Category Archives: Web Development

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: webteam@hsph.harvard.edu.

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 http://hsph.me/wp.

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.

Tables:

  • 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…

Tours:

  • 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.

Typos

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.

New Staff Addition: Nick Kashner

Nick Kashner

Nick Kashner

Nick Kashner began working as a co-op on February 5 and will be working 10 hours each week through June 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!

Responsive Design Now Live on HSPH Website

If you are looking at the HSPH website with your smartphone or iPad, you may have noticed that the site is a bit easier to read and navigate today than it was last week.  This is thanks to a major effort by the Department of Information Technology and the Communications Group within External Relations to make the site more “responsive” to the vast variety of devices large and small that are now used to access websites.  Depending on the size of the screen you are using, the HSPH website now will display in a way that makes the type easiest to read and the site navigation easiest to use on that particular screen.

The HSPH website now adjusts based upon screen size optimizing the mobile experience for users.

The HSPH website now adjusts based upon screen size optimizing the mobile experience for users.

With nearly 30 percent of people now accessing the HSPH website each day through smart phones and other devices other than desktop computers, it was important to make the School’s internet presence more responsive to the global internet environment.  Meetings were held over the past couple of months with individuals in HSPH departments who manage portions of the HSPH website to alert them to these changes in the site’s design so they would have time to make adaptations if necessary. We thank all who have been involved in this project for their help in making it a reality and thereby improving the quality of user experience for the millions of individuals who access our website each year.

New Design on iPhone

New Design on iPhone

While we have tested the new designs on literally dozens of devices, we would appreciate hearing from anyone who experiences a glitch on his or her particular smart phone or other device so we can address any problems quickly.  Please email webteam@hsph.harvard.edu with any problems you identify.

Many thanks to the Web Team and staff in the Communications Group for their hard work on this project!

Julie F. Rafferty
Associate Vice Dean for Communications

Deane Eastwood
IT Director

HSPH Website: Changes in 2014!

Dear HSPH Website Administrators,

We will be holding two HSPH website informational sessions to kick off 2014.  They will be held in Kresge G2 on:

  • Thursday, January 16, 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

At these sessions, we will bring you up to date on planned initiatives for the HSPH website in 2014, including a major initiative to make the website easier to read and use on mobile devices, including cell phones, iPads and the like.  More than 22 percent of web traffic to the HSPH website now comes through mobile devices that employ smaller screens than traditional desktop and laptop computers – and that percentage is expected to grow tremendously. This project will likely influence how you think about such things as layout and site navigation on the websites you update and manage at the School.  David Marshall, senior web developer, will take you through a discussion of “Responsive Design: Making the HSPH Website Mobile-friendly.” Finally, we’ll leave time for your questions on mobile design or other web topics.

campaign responsive

HSPH capital campaign website is one of our first responsive designs

We hope to see you at a session!

Deane Eastwood
for the HSPH Web Team

—————————————————————————————-
Agenda

  • Introduction and recap of key 2013 website accomplishments
  • Highlighted initiatives in 2014
  • Responsive Design: Making the HSPH Website Mobile-friendly
    • What is Responsive Design?
    • Why is it important?
    • When is it coming to HSPH?
    • How does this impact you as site administrators?
    • How can you help with this important initiative?
    • Q&A