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TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters


Web Developer Master Contract List

Do you have web projects that need to be done but you don’t have the staff to do them?  Have you been thinking about submitting an RFP to have a website developed?  If so we have good news for you.

Several month ago Marketing & Communications submitted an RFP to create a pool of vendors to be granted a master contract for web development.  We, along with members of the GoWeb team, evaluated the submissions and came up with a list of vendors who we believe will do high quality work at a reasonable price.  University Purchasing has now gotten everything approved and into the BAM system, so we are ready to announce the pool to the campus community.

Having these master contracts in place means that if you have a web project you can contract directly with any of the vendors in the pool for any project without having to go through the RFP process.  The list and a brief description of each firm’s specialties is located at


If you have questions or would like more information about one of the vendors on the list please let me know.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 Multimedia No Comments

Presentation – Mobile Development

Yesterday I participated in a presentation on Mobile Web Development for the university ProComm group.  Thank you to them for the opportunity and for you for listening. I hope it will encourage both use and development in the campus web presence.

For those of you interested, I have put my presentation slides online.

A few questions that were raised that weren’t covered in the presentation:

Will you sniff and redirect mobile traffic to the mobile site?
Emphatically, no.  I think this is a bad idea.  Modern phones are capable of rendering the full site pretty well. I do not condone hijacking a user’s connection and telling them what they want to see.  As we covered in the presentation, the mobile site and a full site have different content and are for different audiences.  If somebody wants to get information from the full site we should let them.  That being said, the new redesign of will make a link to the mobile site very clear so that if somebody does visit the full site they can quickly and easily see that we have a mobile site and go there if they so choose.

Have you incorporated HTML 5 into the mobile site?
We have not. The current site was actually designed for backward compatibility even with older WAP phones.  I also doubt that we will include it in the next generation of the site.  I do recognize that it can do some great things and that it will make for a revolution in web design, but currently it is not a complete specification and has not been finalized by the W3C.  We might nibble around the edges of some of the core elements that likely won’t change, but I’m not ready yet to fully take the plunge and convert all the way.

Do you have plans to put Code Maroon or other emergency information on the site?
Yes, we do anticipate adding this information on the front page.  This will include other non-emergency but still need-to-know information such as snow day closures and such.

What kind of marketing have you done to increase awareness?
I will add a bit to what Diane said when this question was addressed to her.  As well as the cards that she showed you, we are also working with our site partners to help get the word out.  This makes sense because they are the owners of the content that we all want advertised.  So Transportation Services, for example, has started running advertisements for on their marquis screens.  Dining services is also joining in and will be printing the URL on table tents, menus, and in the eating establishments.  This type of advertising is more effective than anything we can do on our own.  We saw traffic to the site double, for example, the day after the bus marquis started running.

If I forgot one of the questions please forgive me and send me a reminder note.  The door is always open for new questions as well so send anything you want to know and we’ll be happy to answer.

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Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 Mobile Web, Multimedia No Comments

New Multimedia Page

As some of you may have heard already, we have launched our new and improved Multimedia Page.  This site is the hub for all things multimedia for Texas A&M: screensavers, wallpapers, firefox personas, photos, videos, etc.

Aggie Multimedia Homepage

AggieMedia Website Homepage

We wanted this site to stand out from our other pages and use it as an outlet for trying new and inventive approaches to design that cannot be done on www.  Before designing the site, I did research on web design trends for 2010, and found that hand drawn elements and large, bold headers are going to be popular this year (this explains why you may have seen me doodling on paper taped to the windows of Bizzell Hall last month).  I used these elements throughout the site along with lighter colors that stray away from the traditional A&M maroon and tan.  Most of the hand drawn doodles are also links to other pages, one of them being “snapshots of campus” which is a different way to approach the stereotypical campus slideshow.

The look of the site is meant to be eye catching and fun for future and current students, and we are already getting a lot of positive buzz about it on facebook and twitter!

So check it out!

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Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 design, Multimedia, Visual Identity 2 Comments

New: Mobile Photos –

So you had fun over spring break?… I beg to differ. I got to sit down on the laptop and knock out some really fun code, finalizing version one of the new photos application on If you haven’t discovered A&M photos on Flickr I suggest you pick up a phone or visit it on your computer because the content is always flowing. The Division of Marketing & Communications has done a great job of keeping recent A&M Photos available to the public with outstanding descriptions and tags. Even while I was in the process of developing this application I managed to ‘get lost’ in the limitless amount of content.

In version one, you will see two primary viewing types, albums and tags. Using these two types, you can filter literally hundreds of photos, from campus construction photos, photos of our new President Dr. Bowen Loftin, and even our First Lady, Revellie VIII.

Thanks to Flickr’s robust API, I was able to make this content mobile friendly. Individual photos have ‘full views’ when clicked so you can even save and use each photo as a phone background. In version two I will be looking into adding a custom search feature and map tags making campus tours even easier. As always, we are looking to hear more from you the user. If you have any ideas please write us, Thanks for tuning in!


It’s time for “It’s Time”

The "It's Time for Texas A&M" campaign finally gets a home

As Erick noted a few posts back, we’ve done some updating to our “Campus viewpoint” on the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s website. Well as part of our redo on that, we’re going to be doing some extra marketing with them using some of our recent ads.

The ad points them to the “inside story” on a number of topics (you might have seen ads for Dr. Berry, Dr. Liu, Dr. Lee, TAMU-Q, and the like) so we needed a quick little mini site. However, I was also looking for an opportunity to try something a little different.

So, we went out and built “” as a down and dirty micro site to house the elements and assets of the It’s Time campaign. I’ve been wanting to find a more robust way of doing slideshows/galleries and so I found the jQuery-based “Galleriffic” slideshow.

What I like about the way the Galleriffic developer implemented his JS gallery and CSS is that he realizes that many people in a slideshow/lightbox want the ability to add significant HTML content like links, lists, bullet points and copy. This way, I was able to render a fully realized slideshow with copy and links in a short period of time.

Ultimately, the gallery just represents the start as I think we’re going to add on to the microsite to provide a point of reference and support for those wanting to start incorporating the It’s Time theme into their web and print materials. It will have assets (like logos and templates), examples, and ways to contact DMC folks if you are wanting to create ads like the ones displayed in the It’s Time gallery.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010 Branding, Multimedia No Comments

Flash fun and new media needs

What’s the point of having access to a blog if you can’t use it to further your own ends?

Well, the short of it is we are looking to hire a “Communications Specialist”. However, don’t let the name/title fool you. We’re really looking for someone with experience in designing/developing new media. We’re talking graphic interface/template design, interactive microsites and more.

So while skills with Photoshop and Web design are important, this person needs to have a good grasp of developing Flash and other interactive content (video, etc.).

There are a number of projects that we have where you can jump in feet first and do some fun stuff. Our ideas/plans/projects range from target audience microsites (future students, faculty, community) to extending the brand (interactive/online advertising and display of “It’s Time for Texas A&M”) to virtualizing A&M (outdoor virtual campus and tours).

Of course these are just our own ideas; we’re expecting this person to bring fresh ideas. What makes this job appealing is that while there are number of expectations that go along with the position, the right person can grow/make their job into whatever they want. With expanding social media and online options, there’s a lot of potential.

So if you’ve got the skills and are looking to put them to work, then we’ve got the job for you.

The position (NOV#100443) is currently open on the TAMUjobs site if you are interested or feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 Miscellaneous, Multimedia No Comments

iTunes U revamp

We’ve just finished updating the iTunes U site as well as the Texas A&M store on iTunes U. The store gets new graphics and a consistent set of branding for all of the albums and a cleaner, lighter look.The site gets a new layout and added functionality as we try to bring more of what’s in iTunes U to the site for people to see. We’re starting with the top downloads, but hopefully will be able to pull out other feeds of titles and topic areas.

But what the new site does is set a foundation of design for one of the projects on our slate. It’s tentatively titled “Podcast Central” (I wanted to use “Rasputin” but I found out that Favreau and Co. are using that codename for Iron Man 2), but it would be a central point to feed in podcasts from different places and venues. This would allow us to highlight videos from iTunes U, our and other A&M youTube sites and playlists, MediaMatrix feeds, KAMU streams, departmental podcast RSS feeds and more — and have it appear and be highlighted on this site.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 Multimedia, Podcasting No Comments

iTunes U Republished

I’ll steal a little of John and Diane’s thunder by announcing now that the new iTunesU website is online.  This version offers a little more functionality than the previous site.  It uses RSS feeds to draw out some of the popular content so that you can see some of what’s there before opening the iTunes application and opening the store.

In a similar vein, the entire Texas A&M section of the iTune store has been updated.  It has a much fresher, more open feel, giving you easier access to some great content.  More to come from John…

Monday, June 29th, 2009 Multimedia, Ongoing Projects No Comments

YouTube channel changes

For those of us who meddle and work with YouTube, the Google/YouTube developers have been working on an overhaul of the “channels” . They’ve cleaned it up quite a bit and have added the opportunity to customize a little bit more.

You can see the new layout in our Texas A&M channel, and you’ll notice how it has changed with the channel info now being below the video and playlists running down the side. It is considerably cleaner looking b/c they have streamlined the options. I like the ability to create your own “theme” for the channel; this allows for greater flexibility to change the look and yet still keep a base customized theme to work from. Also, because of the type of channel we have, we are given a little more flexibility with graphics and branding on the page.

Even though they launched the new look/admin less than a month ago, anyone who has a channel can opt-in. And since they are still in “beta” (which in Google time could be years), you can switch to the beta, and if it’s not what you’re wanting/liking, you can switch back.

More information or to keep up with the changes is available on the YouTube Channels Beta blog.

By the way, since we are using this YouTube channel as a point of entry to A&M and A&M vids, if you’ve got a YT account you’re using, let us know so that we can begin building our subscription/features plan to include more of the campus YT community on this channel.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 Multimedia, Podcasting, Social Media 4 Comments

University Podcasting

Last Friday we took our first step toward creating a unifying Podcasting Central for campus. We revamped and republished the Do You Wonder? website into what will be the beginnings of a site that will bring podcasts from around campus into one common area where they can be browsed and played. The eventual end product will contain similar modules from YouTube, iTunesU, Media Matrix, and from offices around campus. Many of you have probably seen the announcement from YouTube last week about creating EDU channels; we have already applied and hope to take advantage of this partnership program.

In order to create this modularity and interoperability, RSS feeds will be an important element binding them all together. The new Do You Wonder? uses YouTube as a back-end and administrative platform. Favorites and Playlists hold the pool of videos and categorize them, and then RSS feeds from each allow us to bring those links to the web site. We are able to constantly add new videos to the mix through subscribing to particular search terms on YouTube and marking interesting ones as a favorite.

The original Do You Wonder? site was designed to display user-generated content from our fans and followers. While we will continue to do this, we see the future of the site shifting more toward university generated content. If you would like to see your videos displayed on the site simply upload them to YouTube and tag them as ‘doyouwonder,’ and our administrative mechanisms will do the rest.  BTW, don’t forget about accessibility!  YouTube now allows users to upload captioning with their videos.

Our next installment will be an upgrade of the iTunes U website and the iTunes store. John is working on the graphics and layout now so with luck it won’t be long…

Monday, March 30th, 2009 Multimedia, Podcasting No Comments