Jan 7 14

Position Re-Opened: Web Developer/Designer

by Ash

FIU‘s Office of Web Communications is Hiring a full time Web Developer/Designer.

The Web Developer/Designer is responsible for the technical implementation and support of FIU’s web presence, including application development.

Duties include:

  • Responsible for the technical implementation and support of FIU’s campus calendar and campus maps, including application maintenance and improvements.
  • Develops software in an agile environment by collecting specifications, testing, documenting and training in an effort to provide useful applications and meet business needs.
  • Adheres to upcoming and ever changing web trends including valid XHTML/CSS, 508 and ADA compliance, search engine optimization, user interface/information design.
  • Facilitates integration of Web Services with FIU’s databases and services.
  • Works strategically with stakeholders (deans, academic program chairs, and administrators) across the University to help determine the best use of the Web for their respective areas. Researches new developments in electronic communications that can be used to increase visibility and enhance electronic communication internally and externally

Minimum qualifications: Master’s degree in MIS, Computer Science or appropriate specialization; or Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, MIS or other appropriate specialization and two years of experience.

Department Preferences:

  • 3+ years in a comparable role or involved with web development, with a very strong preference for similar experience in higher education.
  • Preferred experience in Java-based technologies, Flash action scripting and enterprise-level content management systems.
  • Experience with WordPress and CakePHP is a plus.
  • Knowledge of Mobile / Responsive Web Design.
  • Knowledge of PHP, MySQL, Javascript ,JSON, JSONp languages.
  • Knowledge of Model–view–controller (MVC) environment.
  • Knowledge of Unix / Linux environments
  • Knowledge of Google Maps API and Google Earth. Knowledge of best practices for the web and Section 508/ADA Compliance, W3C Standards.

Salary: $44,000 to $55,000 Commensurate with experience.

For further information or to apply online visit our website at http://careers.fiu.edu  and reference job opening ID #506595.

Florida International University is an Equal Opportunity, Equal Access Affirmative Action, Equal Access Employer, and Equal Opportunity Employer.

Oct 16 13

We’re Hiring a new Web Project Manager!

by Ash

UPDATE: We’ve closed the job opening.

Florida International University’s Office of Web Communications is looking for a new Web Project Manager! That’s right, my long and wonderful run as the team’s PM is coming to and end.  My husband and I are relocating to Kenya in the coming months, and I need someone awesome to take over the web team here at FIU.  I’ll be around for the on-boarding process, so you’ll have some help.  If you feel that you’re the man/woman) for the job, check out the job details below and hop on over to http://jobs.fiu.edu to apply. Best of luck!

Job Duties:

  • Provides leadership and direction to team members to meet project objectives by understanding web design and web development, the differences between the two, and how to utilize both.  Serves as liaison between the client and technical development/creative design teams.
  • Actively tests and quality checks work on projects from inception to completion, ensuring that design elements meet client expectations, and development functions work as expected on supported web platforms. Works with user testing volunteers and user interface designers to ensure that deliverables meet specifications and are fit for use.  Manages quality throughout the process.
  • Contributes to achieving organizational goals. Works with Director and Design & Development team to prioritize and staff projects. Manages multiple concurrent website redesign and web application projects. Works with team to determine actual timeline and budget to deliver those requirements.
  • Communicates with all levels of the organization and proactively takes ownership of all assigned projects. Manages communication with clients, sets and manages client expectations, and develops lasting relationships with stakeholders.  Establishes post-launch maintenance contracts for clients when needed.
  • Works with clients to analyze real needs and define real requirements and project scope for website and application development. Creates estimates/cost quotes for client and obtains proper sign-offs for client deliverables and payment.  Tracks project progress via timelines and reports on a regular basis to relevant stakeholders.
  • Maintains documentation required for project execution.  Ensures that all documents are complete, current, and stored appropriately.
  • Stays current on emerging trends in Web design and development.  Works with other senior team members to integrate emerging technologies, practices, and conventions that increase the success rate of projects. Maintains relationships with counterparts at other schools while remaining active on message boards and mailing lists related to project management.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization; or a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization and two years of appropriate experience. Previous project management experience is required.

Desired Qualifications:

  • PMP Certification preferred.
  • Customer service experience.
  • Marketing & Communications experience.
  • Experience maintaining website and/or application development is a plus.
  • Familiarity with TeamworkPM project tracking software is a plus.
  • Experience with Hannon Hill Cascade Server CMS is a plus.
  • Experience with WordPress is a plus.
  • Excellent organizational, analytical, problem solving and interpersonal skills.

Visit http://jobs.fiu.edu and search for Job ID # 506762. Then follow the instructions to register and apply.

Sep 16 13

Effective Pinterest-style Promotions

by Ash

We redesigned the business services website, shop.fiu.edu, recently and added a phase 2 launch for their Promotions section.  When they first approached us asking for a “Pinterest-style” page, I was skeptical of how that would turn out.  But, as a finished product, the page definitely works – and it’s pretty awesome. Our MMC campus has tons of dining and retail options, so this promotions page will always have something new on it – it’s kind of a content creators playground.


The back end for content editors is great, too. The back end of each individual promotional item’s page is set up to hold all the information in one place and display it in several places based on user preferences (some items are on both the “What’s New” page and the “Promotions” page, while some are solely on the “Promotions” page). Older promotions get archived automatically by a pre-set time and date, thanks to our handy-dandy Hannon Hill Cascade CMS.

Sep 13 13

Launch: Undergraduate Admissions

by Ash

I’ll start by saying that the job we did to complete and launch the new Undergraduate Admissions website was definitely a team effort between the content creators and web team.  Some of the content was re-written by Stamates and moved into a new site template by another team before we got a hold of this long-awaited project. This made it easier to develop the design using the existing/new content without having to put in the usual ill-fitting dummy text.  This site was a lot of fun to make because we were able to create a great design around the content, rather that force the content into a great design.

admissions homepage discover page

Fabian, our lead designer, sprinkled his own little design quirks throughout the site as well.  CSS 3 and webkit transitions make the banners appear to have a sepia tone with the color fading in slowly – really beautiful to watch. The banners also have a parallax-like effect – the image and text seem to move fluidly up as you scroll down.

Making this site accessible, user friendly and responsive were the guiding key principles for the project.  Our old Admissions site (which I sadly had to apply through when I attended FIU) was a link farm from the early days of FIU’s web presence and had the right information, but it was almost impossible to find it or navigate through the site in hopes of stumbling upon it.  Even during production we had to keep a list of links handy to port the right content into the new site.

We also learned an important lesson while launching this site: BEFORE a redesign of an Admissions site, the web team should seek out all the links on your university’s website that ask users to do things like “Apply” or ask for “More Information” or “Schedule a Campus Tour” – all very important links.  We overlooked that simple yet important step, and as a result we spent about 2 hours after the launch putting redirects in place and sifting through our other webpages replacing the old links with the new ones.  A week later, I’m still finding some in obscure places and asking webmasters, advisors and Admissions staff to correct the links on their sites, print materials and email blasts.

This screen cast will give you a quick tour of my favorite pieces:  the Homepage and the “Discover” page. It’s definitely one of my favorite redesigns since joining the web team.


Jul 9 13

FIU Online is hiring a Graphic Designer

by Ash

FIU Online’s Marketing and Communications department is looking for a Graphic Designer to join its amazing team.

Interested individuals will have to apply DIRECTLY to the fiu.edu website by following the below instructions:

  • Visit: http://careers.fiu.edu.
  • Read job posting for ALL details – the below is a summary
  • Search for Job ID: 506253 (Graphics Designer, Administrative, University College, FIU Online Web Based Courses, Modesto A. Maidique Campus)
  • Posting Period: 7/1/13 – 7/19/13.
  • Follow the application instructions as required

Job Summary:

  • Provides strategic creative direction and is able to execute and produce innovative ideas, concepts and campaigns.
  • Plans concepts for projects by studying information and materials; develops design briefs based on needs.
  • Illustrates concept(s) by designing rough layout of art and copy regarding arrangement, size, type size and style, and related aesthetic concepts.
  • Creates a wide variety of layouts, iconography, font treatments, package designs, graphic web designs, logos and illustrations.
  • Keeps current with and applies working knowledge of industry-standard print and presentation software, such as Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator and Dreamweaver) and other such as PowerPoint, Keynote, QuarkXPress, Flash and Director.
  • Integrates graphic work in all areas of marketing promotion including publications, brochures, the web, interactive designs, event marketing, social media, print, online, outdoor, video, among others.
  • Maintains superior skill in graphic design, typography, sound, and color sense.
  • Produces still and animated graphics for web banners.
  • Marks up, pastes, and assembles final layouts to prepare layouts for printer.
  • Works with others, such as printers, programmers, developers or other technicians, to complete the final product.
  • Demonstrates ability to consistently produce a high volume of quality work under tight deadlines.
  • Applies knowledge of all aspects of offset and digital prepress and print production processes and technology.
  • Maintains current on technical and industry trends.
  • Performs other related duties as required or as directed. The omission of specific duties does not preclude the supervisor from assigning duties that are logically related to the position.
  • Works in collaboration with the Division of External Relations on all collateral development, advertising and promotion.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization; or a Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization and two years of appropriate experience. Preferred Degree: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

Desired Qualifications:

  • Minimum of 5 years of experience in an ad agency, design studio or corporate design team preferred.
  • Candidate should be self-motivated and results oriented
  • Experience with web design development, charts/graphs, photography and other artwork a plus.

Advertised Salary: $50,000 -$55,000.

Jun 28 13

Free Starbucks Gift Cards – Just Ask How!

by Ash

So that title obviously got you to look a little deeper – and that’s exactly how we gather a usability testing/feedback group here at Web Comm.  Today we managed to do testing/feedback sessions for three websites with three small groups.  We offered Starbucks gift cards for a couple groups and pizza, soda, bread sticks for the groups that came over lunchtime.  It’s a lot easier to ask someone to fill out a three page questionnaire about a website over their lunch hour if you’re offering food and drink. We have two Starbucks locations on campus, so the gift cards are close-to-instant gratification. Besides feeding your test subjects, you can:

  • Make the usability session fun by treating it like a web-based scavenger hunt
  • Offer future incentives if they leave their email address so you can regularly poll them for feedback
  • Make them feel comfortable – break out the office toys and let them put their feet up
  • Don’t rush their reactions or feedback and always remind them that there is no wrong answer
  • Make them feel valued – tell them how their feedback will help and let them know who the stakeholders are

How do you gather a usability/feedback army?

Jun 2 13

Directorless is not Leaderless

by Ash

Last Friday proved to be one of the most cooperative days as a team for us since I started working here. We were given less than a day’s notice to set up a new Google Analytics goal/event for a landing page under the main FIU website. It wasn’t as simple as tracking a number of visits to a page, but rather visits to the page, visits to a specific portion of the page (via page anchor), and then tracking the number of clicks on a PDF download link.


My developer – who happens to be the one with the most Analytics knowledge – was on vacation abroad. I ran around like a headless chicken for about an hour before I realized that I couldn’t do it alone (one of my greatest faults, admittedly) and tossed the problem out to the guys for some help. Once the request was out everyone who could possible help chimed in with different solutions and within a couple of hours we found one that worked and the data started showing up in Google Analytics Real Time event tracker (beta) – which is awesome, by the way. Camilo, our CMS admin, found out that Chrome has a neat analytics debugging extension that shows the data as the event is fired as well as any errors in the code setup – also very awesome. I watched it and tested it out over the weekend, and it’s working like a charm.

It was a really great thing to watch the guys come together in and out of office to make this happen so quickly. While my team currently has no director in place, it does not mean that we are without a leader. Each person involved stood up and took the lead where they could and played #2 when needed, without any complaint or hesitation

May 10 13

We need this website, like, tomorrow!

by Ash

What happens when you get pulled into a meeting where you already know it will end in someone important saying, “And we’ll need this up by Friday.”?

This just happened to us – twice in the same week – and it’s made me realize that almost anything is possible with an amazing team, a few good resources, and event just a brief background on the subject at hand. It’s just like a regular website redesign project process, but in fast-forward. Here’s how we did it:

  1. Meet with the stakeholders, or at least someone who can speak for them, and find out what they want/expect out of the final product. We met with the VP for Academic Affairs, the VP of External Relations, and the Asst. Dean of Undergraduate Education.
  2. Find/Request any existing documents, images, videos, etc. that you can use. We used 1) a research report on the success of the program and its students, 2) information from the one-pager on the Undergraduate Admissions website, and 3) a document containing potential website content.
  3. Communicate with an informed contact that can give you the background on the topic. We met with one of the people who handled the actual program and interacted with the students, and she handed over a nicely done mockup of a couple ideas to present the information via the web.
  4. Ask the right questions.  I put myself in the mindset of an interested student who knew little to nothing about the program, asked questions from that POV, and organized the content accordingly.
  5. Get your hands dirty. I asked the team to put together a single-column blank site template, and we dug into the blocks, formats, and CSS/HTML to mold it around the content.
  6. Gather feedback. We put the site up on our dev server and sent the link out to all the stakeholders. Once the feedback was in, we tweaked the content as needed.
  7. Launch and spread the word. The site went up without a flaw and we linked to it from several resources. Analytics are being gathered and everyone’s happy.
  8. Bask in the glory. We did it in less than a week. Our VP noticed. WebComm rules.

The results for both projects were equally great, and we received great feedback and thanks for getting everything up so quickly. Bonus: these efforts secured two larger projects for us that will grow out of the fast-tracked ones – we have sign off on designing/developing the new Undergraduate Admissions website (YES!!) and our team will be creating the new Chinese-language website for our students overseas.

Dual Admission Program

dual admission

Chinese-language Rankings & Facts

fiu china


May 9 13

Web Team Sykpe[n] Pals

by Ash

Today we met up on Skype with the university advancement web team at University of Saskatchewan.  They wanted to know a little bit more about what we do and how we function as a web team under the Division of External Relations.  We started off with only one thing in common – our Cascade Server CMS – and ended up finding a lot of common ground. We shared stories and gave them a bit of insight on how we’ve grown from a one-man army to a small team of web designers, developers, social media managers and web content wranglers.  They had a ton of great questions for us, and made us feel like we could offer some pretty good advice and a sneak peak into how we made it this far.

Some things were new to us, some were new to them, and some things elicited responses from both sides of laughter and things like, “that’s just how it is with web.” At the end of our Skype session, they asked that we keep in touch every 3- 6 months to see what everyone’s working on. Awesome idea. We agreed, and were actually really excited to now have some web team “pen pals.”

While you’re reaching for the starts and not quite sure if you’ll ever reach, never forget that your past hardships and achievements can offer some great insight for other teams who are about to go through the same.

May 7 13

Launch: Internships Portal

by Ash

We recently launched an Internships Portal for students here at FIU.

Internships portal at FIU

During our pre-design research, I didn’t find many well-executed internship sites in higher ed.  I’m wondering if anyone else out there in higher ed currently has a site that assists students in learning about internships, finding internships, and succeeding in their internships.  Though we did some user testing before we designed it, we plan to revisit the site’s content and navigational structure once we’ve gauged what students are looking at on the actual site through analytics and feedback.  Any feedback or insight on how to best get internship resources to students is appreciated!

Work with us