OIA Website Project

The Office of International Programs contacted our office about revamping their website completely, as well as upgrading the International Linkages database..

Main Goals for new website

  • Align the design with NC State branding standards
  • Ensure the website is compliant with all necessary accessibility standards
  • Move to an easier method of updating the website (previously using Contribute + DreamWeaver)
  • Easy archiving of older content without deleting it.
  • Integrate Facebook/Twitter/other social networking tools as needed

Main goals for new database application

  • better searching & displaying results of programs
  • searching by multiple criteria (programs, people, colleges, partners)
  • add ability for people to manage their own profiles, upload profile image, documents/attachments
  • make adding people profiles easier by integrating with NCSU Directory for standard field information
  • submission process (approval) for new programs before they are integrated into the site and search results
  • easy method to maintain the database
  • design should be similar/connected to the main website design

Process

After gathering initial requirements, features, and wish lists, significant time was spent coming up with a few different designs to present to the client. At the same time, it was discussed at great length whether to implement the new website using a Content Management System like Drupal or to remain using Contribute and DreamWeaver. Eventually, the decision was made to use Drupal for several reasons:

  • easier for the client to maintain the website using their browser instead of learning a desktop application
  • easier to train additional staff to maintain the website if needed in the future
  • no licensing costs for web publishing software
  • vast library of plug-ins/modules to help integrate the website with other technologies (social networking services, RSS etc).

The process for developing the database application took a significant amount of time to plan and design the structure. The application would be developed in PHP with a MySQL database, and use the OT Framework, which is built upon Zend Framework.

Once the design was finalized and approved by the client, it was converted to a Drupal Theme, and installed in the Web Hosting pilot environment being offered by OIT. This hosting environment provides one-click installs for common/popular software through Fantastico (an installer common and recognizable to anyone who has registered their own domain personally on a service like Dreamhost or BlueHost).

After installation of the theme and several modules to support the required features, the site was turned over to the client for the addition and migration of content from the old website. Shortly after, the database application was finished and installed in a sub-directory of the web hosting account. It was also turned over to the client for the addition of information from the old database. There was no real method for migrating the data automatically or in batch due to the vastly more complex database structure in the new application.

Moving into Maintenance Mode

All OIT Design client projects are covered by 3 months of support and maintenance after the “go live” date. Most clients (and OIA was no different), purchase a support contract for an entire year to cover more than basic problems with the site. These contracts are based on per-hour costs for a monthly block of support time.

Since the launch of the new website and database application, there have been several small features implemented or edited to help OIA meet their evolving needs, now that their whole model of website management has changed (as compared to their old DreamWeaver website). The database application has also been upgraded to include a few more features to make it easier for the administrator of the application, as well as the users.

Old Website & Database Screen Shots

New Website & Application Screen Shots