Women in Tech Profile: Alia Herrman

by Kristen Abell

One of the beautiful things about this series of posts is the fact that we can highlight women that don’t always get the spotlight – whether on our campuses or beyond. Today I hope to do just that in highlighting our web manager at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Alia Herrman.

I first met Alia back when I started at UMKC in 2007, and she was a graphic designer for our University Communications division working with the Women’s Center on our marketing. Since then, she has acquired all the skills necessary to be a pretty kick-ass webmaster (or mistress or, as I like to think of it, Web Wonder Woman – WWW), no small feat. Alia is my go-to whenever I have any question about websites, and she has yet to fail me in answering them.

I often say that there are two paths to becoming a WWW – either from the field of design or from the IT side. To be fair, these days there are those that come straight up the middle as web designers, but they haven’t quite taken over the field yet. One of the benefits of coming from the design side is an eye for usability – if a site is simple and looks good, it is often easy to use. I think this is a particular skill of Alia’s, as she frequently keeps in mind the needs of the user when designing or working with sites at our university. She has taken us through one progression of the website, and I anticipate she’ll see AT LEAST one more in her time here.

In addition to the challenges of mastering the web, Alia has taken the time to train a number of our other graphic designers to work with web designs. She also serves as a resource to those of us still tinkering with websites throughout the university. She leads our “web liaisons” team on campus to make sure all of our websites stay consistent with standards, and she finds ways to train and develop other WWWs (and WWMs) across campus to hone their skills with web design and maintenance.

In addition to her work as a Web Wonder Woman, Alia also enjoys gaming and is known (by me, at least) to be pretty wicked awesome.

Who are some of the unsung women in tech on your campus?

Women in Tech Profile: Alia Herrman

Linkage Love (Late)

by Kristen Abell

University Websites Venn
from xkcd – http://xkcd.com/773/

Tis the season in our division to start re-designing websites. And since I generally play an integral part in this process, I’ve been brushing up on my website standards (okay, not really – I pretty much have what I look for in a good website design memorized at this point, but it makes for a better post if I’ve been “brushing up.” Or something.), and I thought I’d share some great resources with other folks looking at web design – either from the design point of view or the client point of view.

And let’s just be clear – if you have a crappy website as a client, it’s as much your fault as it is your designer. Know what you want/need, and make sure you get it. No one blames the web designer (except maybe you).

So, to start, here’s a brief list of ten standards to abide by when re-designing a website. No, copy would not be number one on my list, but it is important. Usability might be one of the top things I can recommend when looking at a website design. Too many people try to use all the bells and whistles or focus on design only. Let me break it down for you – if a student can’t use your website, it doesn’t matter what cool tools you have or how pretty it is – it’s just a bad website at that point.

And speaking of usability, here’s a list of accessibility guidelines for websites that defines some best practices when designing them.

For those who are web designers or will regularly be working on websites, I’m loving the site for A List Apart – lots of great resources and sections on everything from code to usability, from design and content to mobile applications. Seriously good stuff here, people.

If you’re brand new to website design, or websites in general, give Code Academy a try – it’s a fun, interactive way to learn coding. You’ll be learning code before you know it – I promise!

And finally, it can be hard to know what’s good without understanding what a bad page looks like. For this, I highly recommend a gander around Web Pages That Suck – where there is so much suck, I don’t even know where to start. Except with what I think might possibly be the worst web page of all time. I cannot guarantee you’ll ever want to open your eyes again after looking at this site. You have been warned.

So what web design resources do you use when designing or working on websites?

Linkage Love (Late)