Berkeley Law On the Web


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Our new events calendar

One of the frustrations of the new year is that we haven’t had a truly effective tool for publicizing events.

Today, we’re pleased to be finally christening our new Berkeley Law Events Calendar as the school’s primary events tool. This versatile new calendar (linked at the top of nearly every web page) will make it easy for people to see what’s going on at the school and give event organizers more control over their information.

The BBB, used in the past to promote events, will remain. But it will be dedicated strictly to non-event announcements (see the BBB “About” page for more information.)

The new calendar offers many features, allowing users to view events as a monthly calendar grid, daily or weekly lists of events (similar to the old BBB), or filtered by keywords. Users can also create email reminders for individual events, download event information, and print out event lists for when they’re offline. (Be sure to read the Calendar Tips page, which explains how to exploit many of the features of the calendar.)

What’s more, the main Berkeley Law Events calendar is an umbrella for many sub-calendars. So if users only want to see a certain type of event—such as those hosted by student groups or a center—they can view one of those individual calendars. (See the full menu of calendars here: http://farnsworth.law.berkeley.edu/MasterCalendar/).

How will events get onto the calendar? For many events, the calendar pulls information from our room reservation system. Centers, clinics and school departments then use their own sub-calendars edit to those listings to add more detail. We’ve trained several centers on this process, and will continue training until everyone has the access they need.

Students and student groups, meanwhile, will submit events through a sub-calendar managed by Student Services. Those events will appear on that calendar as well as the main Berkeley Law calendar.

Details on the submission process can be found here.

We’re still training users, adding sub-calendars, and quashing little bugs, so not everything is just as we want it yet. But we’re ready for event organizers to begin using it to publicize events, and for our community to use to find events.

Thanks much.

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The new BBB

A couple of months ago, we asked the Berkeley Law community how they used the BBB. We got a ton of great feedback. Based on that feedback, and internal discussions about what seems to make sense, we’ve come up with a slightly new format for the BBB that will debut with our new web site next month.

Because we will be introducing a new school calendar that will hopefully capture virtually most school events, we are moving events out of the BBB. The BBB will now be primarily focused on school-related announcements and reminders.

What’s more, the BBB will be updated regularly whenever there is new content. Units within the school will be able to publish to the BBB web page directly, whenever they have information to share. This means the BBB moves from a weekly publication to a near-daily, blog-like information source.

Lastly, our hope is that we’ll be able to generate an RSS feed for the BBB, which may in turn allow us to offer regular email updates.

This seems like the best model for the BBB. But we’ll listen to feedback once it’s rolled out. And if it makes sense to make adjustments, we’ll do so.

Cheers.

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Do you use the BBB?

One of the byproducts of our web site redesign is that we are pondering the future of the BBB (Boalt Bulletin Board). The BBB has been around for a long time, in various forms, and it’s time to understand exactly how people use it and what purpose it’s serving. Please take moment to answer the following questions and add any other comments that are appropriate.

1. Do you use the BBB? If no, why not?

2. What do you use it for? What information in it is most useful or interesting to you?

3. If you could find the same information that is now in the BBB on other places of the web site, would that suffice? For example, if we had a robust web calendar of events, would the BBB be less necessary as an information tool?

4. How do you like to access the BBB? Paper copy? On the web site? Via email? RSS feed?

5. How could the BBB be more useful to you?

Please leave your comments below. Thanks!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that under one scenario the BBB could become a regularly updated (nearly daily) online publication, not unlike a blog, instead of being published weekly. That way, the information can be more current. What do folks think of that?

UPDATE2: I’m hearing a surprising number of people – here and via email – say they like the paper version because it’s more convenient.

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Quick links for faculty and staff

Faculty and staff members, we want your feedback on an important new feature we’ll be adding to the web site. At the top of the home page of our new web site will be tabs for students, faculty/staff and prospective employers. When a user clicks on a tab, a little box will pop down with a list of quick links. The goal here is to get people to the pages of the web site they need quickly and with the fewest clicks possible. (Note: We’ll also use this space for important reminders or announcements.) Click on the image below to enlarge it so you can see what we’re talking about.

Here’s where we need your help. Which quick links would be the most useful for faculty and staff in that box? What parts of the web site do you go to most often? We’ve created our own placeholder list. How closely does it match the list you’d create? This little quick-links box is your space. Be thoughtful, and leave your suggestions below.

A couple of points to note: As you can see, space is at a premium. We probably can’t add a greater number of links than shown below. Also, majority rules here. Ultimately, that small piece of web real estate needs to serve the most faculty and staff as possible. But all comments and suggestions are welcome.

faculty-tab.jpg

Click on image to enlarge it.

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Quick links for students

It’s been a while since we posted anything. Apologies. We’ve been busy cranking away on the new site.

Today, we want your feedback on a neat new feature we’ll be adding to the web site. At the top of the home page will be tabs for students, faculty and prospective employers. When a user clicks on a tab, a little box will pop down with a list of quick links. The goal here is to get people to the pages of the web site they need as quickly as possible, with the fewest clicks possible. (Note: We’ll also use this space for important reminders or announcements.) Click on the image below to enlarge it so you can see what we’re talking about.

Here’s where we need your help. Which quick links would be the most useful for students in that box? We’ve created our own list, based on chats with students and what we know about where people go on the site. How closely does it match the list you’d create? Leave your comments below.

Majority rules here. Ultimately, that small piece of web real estate needs to serve the most students as possible. But all comments and suggestions are welcome.

student-tab-for-blog.jpg
Click to enlarge.

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Navigating the new web site

In a web site redesign, people are understandably anxious to see how the new site will look. But just as you can’t build a house without architectural plans and blueprints, you can’t really build a complex web site until you map out the site navigation, or information architecture.

This week, we came up with the top-level links that will live on the home page. These are what I call penciled in stone, meaning they may change a little, but hopefully not much.

Here’s how it looks:

Main top-level links:
About Us
Admissions
Our Faculty
Centers
Clinics
Calendar
Newsroom
Academics
Alumni Network
Library
Berkeley Life
Giving

Secondary links:
For Students
For Faculty and Staff
For Employers
Directory

One of the key concepts here is that we are segregating content that is mostly relevant to prospective students and outsiders from the utilitarian content for our internal community. Many educational institutions create navigation schemes that co-mingle this content, ending up with vague links for “students’’ and “faculty’’ that don’t make clear who is the intended user. We want to avoid that and get people to their content more quickly.

We’ve also added a Berkeley Life link because one of the features that distinguishes us from other law schools is the engagement and vibrancy at the school itself and the amazing geography and social community in which the school is located. While talking with many students who came here from other parts of the country, we heard that we should be touting our wonderful location in the Bay Area more.

You’ll also notice a new Calendar link. The implication is that we will soon have a more comprehensive centralized web calendar for the whole school, something many commenters on this blog asked about. Rest assured we are working on that.

Soon, White Whale will give us some designs to look at, which we’ll try to share here.

That’s all for now.

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Making the Students page more useful

Let’s face it, our current “Students” page leaves a little to be desired. Lots of useful links. No real dynamic content. How would you beef it up to make it more useful? One suggestion we heard last week was to list upcoming events and deadlines that are relevant to students. What else? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts.

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Welcome to the web site replacement blog

Hi folks. Welcome to the law school’s web site replacement blog. I’m Michael Bazeley, and I work in Communications and Marketing here at Boalt as the editorial director of electronic media. We have officially begun the process of replacing our current web site with something more useful, informative and, we hope, visually appealing. We’ll use this blog to share progress reports and to solicit ideas and feedback.

A little background on the project, which is being managed by the Communications team and the Instructional Support and Technology (IS&T) team. I’m not calling it a “redesign” because it’s more involved than that. We are ripping out the back end of the site and replacing it with a new content management system (CMS) that will make it easier to keep the site updated with fresh content. At the same time, we have partnered with Oakland web development firm White Whale Web Services to create a new site structure and design. With luck, the White Whale team will pop in here on the blog every once in a while to tell us what they’re up to.

At a meeting last week with some students and the web team, a student asked White Whale whether they’ll be working on this project “over the next year.” On the contrary, this will be a fast-moving, months-long process. Though we are not yet ready to share a “launch date,” you’ll definitely see a new web site well before the end of the calendar year.

Some quick ground rules about this blog. Although we welcome all comments, positive and negative, please keep them constructive and civil. Also, when commenting, please mention whether you are a student (current or prospective), staff or faculty member, or alum.

In the next post, I’ll direct a question to students about how they use the site. Please chime in with your comments there.

Thanks for reading, and we look forward to your involvement as we create the new site.

(Note: On the right side of the blog we’ve added a little form for people who want to follow this blog via email. Just enter your email address and follow the directions, and you’ll receive email updates whenever we post new blog entries. You’ll also notice a ShareThis button under each entry. That allows you to easily email a blog entry to someone, or to send a link to a myriad of third-party services.)

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