Last week I caught word of a conference happening mere feet away from my office, on the SU campus, focused on “higher ed web”. I had no idea what that meant – I mean, I’m immersed in higher ed, and I know what a/the web is – but I had no idea what would actually happen at such a conference. Do you compare websites? “Mine has great graphics, but man, your layout is so intuitive!” Do you talk about how to attract the right kind of students? “We want students that appreciate artistic Instagram photos, but if you want students that like good blogging, well, here’s how to do that.”
Summary: I had no idea what would happen.
Here’s what I knew:
A conference of smart people was happening feet away from me.
I like smart people.
So I effectively crashed the conference, representing the iSchool while still getting to hear some of the presentations. And it wasn’t what I expected, but even better, I learned things. And we all know how I feel about learning! (It’s a good thing; I enjoy it. So now we really DO all know.)
And because brevity is a wonderful thing and I haven’t had enough coffee to do more, here’s a summary of what I liked/noted/enjoyed/remember:
- Devices make life more convenient – and more complex. Don’t make the assumption that everyone has one, OR that they know how to use it. – advice from Jill’s keynote
- Jill wins SO many points from me for putting an attributing link for every Flickr image used on her slides. YES.
- Accessibility is a big deal, especially if you’re moving to lots of web content. Do you alt-text your images? Is your alt-text at all similar to what you’re actually alt-texting? Do you optimize for screen readers? (This came up multiple times.)
- If you’re making a higher-ed website, consult XKCD first. Obviously.
- Not everyone wants apps, especially people who don’t have app-centric devices. Even people WITH those devices admit to often using the web function instead.
- Students are already talking about your school. Don’t be afraid to ask them to continue to do so.
- Undergraduate students might not mind being paid in pizza. This graduate student probably wouldn’t – it would just mean more time at the gym. Nothx.
- Tweetbook might be the coolest thing ever. *nerdy squee*
- If your philosophy sees accessibility as something “that needs to be fixed” in the system… you might want to reconsider your philosophy before you “fix” the system.
- Everyone loves old school, black-and-yellow Tweetdeck. Everyone.
- People who write code are really, really smart. But they know how to talk to us non-coders. Quite the skill.
And that’s just the highlights. You can read through the pretty-active hashtag for the event, #hewebsyr, to catch more thoughts from more people. Thanks for the fun, conference attendees and speakers!