Archive for the ‘Home Page’ Category

The new WikiStudent is now live

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

The new WikiStudent, for Unisa students, went live a couple of weeks ago. The URL:

We need Unisa students to become editors to help fill in the content - see the new site for how to join.

This blog is no longer being updated. You can browse the archives if you’re interested in how WikiStudent was re-built.

Tester # 1!

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

This morning I asked a Unisa student (someone I work with, doing his honours in linguistics) to have a look at the home page and give his impressions.

The following pic is what he saw (please excuse the spacing and stuff… this is only a skeleton draft!)
Home page

Here’s what Tester # 1 said:

* He liked the satellite map and wanted to zoom in even more, and go to the library :-D

* He had to think a bit about what the “Recent edits” links were about, and didn’t know what the image of the textbook was. Reason: these were modules he wasn’t taking and it was a textbook he didn’t recognise. After a few seconds he recognised the Unisa module code format and correctly guessed what was going on.

* He liked the idea of the poll, but didn’t even read the question. Don’t worry, I’ll choose another design with a larger font.

* Surprise: He thought the category tag cloud should appear higher up, not at the bottom of the page, because you had to scroll in order to see it. He said that seeing the subject names (Computer science, Law… Linguistics!) made it more obvious what the site was about, so I’ve gone ahead and put it smack bang in the middle of the page, as you can see. I think I originally thought of putting it at the bottom because that’s where tag clouds are often found on websites. It’s so good to get an outsider’s opinion!

Bloggers = Editors?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The home page is actually almost complete! Just one more extension to go. Or maybe two… Here’s an idea I’ve just come up with:

After working on the news feed and student jobs feed, and after wondering how to fill up the empty space at the bottom of the home page, I was thinking it might be nice to have a feed of links to recent blog posts by WikiStudent editors.

If you think about it, Unisa students who blog are writers, and more likely to become editors for WikiStudent. In return for their contributions to the site, it might be a nice gesture to link to their blogs from the home page? Maybe something like the latest post from 5 different WS bloggers…

This means that in the sign-up form I’ll have to include a question: “Do you have a blog?” and if you answer yes, I’ll have to ask if you want it to appear in the home page feed. The home page gets an enormous amount of hits. There will be a hit counter - it comes by default with MediaWiki, though Wikipedia hide theirs - so you will have an idea of how many click-throughs you might get.

News feed

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Last night I implemented the MediaWiki News extension. In short, this displays a mini-feed of the most recent wiki edits on the home page. (I’ve limited it to only pages categorised under “Unisa Modules”, only the 15 most recent modules, and only non-minor edits).

This is what it looks like:

news feed

I think it is important for the following reasons:

  1. It shows which modules have been recently updated and are worth visiting.
  2. The date stamp shows first-time visitors that the site is ‘alive’ and current.
  3. It provides a means for jumping straight to a module page, and is therefore the quickest way to get where you want to be.

Tag cloud looking good!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

A while ago I mentioned wanting to create a tag cloud for the home page, linking to subjects on the wiki. Well, I’ve finally implemented the MediaWiki CategoryCloud extension and here’s a screenshot of the actual tag cloud, containing real-live data:


The big words have more Unisa modules categorised under them than the smaller ones. Here is the code I needed to edit in the wiki after installing the extension:

<category-cloud category=”Unisa_Modules” minsize=”100″ maxsize=”200″></category-cloud>

I also added more padding between words by modifying the style sheet. Simple, really!