Brunel’s Placement and Careers Centre asked us — The Manifesto Group, who have worked with them for several years — to help develop a simple, low-cost, easy to use way of showcasing videos as part of their PMI2-funded project.
Looking at the project’s requirements, we thought that rather than develop an entirely new piece of software, we would use the WordPress http://www.wordpress.org blogging platform as the basis for the project. The advantages of WordPress are that it is free (there is no licence fee for the software), it’s open-source (meaning anyone can modify and extend it), and it’s supported by most internet hosting providers meaning it’s easy to set up.
This is the way that workglobal works.
We manage the internet hosting for workglobal.org. Each careers service that would like to join workglobal is provided with their own subdomain (e.g. brunel.workglobal.org) separate from other subdomains. Each subdomain runs its own version of WordPress, meaning that each version of workglobal can be individually customised.
A template in WordPress is called a theme, and we have chosen a commercially-developed theme called Vidley by a company called Press75, as our basis. The Vidley theme provides the basic elements of workglobal, such as the page layouts, menus and video support. In turn, all of these elements use the basic features that WordPress provides, like the posting of stories.
The second part of workglobal is a place to host videos. We decided that for flexibility and speed, we wouldn’t host videos at workglobal.org, and instead chose WordPress’ own video hosting platform VideoPress. Although you are free to use almost any kind of video-hosting solution — such as YouTube or Vimeo — we chose VideoPress because it is capable of streaming very large videos very quickly, and allows you to use your videos in lots of different formats — for example in iTunes or other blogs.
Unless you want to use a service like YouTube or Vimeo, we suggest that you create your own VideoPress account. Although VideoPress is a paid service, we think that because it can share video in many formats (in HD, for iTunes and up to 2GB) it’s a better solution than other free services. VideoPress accounts need a (free) WordPress.com account and you simply add VideoPress as a paid subscription. If you would like us to organise that for you and bill you, please let us know.
workglobal.org allows you to add videos and accompanying text. In WordPress you write posts that are assigned to categories and can have descriptive tags, along with a featured image and an attached video.
There are several ways to organise posts. In brunel.workglobal.org, we have used countries as categories, so that posts are grouped together in categories called ‘Korea’, ‘Ghana’ or ‘India’ etc. You may not wish to do this: instead you might want to group posts by subject (‘Accounting’, ‘Engineering’, ‘Design’ etc), or by region (‘Asia-Pacific’, ‘Europe’, North America’). There are many ways that posts can be organised and you choice will depend on how you want readers to explore your content. The category structure you choose is important as this will determine how posts are shown in workglobal. The front page of workglobal has two main elements: a carousel that shows a selection of videos and excerpts that link to posts; and a set of thumbnails of selected categories. These options, along with others, can be set in the Appearance->Theme Options menu. We suggest you plan carefully the way you want readers to explore your content before you start adding it to workglobal.
One of the advantages of WordPress is that sites built using it can be infinitely customised. Several simple customisation options are built-in to the Vidley theme we are using for workglobal and these can be accessed in the Appearance->Theme Options panel. These include adding a custom logo, changing background and font colours, adding google analytics to track visitor stats and adding an advert in the header. More complex customisation is also possible, but we suggest that unless you have lots of WordPress expertise you avoid doing this, because even minor changes can make WordPress behave erratically. As usual with web-based services, customisations should be planned ahead of time, and tested before being made live.
- graphic design and brand: incorporate your university brand into the workglobal logo and page design (for example you might want the site design to reflect corporate colours or devices)
- create banner ads that can sit inside workglobal (e.g. for courses, programmes or services)
- change the category structure for more complex content — for example, having stories appear in a set of interrelated categories like region, subject and employer so that more complex categorisation is possible
- add new plugins that add new functionality to WordPress, for example to add feeds from other sites, or features like event calendars
- integrate social media services like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and others into your workglobal site
- develop your workglobal site for mobile access on smartphone and tablets
As workglobal develops, we will be rolling out new features that make the most of network of university careers services working together to drive forward the employability agenda.