Revised Voice website – The user interface of the Voice website has been updated based on comments from users. Now all sections of the newspaper, from articles to columns to news and events, are equally accessible. Read below for information on other great new features of the Voice website:
Athabasca University asks students for input in the design of their new site – See “Help AU To Improve Their Website” for more information on how you can shape the new Athabasca University web-space. Time is short, so have your responses in this week.
Nominate AU tutors and staff for excellence awards – See the information From AU section of this issue to find out how you can nominate your favourite tutor or an exceptional AU staff member for an excellence award. Help keep the AU staff and faculty strong by showing how much students value great educators and support staff. Remember, as isolated as you may feel as a distance student, tutors also need input on how they’re doing:
CAUS seeks new executive director – New grads in Edmonton might be interested in a great job opportunity from the Council of Alberta University Students:
Wanna Sound Off? – Readers have indicated that they really like the new Sounding Off column, but response lately has been poor. Maybe you have an idea for a topic that we should feature. Let me know.
REVISED THE VOICE MAGAZINE WEBSITE UP AND RUNNING
10 months after the launch of the Voice website, we have revised the site to improve accessibility and to reflect the changing nature of Voice content.
These revisions were planned from the start. We knew when creating the first site that we could not predict how students would use the site, how the content and layout of the Voice would evolve, and how ideas that worked great in theory would function in practice. The plan was to create a dynamic and flexible database system for storing the articles, and then revise and update the user interface over time to keep pace with the Voice’s growth and user needs.
About two months ago it was time to start the revisions, and the Voice contest was posted in order to obtain input from students. You responded with many suggestions, and told us a lot about how you use the site, what you are looking for, and how we could improve access to articles.
In February the name of the Voice was changed from The Voice Student’s Newspaper to The Voice Magazine, to reflect the unique nature of our publication and its focus on research, variety and the student community. The new name meant a new logo, and we have also designed a new colour scheme and updated the existing Voice graphics for a fresh look. The new site is cleaner, and more consistent.
NEW SECTIONS, NEW LAYOUT
Previously, the Articles section of the paper was the primary location for all articles, while the news and events section was not visited very much due to a slightly different layout. Columns and articles were posted together, making for a very long list where it was easy to miss things. There was little provision for highlighting important or timely articles, or for sorting items like classified ads into their own sections.
The new Voice website has several sections – Features, Articles, Columns, News, Letters, and Classifieds. Each section will feature the same navigation, and a menu bar up top will make switching from section to section very easy. Links for articles that you have already viewed will change colour, so you can easily track what you have read. The features section will include the weekly editorial, as well as one or two selected articles.
READING MADE EASIER
Some improvements have been made to how articles display to improve readability. Some users commented that reading on the old site required a lot of scrolling. The new site has a much wider article pane, and it will resize to a greater width for those who use full screen mode and a higher resolution. More text can fit on the screen, reducing scrolling. Another update that allows more text to display is that the story can now wrap around smaller graphics, instead of breaking before the graphic and continuing below.
READ AN ENTIRE BACK ISSUE ONLINE
The back issues of the Voice have been fully online since July of last year, but people found them less than convenient to access. Any article from a back issue could be found through a search, and you were able to bring up a listing of all of the articles from a given issue, but you then had to select them from the search list one at a time. You could not read an entire back issue in the same format as the current one. Now you can! Using the Archives Online search box, you can select any back issue from the list, and read it in its entirety just as you would a current issue.
PDF ARCHIVES SORTED FOR CONVENIENCE
As always, the Voice will continue to publish each week in both pdf and html format. The pdf archives will remain online indefinitely, but as the list is getting quite large we have broken it down by year. By the end of the year, we hope to have all of the old issues of the Voice, dating back to our first issue in 1993, available online in pdf format. After this is done, we’ll start putting these issues online in html format as well. Bear with us, it’s all coming soon:
AUTHOR’S PAGE IMPROVEMENTS
In the past, the author’s page was difficult to use. Not only were the regular writers listed, but also all of the Voice contributors including the university, Alberta Learning, and a number of other news organizations. Now the author’s page will only list the regular authors, and we’ll be posting bios – and perhaps photos – of each author so that you can get to know us a little better. The author’s section is in the About The Voice section, which also includes the general and writer’s policies [all updated for better readability and to reflect our current working policy] and our contact information.
Finally, the old multi-field search has been replaced by a universal search tool. While the old search made it quite simple to search for an article by the author name, having to maintain a database of every author – even one time contributors – was not efficient. The new search will look at the article title and text for whatever information you want to access. It’s simple and quick, and takes up less room on the page.
LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK
Take a look around and let us know what you think. If we have removed something from the site that you liked, tell us so that we know how you use our site and what features are most useful. If you have any questions or comments, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamra Ross Low
Editor in Chief
ARE YOU GRADUATING THIS JUNE?
I want to feature graduating AU students for the profiles section in May and June. If you are graduating this year, write to me and I will send you a profile form to fill out or we can arrange for a more in-depth interview. Remember how hard it was when you started at distance education? Well here is your chance to share your wisdom with new students.
Also, if you plan to attend graduation in Athabasca, consider taking some photos to send along to the Voice. Many AU students can’t make it to their convocation, so lets give them something that will help them feel like they were there. Anecdotes are welcome too. Photos used in my grad feature will be paid for! Write me for details.