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Major website update approaching

edited September 2014 in onCourse web releases
For the last 18 months, the ish development team have been hard at work on a major update to the website engine for onCourse. We are coming to an end of this work now and have some exciting announcements for all our onCourse customers who host their website under onCourse. In particular we have two major changes visible to your customers:

* A brand new search backend for searches within your site which will be faster and give the user results better tailored to what they are looking for. For example search text found in the course title will be higher up the list of results than the same text found buried in the body copy of the course description. And it will recognise phrases and words close to each other, partial words, synonyms and more. This is the sort of searching you come to expect from a search tool like Google. And now onCourse...

* New, cleaner html for all the websites. This will make it easier to change styling as well as ensuring that pages load quickly (css is now combined and compressed) and the site will work better on mobile phones, tablets, etc. We are also testing to ensure all sites work nicely in IE9 and new versions of Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

As part of this process, we have engaged a designer to rebuild all the html and css. This designer is working through all our onCourse customer sites right now, one at a time. What this means to you:

* if you don't have an onCourse website, then you can only watch from the sidelines :-)
* if you are happy with your site as it is, then do nothing and we'll let you know when your updated site will go live. There will be very minimal interruption to the online enrolments during this process.
* if you have wanted to make some small design changes to your site, please get in touch with us as soon as possible about your needs.

All of the above will be done at no additional cost for all our onCourse customers. If you want more significant design changes, that is possible too: let us know what you need and we'll discuss them.


  • Nice work with the search results change, although I fear our customers are often too arrogant and ignorant to appreciate the work that goes into this sort of thing. Probably me too, sometimes. All the same I think the changes, though subtle, will be appreciated by The Great Unwashed.

    Exactly what does the 'cleaner html' mean? Will it be a functional streamlining hidden by the interface, or does this suggest that sites will have some leeway on their website content and styling outside of the existing CMS? Or will it only be noticed by the worker bees at ish as they toil away... on flowers... no, wait - I should have chosen a better metaphor.

    Looking forward to the upgrades.
  • Danny

    Although it has been a massive amount of work, we will be happiest if users don't notice the search changes at all. That is, search should "just work" and they should get the results they want without any understanding of why.

    "Cleaner html" (and css) is about making it easier for designers to modify the design of the site. For example, we have reduced some sites from over 1200 lines of css to about 250 lines (plus a bunch of libraries which are neatly hidden). We use things like scss ( to do that, but that isn't something you'll see. Cleaner html and css will also produce better results on mobile devices, make the page load faster and even give you better SEO (if Google is able to better read the page).
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