Notes from project team meeting #2

Today Carol and I met, reviewed the home page evaluation, figured out some goals for the home page, and discussed the different audience needs.

Moving forward, the home page content will be designed to primarily serve current students. A basic needs inventory helped us to determine that this audience will need information about:

  • advising
  • academic resources
  • TRIO SSP class materials and information
  • getting ready for the first semester
  • career counseling
  • intro/guide to financial aid

Content will be grouped into areas for:

  • active/actionable information
  • announcements
  • event information
  • volunteer opportunities
  • featured resources
  • important dates
  • promotion of advising
  • The ‘splash’ graphic immediately below the top of the page will be removed. The decision was based on consideration of the value this element presents to students. As implemented, the splash graphic presents non-dynamic images that serve no specific function other than to make the page look attractive and welcoming. In place of the splash graphic we will be including a photo from the ‘photo albums’ along with a brief caption and link to related photo album or event detail. We will use a snipet of code to facilitate random loading of the image. In considering this change, we reviewed the new Parent and Family Programs Web site — where we found that the splash graphic was not used, and a single, attractive photo representing parents and students supports the content/message/purpose of the page. On the Parent and Family Programs site, the image randomly loads. We will probably ask our friends who developed the Parent site to share the code they used to implement this nice feature. By re-purposing existing resources we save development time while nurturing inter-office relations.

    In lieu of a content management system (which will eventually be rolled out and support many dynamic features) we will be using open source blog software (probably blogger.com) to author information to the ‘active/actionable content’ section of the new home page. The blog software will allow us to easily syndicate content in an RSS feed — providing alternative information distribution methods and establishing the potential for future information ‘mash-ups‘.

    To populate the content from the blog to the TRIO SSP Web site, we will be developing/adapting a PHP script to grab information from the RSS feed and render it within the home page of the TRIO SSP Web site each time the page is loaded.

    Our current goal is to prototype the new TRIO SSP home page, do a review with stakeholders in the SSP office, make revisions to the prototype, and publish a finished home page over the next week.

    As we move forward we will be discussing some technical details about web development. The scope of this case study will enable us to provide explanation about what we are doing in terms of PHP, HTML, and CSS development as well as graphic design and software applications. Our commentary may not be able to fully address the needs of all skill levels. So, if something doesn’t make sense, please ask. We may answer your question or refer you to supplemental resources.

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