek

We are pleased to announce that Kevin Wnek has returned to the department of information technology as our manager of web and application development. Kevin will oversee the web team and student information systems (SIS) team which has been merged into one larger group.

Kevin Wnek

Kevin Wnek returns to HSPH as manager of web and application development. His team can be found at Landmark Center.

Kevin previously worked at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for seven years as a web and application developer, earning several promotions along the way.  In 2012, he left for a position at Thomson Reuters/NASDAQ as a web and streaming developer.

Kevin is a graduate of Northeastern University, where he earned a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering.  While at Harvard, Kevin took advantage of the tuition assistance program, and earned a masters degree in management from Harvard Extension School in 2014.

Please join us in welcoming Kevin back to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health!

Website Outage (Resolved)

Early this morning beginning at approximately 2:30 am, the HSPH main website began experiencing intermittent outages.  Our vendor had scheduled an overnight maintenance window to upgrade our cloud database solution.  The upgrade both took longer than expected and had a greater impact than expected.

As of 8:10 am, the issue was resolved.  All websites are fully operational.


Website Outage (Resolved)

This morning from 9:12 am, the HSPH website stopped responding due to an issue with our web application firewall.  The web and server team quickly resolved the issue with our cloud vendors restoring access to the site by 9:32 am.

At 1:23 pm, there were additional related issues at our cloud hosting provider.  These were resolved at approximately 6:00 pm.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by these outages.

Tech Day will be held on September 25

Tech Day 2014Do you have technology questions and don’t know who to ask? Have you ever wondered who all these “IT” folks are and how they can help you? Do you like free stuff? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in luck!

The HSPH Information Technology department is hosting a Tech Day on:

September 25th from 12:30 to 2 in the Kresge Cafeteria Atrium

We’ll be showing off the latest tech from tablets to video conferencing, hosting mini-talks, and raffling away prizes.

Come join us, meet the team, and have a great time.


  • Dell — representatives from Dell will have the latest laptop, tablets and other machines available through the Harvard contract.
  • Harvard TPC — representatives from Harvard’s Technology Product Center will have the latest Apple products available through the Harvard contract.
  • Office 365 — User Services Team will demonstrate Office 365, a cloud-based email that HSPH will be migrating to in 2015.
  • WordPress — the HSPH web team will demonstrate and explain the School’s site-wide responsive design on a variety of devices.
  • Canvas — Media and Educational Technology Services (METS) will demonstrate Canvas, the learning management system that HSPH and Harvard are rolling out over the next year.
  • MediaSite — METS will demonstrate MediaSite, HSPH’s new course capture system that was launched in September 2014.
  • BlueJeans – BlueJeans video conferencing will host a remote session to demonstrate their video conferencing bridging service.
  • Virtual Desktops – The server team will be demonstrating our new virtual desktop, which will allow you to work on the same desktop from anywhere…


  • We will offer quick 10 minute tours of the two new distance learning studios in Kresge LL and the HSPH server room.
Tech Day 2012

Hundreds of people stopped by a previous tech day to view new products and services.

Mini-talks (15 minute Q&A talks in Kresge 110):

  • Apple support: What do we offer?
  • Personal security (HRCI, Encryption, Privacy, and Virus Protection)
  • Digital signage
  • Google analytics
  • General Q & A

Tools to help your HSPH website shine

Summer is an ideal time to look through your site and make sure that everything is shipshape for the upcoming school year. The WebTeam has developed tools to help you identify problems and has suggestions for addressing these problems to make your site shine for the fall. Below are solutions to three common website issues – broken links, typos, and images that lack alt text.

Broken Links

broken_linksBroken links happen. You may have linked long ago to a site that’s now deleted or has since been updated. Such broken links adversely affect your search rankings on Google and are also very frustrating to users who can’t find the content they’re seeking. To help you find and fix broken links, the Broken Link Checker tool on your site’s dashboard will do all the hard work for you. And if you’re one of the primary site administrators, you’ll also be receiving email notifications about broken links on your site.

Click here for a tutorial on how to use the Broken Link Checker tool.


proofreaderWe all occasionally make typos. Unfortunately, typos on websites are there for the world to see and detract from a site’s overall professionalism. To rid your site of typos, you can use the Proofreading tool that’s built into the editor on your dashboard. Just click on the button in the top toolbar and, similar to Microsoft Word, red and green underlines will appear in your text, allowing you to spot issues and correct them.

For a complete tutorial on how to use the Proofreading tool, please click here.

Image Alt Tags

Image Alt Tags ExampleWhen inserting images into your site, always fill in the boxes for title and alt text. Alt text, which stands for “Alternative Text,” is important for people with visual disabilities because screen readers use it to describe what is in a picture. Google also uses the alt text to determine what a picture contains, allowing people to search for images based on keywords. To create alt tags, try to write no more than one-sentence descriptions that are detailed but not wordy. For example, for a picture of soccer on the med school quad, you could write the following alt tag: “Students play soccer on the Harvard Medical School quad on a beautiful summer afternoon.” The sentence is concise yet fully describes what the photo shows.

Click here for more information on alt tags and click here for a guide to best practices.