1. What is the name of your company and your current (or intended) URL?
SMC Design Technology, www.smc.edu/designtechnology
2. Who are the primary contacts from your organization, and who has final approval on the project? Please list names, titles, email addresses, and phone numbers.
Chairman and department heads
3. What is your intended launch date for the new site? Are there any outside considerations that might affect the schedule (for example, PR launch, tradeshow, annual report)?
All depends on approval deadlines set forth by committee
4. Do you have a specific budget range already established for this project? Can this project be divided into phases to accommodate budget and timing constraints?
All depends on budgets set forth by the department
1. Do you feel your current site promotes a favorable user experience? Why or why not?
No. The current sections are outmoded. The Design Technology site doesn’t have any consistency between the departments. The navigation is difficult to use and access to information isn’t readily available.
2. What specific areas of your current site do you feel are successful? Why are they successful?
None. (Except the entertainment technology section has a decent professional updated look and feel even though the information and links are lacking in depth)
3. What shortcomings exist with the current site, and what three things would you change on the site today if you could?
Inconsistency, hard to access information, difficult to navigate, themes between sites are inconsistent evident in the three sections. The site could not be improved by just doing three things. It needs a major redesign.
4. Have you conducted usability tests or gathered visitor feedback for your current site? If so how long ago? Please include any reports or findings.
Official extensive usability tests have not been conducted at this time, but a quick student user survey has been conducted and we find that the site overall needs a major redo since it was designed quite a long time ago and hasn’t changed since.
5. How important is it to maintain your current look and feel, logo, and branding?
The main SMC branding needs to be consistent, but according to the department chair, logos, branding, and look and feel of the design technology department can be changed suitable to SMC standards, and we’ll be looking for an updated distinctive brand that carries across all departments underneath the Design Technology Brand.
Reasons for Redesign
1. What are the main reasons you are redesigning your site (new business model, outdated site, expanded services, different audience)?
Right now, the sites are inconsistent and would like to consolidate the different websites underneath one main website where information is available
2. What are your primary online business objectives with the site redesign? What are your secondary objectives? (Examples include increased sales, marketing/branding awareness, and fewer customer service calls.) Please discuss both long- and short-term goals.
Primary objectives are to increase viewership in all demographics by updating the site that would also increase admission to Design Technology disciplines. Short-term goal would be to redesign the site to give a more professional formal presence on the web, long term goal would be to increase donor sponsorship and increased academic enrollment.
3.What is the main business problem you hope to solve with the site redesign? How will you measure the success of the solution?
The site redesign will have a consistent professional look and presence on the web, thereby increasing academic enrollment, donor sponsorship and more useful student information.
4.What existing strategy (both on- and offline) is in place to meet the new business objectives?
The main business problem is to increase consistency among the various sites. Success would be measured by gathering feedback through random surveys.
1. Describe a typical site visitor. How often are they online, and what do they generally use the web for? Give basic demographics: age, occupation, income level, purchasing habits. (Use as much detail as possible in profiling your target user. Profile more than one type if appropriate.)
The typical site visitor would be almost all demographics, from the prospective student looking to find information about the school and degree programs, to the parent who is researching the best school to send their child. The visitor could also be the donor looking to give money to the school, to the prospective teacher looking for work in the school system as well as anyone interested in design technology.
2. What is the primary “action” the site visitor should take when coming to your site (make a purchase, become a member, search for information)?
The primary action is to search for information.
3. What are the key reasons why the target audience chooses your company’s products and/or services (cost, service, value)?
SMC has been rated the highest transfer rate to 4-year universities in Southern California. It offers lower tuition per class compared to other local 2-year colleges. Quality of output from graduates to the marketplace, as well as major requirements to graduate and transfer are also rated highly.
4. How many people (as far as you can tell) access your site on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? How do you measure usage? Do you forecast usage to increase after the site launch and by how much?
We don’t have a mechanism in place for that. But it is probably in the thousands on a weekly and monthly basis, and there would be peak times around pre-registration, registration, and beginning and end of school sessions.
1. Use a few adjectives to describe how your site visitor should perceive the new site. (Examples include prestigious, friendly, corporate, fun, forward thinking, innovative, and cutting edge.) Is this different than the current image perception?
Description of this site should include: friendly, forward thinking, innovative simple, modern, current, informative, and customer-centric
2. How is your company currently perceived offline? Do you want to carry the same kind of message through your website?
SMC has an outstanding reputation as the top community college in California and the design technology department has an outstanding reputation, as well as the best college to go through to transfer for 4 yr universities. Yes.
3. How does your company differentiate itself from competitors? Do you think your current audience differentiates you from your competition? Please list competitor URLs.
SMC prides itself from competing community college with its high standing scholastic performance, reputation in the field of study offered, and wide range of degrees and classes to take with lower tuition cost per unit.
4. List the URLs of any sites you find compelling. What specifically do you like about these sites?
http://www.westwood.edu/programs/school-of-technology/ simple, modern, informative, ease of navigation
http://www.ashevilleschool.org/ descriptive, simple three-bucket design, modern, informative, easy
http://www.lafayette.edu/ picturesque, simple, modern, informative, uncluttered
http://www.pugetsound.edu/ friendly, modern, ease of navigation, informative
http://www.otis.edu sleek design, access of information throughout site
http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/ all in one place, easy to navigate.
http://www.artinstitutes.edu incorporates several degree programs into one website
1. Will this site use existing content from the current site? If so, what is the source, who is responsible for approval, and has the content been audited? If not, will you be creating content in-house or using an outside provider?
Yes. Not sure the source for approval. Content has not been audited.
2. What is the basic structure of the content, and how is it organized? Is it a complete overhaul of the current site or an expansion?
The site is basically a mess. The information is disjointed and hard to gather all the information needed in one place. This will be a complete overhaul of the current site.
3. Describe visual elements or content that should be utilized from your current site or marketing materials (logo, color scheme, navigation, naming conventions, etc.)
Consistency is the main objective. SMC logo and branding should remain consistent with the current SMC site, the design technology link needs similar color scheme but not necessarily identical. Naming conventions need to follow SMC standards.
4. How will the content of this site (along with functionality and navigation) expand or differ from your current site? Do you have an existing sitemap for the outgoing site structure? Do you already have a sitemap or outline for the proposed redesign?
The content will essentially be the same, it’s redesigning the current mini-sites to exist “under one roof”…There is no existing sitemap which would incorporate all three different sites.
1. What is your target platform and browser? Whom can we talk to in your organization to help respond to technical issues?
Should be compatible with Macs and PCs as well as cross-browser compatible on all major browsers (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, IE). Would have to talk to the IT Support Administrator at school for technical issues.
To enhance user experience, we would like to incorporate Jquery, HTML5, and CSS3 for front-end development as well as incorporate PHP and MySQL for database driven portions of the site. We believe more modern technologies would enhance the user experience given a more modern look.
3. Will you have database functionality (dynamic content generation, personalization/login)? Do you already have a database in place? Please describe it in detail, including specific information regarding existing programs and software.
Yes. There are current logins for the corsair connect portion of the website. Don’t have detailed information regarding the database for the school.
4. Will you have a need for secured transactions (e-commerce)? Do you already offer transactions online? Please describe in detail.
It could possibly have e-commerce for the bookstore portion of the site, allowing students to purchase their textbooks online and have them shipped to the student. We also allow students to pay tuition fees online through the fee assessment portion of the site after the student logs in.
5. Will you require other specific programming needs (such as personalization or search capability)? Please describe in detail.
We would want to have SEO performed for the site to allow it to rank higher in searches.
1. How do most people find out about your current website? What kind of triggers prompts a visit (referral links, incentives, search engine terms)? What methods of distributing the URL already exist within the company on and offline?
The site is tied in with the main SMC site, which triggers most visits as well as referral links and through career fairs held at the local high schools. We have a smaller marketing campaign on the BigBlueBus system displaying advertisements at the back of the buses giving a link to the school.
2. Briefly, what are your short-term marketing plans (specifically, for the site redesign and the 6 to 12 months following launch)?
Short-term marketing plan is to increase awareness of the redesigned site, driving more traffic to the website.
3. Do you have an existing or planned marketing strategy in mind to promote this site redesign? If so, please describe.
There is none currently in place.
4. Do you intend to keep the site updated? If so, how often? Who is responsible for updating and providing content?
We intend to keep the site updated as each semester ends. Not sure who is responsible for updating and providing content.
Core Design Process
This is the process that can be incorporated and adapted by all web development teams and it consists of the following:
- define the project [discovery, clarification, planning]
- develop site structure [content-view, site-view, page-view, user-view]
- design visual interface [create, confirm, hand off]
- build and integrate [plan, build, test]
- launch and beyond [deliver, launch, maintain]
This is the slow and inevitable swelling of the project’s scope from something defined to something significantly bigger. For example, little things and small changes add up and the gradual growth of tasks are not easily recognizable.
Late content is consistently one of the biggest reasons for project delay. The task itself and the resources needed to complete said task are severely underestimated. One way to combat content tardiness is to hire a content manager-someone to oversee the entire content delivery process.
“QA” in QA testing
A QA plan specifies the methodology used to test against browsers, platforms, and tech specs; resources, schedule, equipment and assumptions are listed along with a plan for bug tracking and fixes prior to release.
Smart design serves as the audience’s environment and capabilities. This is functional and fast loading. It is focused on the user’s experience rather than the ambitions of the designers, even if it is cool to use flash and other web tricks. Think like your audience.
Discovery is the information-gathering process meant to dig deep into the details of what is important to the client’s business, target audience and industry. The more information you gather, interpret, and comprehend, the more prepared you will be to execute a site on budget and on target.
Good client attributes
- goal oriented
- answer client survey in clear detailed manner
- request for a clear outline of goals and scope
- understand web environment and development process
- sign-off and approval in timely manner
- agreement on deliverable, budget, schedules
- responsive to emails,phone calls
- has team oriented approach
- gives content on time
- part of solution rather than the problem.
Red flag client
- has get it up quick attitude
- wants shortcut process
- does not know what content should be
- ask for a demo site rather that real one
- can’t give final approval
- doesn’t have time to fill out survey
- small budget, swift deadline
- unresponsive, indecisive, changes mid frequently
- wants to handle creative and production process to save money
audience profile or user profile
These are specific information about potential users including:
- basic demographics
- day in the life stories
- photographs of people, their environments, and their tools
- likes and dislikes
- observational data
- product usage patterns
- frustrations with your products or similar products
- product related desires
- determine users technical capabilities
- their typical screen resolution
- flash player vs real player
The following are tips to consider WordPress for your next easy web site as CMS:
- WordPress is FREE. WordPress is basically a Content Management System that you can use to update your web site in real time with graphics and content.
- Themes. WordPress can be designed with 100% custom graphics. This means that you don’t have to sacrifice design for a good content manager.
- Fresh content! WordPress makes it easy for any authorized user to update or add new content to your web site.
- WordPress is now a web site and blogging software. There is NO NEED to have two separate site for your web site and blog. In fact, you can set up as many blogs and content contributors as you want.
- Don’t pay for a CMS web site. When you don’t have to pay for CMS programming it means you can spend your budget on the graphic design and layout.