OIT Design Services, By The Numbers

The current fiscal year ends on June 30, and we’ve been hard at work closing out projects and preparing for a wave of new work starting July 1. This seems like a good time to share some numbers.

  • 29 – Sites in our Hosted Drupal service. We’re discontinuing Hosted Drupal in the coming fiscal year, so most of these clients are already in the process of transitioning to another service.
  • 40+ – Sites in our Hosted WordPress service. The exact number is a little bit in flux, but the number of sites in Hosted WordPress has more than doubled in the last year.
  • 690+ – Sites in our WordPress Blogs environment. The exact number changes on a day-to-day basis, but the number of sites in this service has more than doubled as well– there were about 340 sites this time last year.
  • 140 – Web hosting accounts through OIT, separate from the services listed above. We have maintenance and design clients with many of these sites as well.
  • 60+ – Number of sites in the DASA WordPress multisite. Jen wrote about that project last week, and we’re eager to use the multisite model with some of our other large clients.

Looking ahead to the next fiscal year, we have some big projects coming up, plus some exciting internal changes: new WordPress themes, new staff, and interns!

Project Profile: DASA

One of our biggest clients has always been the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (in all their past name variations) and their units. In case you’re not aware, there are a LOT of things that fall under DASA, probably more than you think. Years ago we first partnered with their Director of Technology Services, Leslie Dare, and a very rich – and busy! – partnership was born.

Leslie has always endeavored to provide her unit with excellent web options and support and over the years she’s worked with us through several solutions, most notably Drupal, and now WordPress. Late in 2014 Leslie and her colleague (co-conspirator) Justin Hammond, the Director of Marketing and Communications for DASA, started the bid process to get designs for a new DASA WordPress theme. Once those came in, and were vetted by Campus Communications, we took the designs and built them a theme. At the same time we worked on getting them set up in a multisite environment. Since Leslie had so many sites, with so many domains and sub-domains it was truly a challenge to untangle everything and get both the WordPress environment and the cPanel backend to resolve everything correctly. It was an excellent learning experience for all concerned.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 1.02.19 PMAfter many months of development, testing, troubleshooting, configuring, documenting, and training we are entering the final(-ish) phase of transition. The main DASA site launched February 27th and other sites began to transition into the environment with a child version of the main theme. Sites continue being moved; Leslie and Justin are assisting the various DASA units with questions and training them on WordPress generally and the DASA theme specifically. They have provided best practices for guidance and have their own “office hours” for people to come and ask questions as they finish migrating their site content and prepare for each “go-live.”

To date, DASA has more than 60 sites in their new environment, all with a shared repository of plugins and a consistent look-and-feel made possible by a branded and compliant theme. It’s been a great project and hopefully will be a model for similar consistency in other campus colleges and departments. It’s been such a delight to team up with Leslie and Justin for this project and we look forward to many more years of collaboration!

Start Blogging Today!

Next Wednesday, I will be teaching the first of our two Basics of WordPress classes for the summer session. Both classes’ waitlists are already full, so watch this space for announcements about our fall classes. And you’re always welcome to drop by at our WordPress Office Hours.

In our classes, we guide users through creating their own website through our free WordPress Blogs environment at wordpress.ncsu.edu. It’s a great introduction to the platform, and a safe space that many users use to experiment and get to know the tools that they will be using in another place. After all, it’s better to make mistakes on Brian’s Test Site than on a live site for your department, research group, or other campus unit.

But the WordPress Blogs service is available for more than just tinkering and training. It’s a robust platform for self-publication and self-promotion– especially at a major research institution like NC State.

Below, I’d like to make the case that not only is OIT Design’s WordPress Blogs environment a service you can use, it’s a service you should use. Every member of the NC State community owes it to themselves to start blogging today!

Continue reading

Hello, I’m David.

Greetings content consumers! My name is David Mueller and I’m the newest member of the OIT design team.  I’m just getting settled in my new digs here at the Hilsborough building, trying to keep new names and faces straight and working towards being able to find my way out of the basement in under 10 minutes. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

I’m a native son of Raleigh and an NCSU grad- CHASS ’98. No that’s not a typo. I did in fact graduate in the previous century. I’ve worked a technicolor laundry list of jobs in the vast expanse of time since I graduated but recently I’ve come back to State to take some courses in the MS in Technical Communication program- which is how, in a roundabout way, I came to work here at OIT. My hobbies include content migration, HTML hunt-and-peck and deleting the phrase “This Link Will Open in a New Window”.

I couldn’t hope to work with a friendlier crew- everyone has been so welcoming (and patient!) as I’ve been getting acclimated. The first major project I’ve been working on is drawing to a close and I’ve learned a great deal in just a few short weeks. I look forward to working with some of you as clients in the future and to helping find creative solutions to your ever-evolving web design needs.

Ok enough about me. For now at least. Like the cattle drovers used to say- there’s content needs migratin’.

WordPress Security Follow-up

All you WordPress fans should be aware of the recent problems WordPress has had with cross-site scripting vulnerabilities – I did a recap on the issue a couple weeks ago. Things have calmed down considerably but there’s still some who are unsettled with WordPress security so I wanted to take a moment to address this.

Brian and I recently participated in a Security Webinar and while we didn’t get any eye-opening information the facilitator did say one thing that stuck with me:

WordPress is both the most, and the least, secure content management system on the web.

For the record, I completely agree. A WordPress site created, thrown onto the web and then left to rot with no updates is very vulnerable. A WordPress site carefully built, with solid themes and plugins, configured to be secure, backed-up, with excellent web hosting, and frequent updates is as good as any site out there. Yes, there will always be new vulnerabilities discovered, new hacks attempted, and mistakes can be made – never assume that your site is 100% safe. But a WordPress site can – and should – be well-built and secure. And if you do that security problems should be exceptionally rare.

I’m going to supplement this with a link to some content we’ve been working on for the campus site, getontheweb.ncsu.edu. This is a new(-ish) site meant to help users identify the right campus web tools for them. It will also be a resource to answer frequently-asked questions and address other web issues: accessibility, domain and web policies for campus, and of course security. We’ve recently added some information about SSL (probably a blog post for another day) and have a lot of information and tips on WordPress Security. I urge you to check it out, and if you have the need or interest, do more research on the web and in the WordPress Codex. The Codex article on “Hardening WordPress” is an excellent place to start. Happy reading!