The “3-Click Rule” is a myth

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

This often-quoted maxim about the power of propaganda is attributed to some of history’s most notorious figures, its uncertain origin giving it a sort of meta irony.

Every few months, someone brings up the “3-Click Rule” to me. It’s the idea that some piece of information should not be more than three clicks from the home page. Usually they hear this as a recommendation from a speaker at a conference. Sometimes it comes from a more authoritative source, such as an accrediting agency, or is even presented as a legal requirement.

Like the quote above, no one knows who invented the 3-Click Rule, but it has been around for a very long time. It has been repeated by so many people in so many forums for so many years that it has become ingrained as a well-known truth. It sounds like a simple, reasonable rule to follow, but the truth is more complicated:

  1. The 3-Click Rule is not an actual rule of web design, not part of any official standard, and not backed up by data.
  2. The 3-Click Rule does not make information easier to find. Something can be three clicks from the home page and still difficult to locate.

Instead of following this arbitrary rule, we should have well-organized content, clear page titles and headings, and a logical navigational structure that makes it easier for people to find what they need.

For more information, read this article from the Nielsen Norman Group:
The 3-Click Rule for Navigation is False

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When everybody plays, we all win

Microsoft’s Super Bowl commercial highlights the impact of accessible technology. It’s about video games, not college websites, but it shows why this work matters. Let’s continue to make accessibility a priority so that everyone can be included.

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Video Captioning and Audio Descriptions

Augsburg, as part of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), has entered into a joint services agreement for closed captioning services with Automatic Sync Technologies. In this agreement, Augsburg receives a 12% discount from the educational organization rate, and a 20% discount compared to non-educational organizations.

In addition, Automatic Sync offers the ability to embed the video directly into Moodle or another web page, without having to upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo (although that is still an option).

Here is their pricing by service.

Captioning and Transcription: English, Spanish, or French Per Minute
Pay as you go. 4 business day turnaround $2.15
Prepay 600 hours $1.79
2-3 business day turnaround +$0.10
1 business day turnaround +$0.74
8 hour turnaround +$1.34
Tier Two* English captioning and transcription (see description below) $1.79

*Tier Two captioning and transcription utilizes a smaller pool of junior transcribers. Turnaround time depends on the amount of content, but will typically be between 4 and 10 business days. It is available only for english content, and there are no domain expertise options for this tier. Content with challenging subject matter or difficult audio is not suitable for Tier Two and must be submitted using one of our standard service tiers.

Audio Description Services Per Minute
English, 4 business day turnaround $8.50

 

For more information, or to request services, contact:

Kara Stark
Automatic Sync Technologies
(877) 278-7962 x715
kara@automaticsync.com

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Customize your accessibility settings in Siteimprove

Siteimprove’s Accessibility features are the main reason we’re using it, but as a content manager, not all of the issues it finds will apply to you. For that reason, I have arranged the issues into different categories, and put the ones you can fix in the category of Editor. Siteimprove will also show you AAA issues, but we only need to conform to AA standards (which include A).

Whenever you go to the Accessibility > Issues page in Siteimprove, make sure you filter the issues so that you only see the issues that apply to you.

  1. In the “Responsibility” tab, select “Editor”
  2. In the “Conformance level” tab, select “AA Conformance”

the Responsibility and Conformance filters are not set the Responsibility filter is set to "Editor" and Conformance filter is set to "AA"

This is what your screen should look like when you have those filters selected. What you will see is a much more manageable list of errors for you to address.

Now bookmark this page so you don’t have to change those filters every time.

For more on Siteimprove, see my previous post on Siteimprove.

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Siteimprove

Siteimprove

For the past several months, I have been using Siteimprove to find errors on Augsburg websites. Now we are opening up Siteimprove to all content managers. While Siteimprove helps us find website content errors, such as misspellings or broken links, our primary reason for investing in it is the powerful Accessibility tool, which provides us with a simple way to identify accessibility issues on our web pages. As a content manager, you are already responsible for making your content comply with accessibility standards, and correcting any errors on your web pages. Siteimprove is simply a way to help you find what needs to be fixed, and a way to create greater accountability for all of us involved in website content management.

How to access Siteimprove

Once I have set up your access, you can log into Siteimprove using your Augsburg credentials at go.augsburg.edu/siteimprove. Make sure to bookmark this link for easy access later.

Quality Assurance

In the “Quality Assurance” area, you will see broken links and misspellings that Siteimprove found your pages. Here’s a helpful tip: when fixing broken links, it might be more helpful to view the “Pages with Broken Links.” This is an option under “Links” in the left hand menu. See the “Quality Assurance” section of the Getting Started for New Users page.

Accessibility

In the Accessibility area, pay attention primarily to issues that are in the “Editor” category. These are the ones you will most likely be able to fix yourself. Errors in the “Webmaster” or “Developer” categories may require assistance from me. If you run into an error you cannot correct, it may be something I need to change in the website template. Contact me when that happens. See the “Accessibility” section of the Getting Started for New Users page.

Updating Siteimprove reports

Siteimprove scans our websites every five days, so this is how frequently the information in Siteimprove will update. Once you make a correction on the website, you do not need to take any action in Siteimprove. However, you do have the option to force Siteimprove to “recheck” an individual page immediately.

You will also receive reports by email. Make sure to immediately address any issues that show up in those reports

Training

Siteimprove has extensive online tutorials that. After you first log in, visit the Getting Started for New Users page to get an introduction. Spend some time looking around and familiarizing yourself with the system. Don’t worry, you can’t break anything!

I will also be doing some in-person help sessions for Siteimprove. See the schedule. These are optional, but I would encourage you to attend. I’ve scheduled a handful of trainings now as everyone is getting onboarded, and I plan to offer them periodically after that.

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Content Manager Changes to www.augsburg.edu

This email was sent to www.augsburg.edu content managers on September 14, 2017.

You are receiving this message because you are a content manager with access to edit one or more pages on www.augsburg.edu.

Right now, all departments have access to edit their own website content. This has worked well for some departments, but not for all. Some departments want to have this access and the responsibilities that come with it, and other departments do not.

As the university is under increased scrutiny for meeting accessibility standards, more is being required of you. We will soon set up content managers with access to Siteimprove, a tool we use to monitor for website errors. Each department would be responsible for monitoring and correcting accessibility issues (and other errors such as broken links and misspellings) using this tool.

With that in mind, we have decided to offer departments the option of handing website content management responsibilities back to Marketing. This would mean your department would not have a content manager with access to edit the website. Instead, the Marketing department would take on the responsibility of accessibility compliance as well as content updates.

This option comes with several benefits for your department:

  • Marketing will work with your department to get your website into an “evergreen” state, where the content is relatively static, without the need for frequent changes. We will work with you to determine the timing of this transition.
  • Marketing will take responsibility for keeping the website content compliant with accessibility standards.
  • Marketing will contact your department annually to determine what content updates are needed. In the interim between these annual reviews, you can still use our project request form to request changes throughout the year.
  • Marketing will optimize your department’s website for search engines, so that more prospective students will find you online, but will not make any changes to content without your department’s approval.

Please contact me if your department would like to do this. Call (x1157) or email with any questions.

Please note that no department is required to give up access. It is your option to retain or relinquish the content management responsibility for your department.

If you choose to retain your access, I will be contacting you soon about setting up your department’s content manager with access to Siteimprove.

Thank you for all your work in creating the best web experience for our visitors. And again, let me know if you have any questions.

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Widget Visibility

Prerequisite: Your sidebar / widget area is managed in the Customizer. Read my tutorial on the Customizer if you haven’t used it before.

Widgets in your sidebar appear on every page of your website by default. This is great, because it provides increased visibility for your most important calls to action. See the “Information Sessions” button on this page:

information-sessions

Click on the image to view the full-size version

This button links to the Events page on the same website. But when we go to that page, the button is still there even though we don’t need it. We’re already on that page!

information-sessions-2

Click on the image to view the full-size version

You may encounter situations like this, where you want a widget to appear on all pages except one, or maybe you want it on just one page and not all pages. You can make these customizations using the Visibility option on your widget:

widget-visibility

Click on the Visibility button and you will see the options to Show or Hide the widget based on page:

widget-visibility-2

Make sure you select a specific page.

And that’s it! Save your changes and verify the widget is behaving the way you want it to.

If you do not see the Visibility button on your widgets, let me know. I may need to make a change to your website in order for that button to show.

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The Customizer

Note: Some Internet Explorer users have experienced problems with the Customizer. Try using Firefox, Chrome, or Safari instead.

I will be going through old tutorials on my website, updating them to reflect the new website template. However, the only significant change in terms of managing websites is the implementation of the Customizer, which I will explain here. In the past, you went to the Widgets area to manage your sidebar widgets, and you went to the Options page to edit the contact information that displays in the upper right corner of the website. Now, you will edit both of these using the Customizer. You can access the Customizer by clicking Customize in the Admin bar:

customize

Or Customizer in the Admin menu:

customizer

This will open the Customizer. There you will see the options for both Contact Information and Widgets.

customizer

As you make changes, you will see the changes reflected in the preview window to the right. Note that this is only a preview. In order to save your changes you must click the “Save and Publish” button:

customize

You can leave the customizer by clicking the X in the upper left corner:

customize

If you try to close the customizer without saving your changes, it will prompt you to confirm that you want to leave without saving your changes:

customize

You can click “Stay” to remain in the customizer and continue editing or save your changes. Click “Leave” to leave the customizer without saving your changes.

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Finding page traffic numbers in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great tool, but in a previous post I explain why you have to be careful about drawing conclusions from mere traffic numbers. If you’re interested in seeing your website’s traffic numbers just for the heck of it, great. But avoid drawing hasty conclusions or taking hasty actions based on them. Talk to me first. If you want to see your traffic data, this post will explain how to find it. Continue reading

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