Borrowing design ideas?

I was surfing the web today in search of good examples of university/college web designs for an upcoming proposal. I had a two-pronged plan. Step one, visit sites for schools that I was already familiar with as well as viewing sites from the colleges of OSU. Step two, visit edustyle for a sampling of the latest in higher education web designs.

I fired up Firefox and surfed to the websites of Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. I’ve visited their sites before and appreciated their overall look and feel.

My next step was to open up tabs for each of the College sites for OSU. The College of Health and Human Sciences, Education, Ag Sciences, Science, Forestry, etc.

Then I opened up the OSU College of Engineering website. My jaw hit my desk and my eyes were agape. The Virginia Tech homepage and the College of Engineering homepage were like twins that had never met each other. The color schemes, backgrounds and grids were extremely similar. I wasn’t sure if it was pilfering, borrowing or at best, design inspiration?

The screenshots really tell the tale…
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Google PageRank = 1

Google is messing with my PageRank Google has apparently modified their PageRank algorithm. My site’s PageRank has dropped from a pleasant PR of 5 to a rookie year low of 1. One interesting part of the PageRank dip is that other sections of my site still have PageRanks of 2, 3, and 4.

In other techie news, one of my clients, AACRAO Consulting, has a PageRank that has increased from a PR of 0 (the effects of being brand new) to a PR of 5 (a number that I used to be fond of…).

Feel free to see if the PageRank change-o-rama has affected your site.

Bad news via Kottke.

Accessibility + Google

via the Official Google Blog:

  • Web Search: Result pages include headers to delineate logical sections.
  • Accessible Search: Promotes results that are accessible.
  • Book Search: Full-text access to public-domain works.
  • Gmail: A simple yet functional HTML mode that works well with screenreaders.
  • Gmail Mobile: A lightweight user interface that is also speech-friendly.
  • Google Maps: Easy-to-use textual directions.
  • Calendar: A functional, yet speech-friendly user interface.
  • Audio Captchas: All services that use Google Accounts provide an audio alternative for the visual challenge-response tests that are used to distinguish humans from machines.
  • Mobile Transcoder: A mobile lens for viewing the web that produces accessible views.
  • Google Video: Allows uploaded videos to contain captions/subtitles in multiple languages for viewers who are hearing-impaired or unfamiliar with the original language.
  • Google Talk: IM clients inside a web browser can pose accessibility challenges, but the use of the open Jabber API means that Google users can choose from a variety of Jabber clients, many of which work well with adaptive technologies.
  • Web APIs: Many Google services offer high-level web APIs that aid in authoring mashups; this provides a means for creating highly customized accessible views.
  • 1-800-GOOG-411: Here’s an exception to the rule that we deliver most things through a web browser. Our experimental Voice Local Search service lets anyone who can speak into a phone search for a local business by name or category; get connected to the business free of charge; get the details by SMS if you’re using a mobile phone. (Just say “text message”.)

Blackboard Community System

Blackboard Community System

Blackboard had an amazing booth at the NASPA/ACPA Joint Meeting in Orlando. It was the size of small house and it looked like one too! Inside their mini-mansion, the folks from Blackboard were demoing their portal solution, the Blackboard Community System.

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Strategic Student Affairs Technology planning

The Division of Student Affairs at NC State University engage in strategic student affairs technology planning. There site includes downloadable technology planning checklists, technology position responsibility documents, technology planning overview and an overview of the student affairs division technology plan.

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Send Me a Voice Message

Send Me A Message

E-mail, voicemail, instant messaging, and postal mail are just a few of the ways that I can be contacted. Next week I plan on implementing a solar-powered carrier pigeon system…

Recently, I came across the ODEO “Send a message” service which allows blog visitors to record an audio voice message that is then emailed to the blogger.

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