Degree Program Banners

I know the webmasters have been asking for this for a while… and they are almost done. You can see one of these banners right now as we are doing a push for the MSHR cohort that starts this Spring. The banner is posted on your websites as of right now. These banners, one for each degree, will be posted to SmugMug very very soon. Promise. On a side note, there are a total of three banners posted to your sites currently from our office, maybe four. If you NEED a spot, please let me know and I can take one down. All four are pretty important, but I understand if you need the space, so just email me.

I have a few tips for you as well. These deal with spotlights and the orientation.

If You Run Multiple Sites

If you have to edit multiple sites this may help you. The concept may be hard to grasp at first but if can save you time. The MSHR banner I just put up links to the MSHR degree on each site, however I only made one banner and one link. (I edited the orientation link in the reg banner to work like this as well). If you remember in the CMS, you can set an alternate link so when you click on the banner image it goes to any page you want. I set the banner to initially go to distance.usu.edu/degree_programs/?_d=109. If I left it like this I would have needed to make a Spotlight for EACH campus changing distance.usu.edu to whatever campus site I was doing. This would be a pain to do. It was either that, or have all the campus sites’ banners link to OUR website degree page which is not ideal.

The Solution

I made the Alternate Link for the banner like so:

/degree_programs/?_d=109

Relative links to the rescue. Rather than specify a site name in my link I used a relative linking method. This may get a little confusing, but I’ll explain it here, stay with me. On all of the sites besides the main site, the banners are located on the homepage. (On our site they are located on the current students page.) So I could have written the link like so:

degree_programs/?_d=109

that is, without the ../. So in the second example, the link says from your current URL, add “degree_programs/?_d=109”. Since the link is always located on the homepage of all the sites, it would build the link like so:

CURRENTLOCATION/ + degree_programs/?_d=109 OR sitename.usu.edu/ + degree_programs/?_d=109

however on the main site, since the banners are located on the  current students page, the link would have been built like so:

CURRENTLOCATION/ + degree_programs/?_d=109 OR distance.usu.edu/current_students/degree_programs/?_d=109

which is incorrect. I don’t want the “current_students” in there because that is not where the page exists. This is there our friend “/” comes in. “/” tells the browser to start the link from the “root” of the site. So no matter where we are in the site, it creates the link from the root (or homepage) of the site. After that, it then appends on the link which is “degree_programs/?_d=109.” Make sense? (It can get a little confusing). This is how I can make one link that applies to all of the sites correctly.

Sooooo…. if you have multiple sites and you are trying to make a banner or something, if the page location is the same on all of the sites, you need not create a banner for each one. Just build you links starting with the “/” and it will fill in the site name for you.

Spotlights in the News Feed

If you are running a spotlight to an alternate link, you may want to add a bit of additional information than you normally would have in the past. As you know, spotlights and news items show up in the news feeds on the homepages of the sites. However if you make a spotlight to an alternate location, you had no need to enter in any content in the past. I mean, why would you, the content is never seen, because when someone clicks on the spotlight it takes them to the alternate link, not to a page where they are read the content.

No so anymore. The homepage feeds will display a bit of the content within the feed. If the content is too long it will trim it and add a keep reading link, however it will but some if it. If you leave the content blank, then the feed item looks a little lonely in the news feed.

Solution

Add a little bit of content, even if you are sending the spotlight to an alternate location. That way there is a small, short summary of info for the users to maybe prompt them of what the link goes to. I did this for both the Course Search iOS app Spotlight and the MSHR spotlight and I really think it helps make the news feed look more filled out. Up to you though, so do what you think is best.

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