ASSIST: Final Report, Web Group
  1. Objective

    My original objective was to simply maintain the website, but when I started splitting it into public and private sections, I saw that a site redesign would be necessary.

  2. Introduction/background

    I redesigned the ASSIST website, splitting it into "public" and "private" sections. The public section should be simple so that visitors using various browsers could access it without any problem, and that the site will render quickly and correctly on their browsers.

    The server no longer wished to host our website, so I moved it to the www-inst server, which hosts most of the websites for the courses in the EECS department.

  3. Technical details of the plan

    The website uses valid HTML. All pages, except for the ones dynamically generated by the message board program have been "validated" by W3C. W3C is the organization that determines what will be valid HTML, and having a page validated by a CGI program o n their server ensures that it conforms to the HTML standard and should therefore be readable by all browsers that implement the same standard of HTML.

    As a kind of insurance that the website will render correctly on all browsers, I did not use any images (especially animations) in the site, and, instead of defining colors in the website, I allowed the user's browser default colors to be used in rende ring the page. This will hopefully make the page easier to read.

    Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), I changed the typeface on the site, making it hopefully easier to read. Web designer David Chan wrote,

    The eyes prefer serif fonts to san-serif fonts printed at high resolutions on paper. On a computer screen it's the other way. The resolutions of today's monitors are lower than a hundred dpi. Many serif fonts look "messy" because each letter is represented by so few pixels.

    I wholly agree. Pixelated serif typefaces are difficult to read on most monitors. We want to make the website as accessible as possible, so I changed the typeface.

    A CGI message board was added to allow the group to post announcements and quick replies or where a public discussion forum is necessary, or where group members might not have immediate access to e-mail.

    I password-protected the student section of the ASSIST website to make the information contained therein more secure. It is our intention to post information about specific cases that we are handling, and we need to keep this information safe from publ ic viewing.

    We wanted to publicize ASSIST, so I submitted the site to search engines, and added a counter on the main page of the public part of the website. Although a majority of our visitors are students involved in the group itself, we also get visitors from o ther educational institutions, and from as far away as Singapore and Japan. I believe the success of this to come by adding information to the pages that search engines can readily parse, therefore increasing the chances that our pages come up in searches on Internet search engines.

    The website has been maintained with the weekly minutes, which are usually taken by Lara Dolecek.

  4. Progress

    I aim to keep the site as up-to-date as possible and I try to add the meeting minutes to the site within a week of the meeting.

  5. Work to be done

    Each semester, the website should be updated with contact information for each student. Old minutes should remain on the website so that they can be used as a reference to future classes.

  6. Discussion of the result

    I am satisfied with the result of the website, but anticipate posting the final project reports for each group of students.

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