Intellectual Property Colloquium Podcast: Suggestions

This is a message to the guys behind the IP Colloquium Podcast, an Audio Podcast about Intellectual Property Law, hosted by Doug Lichtman, Scholar in Residence at the UCLA School of Law, and brought to us by the UCLA School of Law, the law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP and the Intellectual Property Symposium. I hope you guys have your ears on!  If you’re an attorney, the IP Colloquium Podcast can be used as CLE Credit.

First of all, Thanks for the IP Colloquium Podcast.  This is great stuff so far.

I wanted to point out a few things about your WebSite that are annoying for ‘Power-Users’ like me and/or that are standing in your own way.

  1. Flash is not the way to go.  Flash Websites are less accessible than sites that display HTML. There are many reasons why.  Here are a few:
    • Navigation-Buttons or Links within Flash sites don’t allow right-click functions such as “Open Link In A New Window/Tab,” which people who use the Web well use often.
    • Flash Content is Less Machine-Readable (for instance, by robots like Search Crawlers), Less Universally Semantic, Less Friendly to Alternate Viewing (Like Text-Only Browsing or Viewing of the Page-Source).  The reason is that the content is hidden within the Flash animation objects.  Essentially, Flash sites are about as Machine-Readable as pictures of text are, probably less.  You want to be found in Search Results, right?
    • Flash sites require an extra browser plugin which is sometimes a barrier for people on alternate systems or that aren’t very technically savvy.  Barriers aren’t a good thing.
    • The Text within your site cannot be copied from the browser window, making it harder for people to quote you etc.  I had to actually look at Doug Lichtman’s name etc to post this entry.  Sure hinders my abilty to blog about you guys.
    • Since your site is Flash, updating it is surely more complicated than it would be if you were using some sort of Content Management System (CMS), like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc. This is also true for making minor ‘look-n-feel’ changes. When your design elements are separate from your content, you have a lot more flexibility if you decide you don’t like some font or color etc.  Again, HTML and CSS based sites are superior for this reason.
  2. You do not have an RSS/Atom Link in your Site’s HTML Head.  This is easy to do and is what is expected of modern sites that are content sources. All you need to do is put the following line in the top of your HTML: <link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” href=”http://ipcolloquium.com/rssfeed.xml” /> …This is what makes the little RSS icon/indicator show up in the URL field in FireFox/Safari/Etc, which is expected from sites that are Syndicating content via the web (like you are). 
  3. Your Feed is not set up properly for “Enclosures” which is what makes Podcasting tick.  Perhaps the iTunes Subscribe link you give out is being processed by FeedBurner or something, but I can’t tell because the site is Flash so I can’t “Copy Link…”  …Really, if you moved to WordPress, you could use any number of podcasting plugins that will take care of all the dirty work of making your feed Standards-Compliant, iTunes-Ready and user-friendly.  If you don’t want to go down that road, you should at least consider running your feed through FeedBurner and then linking to that feed rather than the “/rssfeed.xml” one.  This way, the Audio files show up in your feed properly as ‘enclosures,’ and your feed will work in all feed-readers and ‘pod-catchers.’  
  4. It’s also mildly annoying to have links on your site automatically open new windows.  It’s just one of those things that gets on people’s nerves.  If we want a new window or tab, we’ll open one.

I really think you guys should consider a quick re-build using a more standards-compliant Content Management System (CMS), like my favorite, WordPress (which is free and great for podcasting).  This really only takes about an hour or two to do and requires no special skills.  It’s especially easy for a site like yours that has such a minor burden of content migration.  Joomla and Drupal are also free, but for the IPC-Cast, I recommend WordPress.  There is also a handful of other powerful open-source CMS solutions out there that I haven’t mentioned.  Bottom line, you don’t need to spend money on software.

Anyway, I’m just trying to help.  Keep up the great work!  The Podcast is great.

4 Replies to “Intellectual Property Colloquium Podcast: Suggestions”

  1. Nice post andrew, all good points, but if they aren’t up on RSS there is also a good chance they don’t have track backs, technorati alerts or google alerts to notify them you are talking about them. So maybe a message to them directly is also in order.

  2. Hmm. Maybe you’re right. I’ll give it a few days. I mean who doesn’t at least Google themselves or their company/organisation these days?

    I suspect that I’ll be on the front page for some of those searches in a few days, if not later tonight.

  3. Agreed – all really good points, especially the 5 points you listed for reasons to not use Flash-based design. Very clear and precise.

  4. Andrew –

    Wow. Thanks for taking the time to do that. We have been working on some of these issues (like the cut-and-paste problem, which we think we can fix) but, well, it’s really helpful to get a thoughtful kick-in-the-pants. I have to say that I really love the look-and-feel of the site, but I do hear you when you point out some of the remaining shortfalls. Anyway, I’m working with a great techy guy (Chris Moen) to get the site clean and nice, and we’ll totally talk all this through tonight. In the meantime, though, thanks so much — both for the kind words about the show, and for the thoughtful suggestions on how to improve it. I really do appreciate the post.

    Warm regards,
    Doug Lichtman
    “the guy behind ipcolloquium.com”

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