Roadblocks for big news

This week's Higgs search update seminar was an amazing day for the experiments and it was wonderful to see the interest from the media and the wider public in fundamental physics research that this generated. It was also a rare opportunity for us to try out a new 'roadblock' approach for big announcements that we have been working on. The roadblock is the highest level of significance that we will very occasionally apply to choice announcements on the new CERN core website: an announcement that is so important that it justifies interrupting the entire homepage experience:

Language support in the new CERN website

There are many possible ways that we could support multiple languages in our new website, and unfortunately each one of them has its drawbacks. This is a subject I have been hesitating to bring up for a while: language is such an emotive issue and discussions on how to best serve content to audiences in different languages are always difficult.

I'm going to put a stake in the ground; I will explain the language support pattern I'm thinking of for the new CERN website to initiate this debate. I would welcome your thoughts and feedback.

New core website: final alpha sprint

We released the first alpha back in February, and a lot has happened behind the scenes since then. The bulk of this work has been to re-architecture the base theme layer. If we were building a house this would represent our foundation. Having a solid base on which to build is essential. To stretch the house-building metaphor a bit further: we've got most of the plumbing and electrics done - even the windows are in - but we're a long way from painting the skirting boards or selecting the right colour throw for the new sofa!

A coherent communications strategy for CERN

I have been closely involved with the web redesign process over the past year and I want to explain how the upcoming changes to CERN's websites fit in with the broader communications landscape.

Last October I presented a communications strategy to the extended directorate that outlines the strategic vision for CERN's official communications activities over the next four years. The strategy was the product of many months of consultation with key stakeholders by the communications group and was informed by independent research conducted by external partners, as well as a peer review process led by the InterAction collaboration. Although the document has not yet been approved by the directorate, the spirit of the strategy guides my group's activities and I feel that it is important that others with whom we work have access to it.

The strategy is now available online here:

A unified experience online: CERN toolbar to start appearing across CERN web

The grey strip you see at the top of the screen - we call it the CERN toolbar - is designed to be a unifying element that identifies websites as belonging to the CERN web and provides key functions such as a link to the CERN home page, sign in and search. At the moment it is built as a Drupal module, but we are working with our colleagues in Web Services to make this more widely available across other, non-Drupal, websites too. The aim is to eventually have the CERN toolbar as a uniform element across as many CERN web properties as possible.

Last week's code sprint

We had a really productive time at the Mark Boulton Design studio last week. In a nutshell, here's what we did:

  • Designed a variety of states for the public homepage
  • Built a timeline application
  • Established a new, scalable architecture for theming
  • Worked on responsive image switching
  • Built a new directory of CERN websites
  • Laid the groundwork for a news section targeted at CERN people
  • Moved to a new CSS authoring framework


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