Launch: Student Government Association – BBC
Yesterday we launched the redesigned website for the Student Government Association of the beautiful Biscayne Bay Campus of FIU. I know I can speak for the entire team when I say this was was of our best experiences working with a campus group to create a user-centered website for students. We will be training them to use the CMS this week so they can manage the site on their own, and I am confident that they will continue to create quality content for their new site for many semesters to come.
Design & IA
The old site’s design wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t visually inviting or as easy to navigate as they wanted it to be. The past SGA-BBC president, Cici Battle, asked us to create a site that student would actually want to visit. We hope she can look at this site as her gift to the new board officers. I worked directly with her as she created the pen-and-paper wireframes and user-friendly information architecture in a matter of days. We always strive to make our clients an integral part of the redesign and our team, and she took on the role with great pride. Using our CMS, we built the site, complete with a custom templates created by our interaction designer, Fabian. The homepage banner showcases their board and involvement on the Biscayne Bay Campus. This new site presents SGA-BBC as a friendly, student-centered group that engages the FIU community and invites them to speak out about their concerns. We used feeds from their calendar and both the student media and the official FIU news site, along with an embeded video feature, to show off their accomplishments and campus events.
The content for this site, like most student government sites, was very straightforward and existed in text-based documents before we even started the redesign. This was literally a cut-and-paste project, as the SGA-BBC team had re-written all their content to make sure it was fresh for the new site. I have to say that working with their team to build this site was one of the more satisfying experiences I’ve had as the client relations and project manager here. There were no delays in delivering content to us, everything was written in a brief, web-user friendly format, and anytime I needed an updated image, document or logo it was simply an e-mail away. Some of the landing pages needed brief introduction copy that was easily pulled from the existing materials with almost no need for editing.
Hurry Up & Wait
Launching this site was like planning an awesome vacation, getting all packed and ready then running out the door and realizing your car won’t start. The redesign was complete. Everything worked. The client loved the website. But… we couldn’t push it to their server. For some reason, the Windows-based server at our Biscayne Bay Campus (where the site is hosted) could not handle SFTP access. The IT department there tried for over a week to get us access with several different tools, but nothing worked. Finally, on launch day, we ran a test push using WinSSHD and it worked. It took some techie teamwork to make it happen, but we launched on time and our clients were thrilled to hear their new site was up and running.
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