The Seattle Collegian website

Image: Seattle Collegian homepage

News Publisher | Improve, Support | 2020 – 2021, 1.5 years | Website Link

Project Overview: 

The Seattle Collegian is a student-run newspaper of Seattle Central College. The website was launched in 2018. I joined the team in 2020 and was the first Web Manager to systemize web manager roles, make tutorials, reduced the site weight by 50%, and improve user experience. I also analyzed web analytics, suggested article trends, and trained the new Web Manager.


Table of Content:


Goals:

The website was outdated, cluttered, and not very user-friendly. There was also no workflow,  standard procedures, web documents, or tutorials to follow. Therefore, I set out the following goals to improve both the website and the Web Manager’s workflow.

  • Web security: Update all security patches for all web components, e.g. themes, plugins, PHP versions, etc.
  • Web sustainability and performance: Optimize images to reduce media size and improve load time.
  • Documentation: Systemize Web Manager training and set standards for the role.

Main tools & plugins:

WordPress,Open-source Content Management System (CMS)

Google Analytics,A software that tracks website traffic

Notion,A project management software

Mission News Child (Pro),A news theme that is easily customizable and responsive

Learn more about each tool.

Actions Taken:

  • Updated web components for security
    • Backed up the website before doing the major updates to reduce the risk of losing the website if something went wrong. 
    • Updated all the themes, plugins, WordPress versions, and PHP versions.
    • Disabled inactive users to prevent unnecessary logins.
  • Improved web sustainability by decluttering and optimization 
    • Deleted unused plugins, themes, images, and pages.
    • Disabled auto-play cover pictures and kept all images in appropriate sizes, compressed, and lazy-loaded
    • Cached files with W3 Total Cache to speed up load time.
  • Created training tutorials and documents for Web Managers and the team 
    • Built documents and video tutorials that covered routine and specific tasks for Web Manager and troubleshooting for common issues.
    • Onboarded the new Web Manager and supervised him in onboarding other members.
    • Made multiple guides to simplify the team workflow, e.g. how to connect a Gmail account with the Collegian email account, how to prepare images for an article, how to submit information for an author box, how to publish an article, etc.
  • Improved web usability and user experience
    • Installed SiteSpeaker on news articles to allow readers to listen to the articles. 
    • Embedded an author box on each article to create a connection between the writers and the readers. 

Results:

  • More secure, updated website
    • The website has become more secure, had backups, and has been updated more regularly. 
  • More sustainable, speedy, and user-friendly website
    • By optimizing images, the website’s weight was reduced by 50%; from around 15GB to 7.4GB. File caching also helps speed up the load time.
    • The website is more user-centered. It has more helpful menu items that help the users browse. 
    • The author box drives more engagement between the writers and readers. According to web analytics, readers often click the links on the box to the writers’ websites or social accounts to learn more about them.
Image: Improved menu items to simplify browsing
Above: Improved menu items to simplify browsing
Image: Some pages of Seattle Collegian
Above: Some pages of Seattle Collegian
  • Better training and documentation 
    • Web Managers now have a standardized training system to follow. Rather than spending time in live training; they can learn at their own pace through video tutorials and modular documents. 
    • The training system and documents can be updated for future use.
Image: Web Manager training document on Notion
Above: Web Manager training document on Notion (View on Notion)

Testimonial:

“As Web Manager for the Seattle Collegian, Gift has truly lived up to her name. When we first made the offer of employment to her, we had not had the opportunity to meet in person due to the pandemic and the need to work remotely. As with many of the other staff members onboarded in 2020, it was hard to know what to expect or how Gift would fare learning the ropes from a distance, but I had high hopes that she would do well and find her rhythm.

Rather than exhibiting any signs of difficulty in adjusting to her role, Gift instead jumped right in and set the bar for the Web Manager position higher than any of her predecessors have managed to attain. Gift rose to the occasion and then shattered my expectations time and again, and I cannot extol her praises enough. She has proven herself to be talented, skilled, prepared, thorough, attentive, adaptable, considerate, reliable, communicative, responsible, professional, and an all-around pleasure to work with. She has a great attitude and a way of anticipating the needs of the organization before anyone else, a combination that has made her a more than welcome addition to our professional family. She has been nothing short of invaluable to me and to the functioning of our website, and I highly recommend her work without question or reservation.”

Astro Pittman – Former Editor-in-Chief at The Seattle Collegian