Documentation:CTLT's Website Development and Hosting

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Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology’s (CTLT) web development efforts focus on creating sites that enhance teaching and learning, support community engagement and enable resource sharing and content re-use. We use WordPress and MediaWiki frameworks and implement best Web 2.0 practices to deliver user-friendly solutions that are easy to maintain, manage and scale. We partner with UBC IT to integrate with other campus services. Websites we build are hosted on University IT’s VM servers, and have CWL as primary means of authentication. In addition, we have developed ways to pull content from other UBC sites (e.g., UBC Events) or feed (republish) your website content to other sites (e.g., Blackboard Vista, department websites). When it comes to managing you online resources and presenting your information online, Office of Learning Technology (CTLT) offers many different options:

  • Common Look and Feel (CLF)–enabled websites. CTLT offers flexible CMS (Content Management System) for creating and hosting CLF websites, for administrative units and general UBC usage.
  • General website development . In addition to CLF template-based development, CTLT offers complete web solutions, including custom design, based on our WordPress/MediaWiki platform.
  • Online resource management. We pay special attention to portability of web resources - CTLT has enhanced its open platform (WordPress and MediaWiki) to support redistributing of the content from its original location (usually easy-to-manage wiki space) to various other webspaces (blogs, websites, online courses...
  • Personal publishing. CTLT offers UBC blogs: blogging platform available for anyone with valid CWL. It is tipically used for personal or group blogging, community development, online courses, eportfolio projects and similar.

We work closely with our clients throughout the development process to surface needs, identify requirements, and develop sustainable solutions. During the discovery phase, we thoroughly scope the project, including outlining audiences and inventorying requirements. During this phase we proactively offer different conceptual directions and provide a range of options to help with visualizing needs from different perspectives. This process aligns well with current web development trends that enable rapid exploration and discovery. Once the requirements are finalized we move through the the rest of the cycle – development, quality assurance, training and finally going live. We work with our clients to ensure there is a thorough understanding of the work needed with a mutually agreed upon timeline and and clear milestones.

CTLT's website development process

Here is the how typical CTLT's website development process looks like:

Scope and high-level discovery

In this phase, we work with client on detailed project scoping and requirements analysis, including audience and content analysis. We also strongly encourage clients to create Request for Proposal that will help articulating their needs better. Deliverables: Sign-off, Project Plan including party specific assumptions, dependencies, delivarables, timeline and milestones, account management

Production

Processes in production phase are often concurrent:

Stakeholders and audience analysis

Understanding stakeholders goals, designing for users: audience analysis, building personas.

Content inventory

Inventory of existing (if site redesign) and new content - breaking it down to logical units.

Information architecture, content analysis, and pages' ingredients

Matching content with audiences, and finding the right balance. Listing of all pages' ingredients and creating pages' wireframes - home, landing and child pages

Community building, interactivity weighing; static pages vs. blog-based content and social networking

Building community, social networking and other interactive features

Visual Design

UBC's Common Look and Feel or specific design

Textual content and media

Finalizing website' content. Usually done by client directly on the site.

Plugins and widgets development

If additional functionality is needed to support specific requirements - CTLT will enable existing plugins or build new one.

Putting it all together - QA/Soft Launch

Site behind the password but in a good shape for friendly critiques and comments. QA rounds and finalizing content.


Launch and post launch

Support, Training

Client was already exposed to site management - this is about formalizing support requirements and roles and providing any additional training

Post-mortem, revisiting, refining

Development framework and solutions

CTLT uses WordPress and MediaWiki as its core development framework. We know that there are many solutions out there, but we focus on these tools to enable us to provide reliable service to our clients. So far, our solutions based on these platforms include providing clients with various web spaces including blogs, courses, CMS powered websites, community portals, project management spaces, resource repositories, RSS aggregation sites, research spaces, photo galleries and others.

Please note that we collaborated with Public Affairs during the development of the new UBC Common Look and Feel (CLF), so we are able to help transition websites to this template where needed.

Hosting

CTLT hosts websites on the UBC IT VMware infrastructure to ensure the highest availability and performance. VM solutions provide outstanding hardware scaling, backup and disaster recovery solutions. Website run on a LAMP platform with content and business logic handled by WordPress MultiUser server’ administrators and content managers are authenticated by UBC’s single-sign-on application – CWL.

Content and Resource Management

As firm believers of Open Content and community resource sharing, we take pride in our ability to reuse and republish the web content. We pay special attention to providing ways to make web content and resources transportable and easy to republish. There are numerous hooks available to include other websites’ content within ours or push content stored on our servers to different websites and different web platforms.