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Web Communication WSU Spine 1.3.0 Released

WSU Spine 1.3.0 Released

The latest version of the WSU Spine framework has been released as 1.3.0.

As always, if you are using a manual build of the WSU Spine, we recommend updating as soon as possible.

To automatically receive the benefits of bug fixes like this, we recommend using the latest version of the Spine from the centrally hosted server. A full explanation of the hosted repository is in the project’s readme file.

Please visit the WSU Spine release page for a list of all changes made in this release. Thanks!

Releases: WSUWP Platform 1.3.5, WordPress 4.2.3

WordPress 4.2.3 was released today and the WSUWP Platform was immediately updated to match. There are no large changes, though several bug fixes and two security fixes were included. WordPress 4.3 is scheduled for August.

What follows here is the full release information for WSUWP Platform 1.3.5, from our open source project on GitHub.

This is the fourteenth production release of our open source WSUWP Platform project. The official tag of this release is 1.3.5.

A full comparison of changes is available is available. Here are the notes from the release:


  • WordPress 4.2.3
  • Support * addresses locally in addition to * This should be transitioned out to WSU Web Provisioner in a future release.
  • Add basic munin support locally. This is not fully developed.


  • Process user capabilities properly when moving a site between networks.

WSUWP Platform WordPress Plugin Updates – July 22, 2015

Howdy! We keep regular tabs on the plugins we include as part of the WSUWP Platform and frequently update as they are released. We haven’t yet talked about this as we do it, but today’s a great day to start.

Here’s what changed on the platform today:

  • Updated Akismet to 3.1.3. This was a small change that doesn’t affect our use of Akismet.
  • Updated WordPress SEO to 2.3.1. A full write-up on the changes in 2.3 is a good place to start in exploring and understanding changes.
  • Updated The Events Calendar to 3.11. A full write-up on these changes is also a good place to start in exploring changes. We’ve also updated Events Calendar Pro and Community Events to their matching 3.11 versions.
  • Updated Gravity Forms to A full write-up on these changes is available as well.
  • Our own WSU University Taxonomy has been updated to 0.3.0. A post on this will be up in the near future once we’re more comfortable with how things are going. Feel free to dig around for the changes though. 😃

If you have any questions about any of these plugins, please reach out. As always, we have open labs in ITB 2025 every Friday morning from 9:30am-11:30am. Everyone is welcome to stop by!

25-point website usability checklist

Want to know what visitors to your website are experiencing? It’s helpful to evaluate user experiences with usability studies or heuristic evaluations, but both require at least some investment of time and/or money. If you want quick insights on the cheap, consider using this simple 25-point-usability-checklist.

The checklist is a do-it-yourself solution for site evaluation. It lets you compare your site’s interface to industry-standard “rules of thumb” for usability. By seeing how your site stacks up against accepted principles, you will come away with a better understanding of its usability strengths and weaknesses. » More …

Spine Parent Theme 0.22.0 Released

Version 0.22.0 of the Spine Parent Theme has been released and deployed to the WSUWP Platform. This is actually the 9th release since the last announcement of 0.20.1. We’re still working on our workflow for release posts and many of the changes are back-end or very minor. All are included here.

  • Provide a filter (spine_get_campus_home_url) to override the campus home URL in child themes. (0.20.2)
  • Refactor handling of Open Sans fonts so that only one request to Google for font files is made vs the previous configuration where multiple requests may have been possible. (0.20.3)
  • When using the Bookmark theme, do not show the gray WSU background on the home page. (0.20.3)
  • The class section-wrapper is now attached to any section wrapper by default in addition to the wrapper class specified in section configuration. This will help target all wrapped sections in a page. (0.20.4)
  • Add filters and actions so that child themes can alter how sections are built. (0.21.0)
  • Add support for custom section IDs in each section’s configuration. (0.21.0)
  • Link article thumbnails to their respective article. Previously there was no link. (0.21.1)
  • On some imported content, featured images may not be available. In these cases, we should not output the HTML markup for handling these images unless an actual source exists. (0.21.2, 0.21.3, 0.21.4)

New Features in 0.22.0

Columns in the page builder have always had their titles output as H2 elements. In 0.22.0, these titles can be configured through the column’s configuration to display as H2, H3, or H4 header levels. Column titles will continue to default to H2.

In the notes for 0.20.1, we announced that background images could be assigned to sections with the caveat that JavaScript would be required for them to actually work. As of 0.22.0, this JavaScript runs in the theme by default. If you provide a full image URL for “Background Image” when configuring a section, this will be converted to an inline CSS background image property after page load. In the future we’ll provide support for mobile detection and image handling as well. For now, the same image will appear on both.

The foundations of clear navigation

An emerging design trend hides a website’s navigation when viewing the desktop version. The menu is activated by clicking on an icon which design insiders call the “hamburger”.

Hamburger menu icon

The hamburger is useful for mobile sites where the screen real estate is small since it hides the navigation until the visitor taps it. However, using it on desktop versions presents usability challenges. This is an example of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.


Time magazine home page
Time magazine’s desktop version of the home page. All major sections of the site are hidden behind the hamburger.


Time home page with menu
Clicking on the icon causes the navigation to slide out. Once a link is selected, the menu slides back and the main navigation sections are hidden from view once again.

» More …

Intentional Acts of Randomness

20 sided dice rolling.

We’ve provided a number of utility classes in the Spine Parent Theme, among them, oxymoronic though it may be: intentional randomness. There are surely other applications for these random classes, but perhaps the most common use case is to provide imagery or styles across a whole site without having to target every page specifically. So, for example, one could design five header graphics that are then displayed randomly on twenty pages. Here’s how it works. » More …

Styling around the WSU Spine with custom CSS

The WSU Spine was built to provide a consistent brand framework for use throughout the University. It exists in sort of a balancing act trying to allow great flexibility while maintaining a familiar look and feel for visitors to WSU web properties.

The Spine is structured as such:

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 5.46.58 PM

The primary site navigation and brand elements are inserted as part of the #spine container. All content appears in the main element.

It is important to keep this page structure in mind when styling a page through CSS. The Spine provides default styles for many different elements to establish the initial consistent look and feel. It also relies on some of these styles to properly display a consistent experience in the Spine area itself.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 6.00.36 PM

If you look at anchor (a) elements specifically, you’ll see a few default styles in the Spine. The above two are pulled directly from spine.css. All anchors are set by default to have no text decoration and to be crimson. Anchors inside the #spine container are set to be gray, but they retain the other default property applied to all anchors on the page of text-decoration: none.

A common custom style here is to add underlines or other properties with the intent of changing the anchor elements in the page content. When dealing with general elements such as anchor, some specificity is required to make sure only the intended styles are modified.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 5.58.06 PM

Prefixing the rule with main applies the intended style and leaves the #spine container as is. Not prefixing the container causes the Spine to lose its default display properties with unintended consequences.

If you’re targeting a specific page, let’s say this current post, you can still use main in addition to other body classes.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 6.07.53 PM

Anchors in the Spine will remain without underline, those in the main content area will have an underline, and those in the main content area of single pages will have a dashed underline and a lighter font.

Being aware of the Spine structure and targeting elements with the appropriate specificity will go a long way in maintaining the consistent look and feel that visitors expect. We’ll also continue working to provide more explicit defaults for crucial parts of the Spine to help prevent accidental overrides.

If you’d like to dive any deeper on this or have thoughts to share, we meet weekly on Friday mornings for open lab where this discussion would be perfect. 🙂

Web/Video accessibility slides

Presentation Slides

Round Robin presentation – Web, Video, Online Course Content

We will come back and have a more formal writeup about the presentation soon, but didn’t want to wait to post the presentation and video notes.

Video notes:

In Marketing our goal is to deliver a message to an audience

We spend hours crafting that message—but what if our audience cannot receive the message we are sending, or can’t understand it in the form we’ve sent it?

This can happen when our viewer has a disability…


6% of the U.S. population is considered visually impaired=21,000,000 people

Everything from blurred vision to color blindness to full blindness

Mandated by FCC in 2010—a portion of all programming must be accessible programming.

All PBS programming must be accessible to people with both visual and audio disabilities


Hunger Games with audio description:

Audio descriptive services can run between 40.00-60.00 a finished minute to produce


20.00-50.00/hr for an ASL provider, plus recording and editing costs.


13% of the U.S. population is considered hearing impaired=30,000,000 people

One of the fastest growing issues—Know why?

Aging population

Hearing loss due to damage from ear buds

TRANSCRIPTION—a word-for-word translation of audio content into a text file. Available for downloading prior to watching the video


Closed captioning software: Mac/Windows


Individual user 1200.00

to institutional user 15,000.00

10.00-15.00 per finished minute of video, plus a setup fee—usually 50.00-100.00

Version 2.01 of the Media Access Generator (MAGpie)– free, do-it-yourself captioning, subtitling and audio-description software for digital multimedia developed by the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)– is now available to download at

Placement—Lower thirds or bug

Rae Photo

Key points to remember about CC:

Use one or two lines of text.

Caption the exact wording of speakers, including slang and grammatical errors.

Caption sound effects that contribute to the understanding of the content.

Synchronize captions with the aural content.

Use a simple sans-serif font, such as Helvetica, and proportional spacing.

Ensure high contrast between the text and background.

Use both uppercase and lowercase letters.

Open Captioning vs. Closed Captioning—Open is always on-screen, Closed can be turned on/off by the viewer and requires either built in technology in the monitor or a separate break out box.

The key with any of this is start early—all these steps take time and cost money—they need to be considered in the pre-production and/or idea phase of any project.

WSU Spine 1.2.4 Released

The latest version of the WSU Spine framework has been released as 1.2.4.

As always, if you are using a manual build of the WSU Spine, we recommend updating as soon as possible.

To automatically receive the benefits of bug fixes like this, we recommend using the latest version of the Spine from the centrally hosted server. A full explanation of the hosted repository is in the project’s readme file.

Please visit the WSU Spine release page for a list of all changes made in this release. Thanks!