ACWHE website design and construction

I was blessed to be a part of a wonderfully well working team with Lydia Perry, Sarah Bueche and myself.  Lydia has amazing technical writing skills and Sara Bueche has first rate Adobe Photoshop skills which each proved very useful in the progress of this project.  I primarily filled in the gaps and covered the communications with Dr. Vondra Armstrong who was the standing President of Arkansas Council for Women in Higher Education (ACWHE) and was our primary point of contact. The three of us worked very well together and got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time.

We started off by setting up a WordPress.org installation with the web host provider that Professor Aaron Baker established for the class.  Once version 3.4.2 was setup and running we began migrating over the existing information from the ACWHE website that was housed at http://acwhe.org/ that had been constructed in Microsoft FrontPage 2003 and is no longer supported by Microsoft.  Hence, the migration to a WordPress installation.  After we had migrated all of the existing information over to the new format that temporarily could be found at http://acwhe.dreamhosters.com/ we then contacted Dr. Vondra Armstrong which had a completely different design aesthetic and overall structure in mind which led to a complete site overhaul.

At Dr. Vondra Armstrong’s request we changed the site colors from green and white to pink and brown.  Fortunately we were able to find a basic template with the pink coloration using the theme Bouquet by Automattic version 1.0.1 in Pink Dogwood which we then customized for ACWHE.   We looked for royalty free background images on the web and located a graphic that resembled polished brown wood grain that we then utilized as the background image.   Sarah made customized banner images using the biographical information and photography of the officers and presidents that Dr. Vondra Armstrong provided; while, I built the Past Presidents and the 20120 ACWHE Conference Photogallery page.  Collaboratively we worked together to determine the best possible navigational structure and populating the rest of the pages using the information that Dr. Vondra Armstrong emailed us.

I learned quite a bit about time management and making sure to provide clear guidelines and target date deadlines for submission of information from Dr. Vondra Armstrong to our team for incorporation into the website.   We did receive several additional pieces of information from her after the receipt deadline of 11/19/2012 had passed, but she was gracious in understanding that the submission deadline for grading by Aaron Baker was 12/10/2012 and that we needed the week of 12/03/2012 to debug the website and test the links to make sure everything worked appropriately.   Dr. Armstrong was kind enough to let us know that once we had completed everything that we could for her, that her team would take over what was left that they wanted to do with the website and run with it.

I also learned that people who are not innately interested in website development or technology in general have trouble following the technical details of what goes into making a website such as http://acwhe.dreamhosters.com/ and that it takes some serious thought to be able to explain what information we need as developers to those members of management who are not inherently technically savvy themselves.   I think that was the most difficult part was to explain what we needed in such a way that Dr. Armstrong could understand not having worked in web development herself previously and her current webmaster was not available when we met to discuss the technical and design details.

Dr. Vondra Armstrong was great about providing a “wish list” of what she wanted out of the revamped website.  Just some of what she wanted was beyond the scope of what we as Information Technology Minor students could provide her.   We tried to explain why and how she could get what she wanted, but it is debatable as to how much of that information that was communicated to her was actually understood.   Speaking to those who are not involved themselves in the technical fields can be difficult and trying, but it is an important skill to have.   Many managers do not have the technical skills themselves to build websites or administrate them.  However, that is why they hire people like us who do, we just have to be able to take what fuzzy and partially thought out concepts that management brings forth and translate those into the technical processes that it takes to perform those tasks.

To review the proposal that we submitted to Aaron Baker for the ACWHE website upgrade to WordPress version 3.4.2 please click on the following PDF link:
ACWHE Website Revamp Proposal