Computing Website Redesigned

Welcome to the new website for computing and information technology in the School of Arts & Sciences. The redesigned site, unveiled on September 22, provides several improvements.

Why

SAS Computing has several reasons to redesign our website. The first is that, since we now recommend Drupal as a vehicle for creating departmental websites, we wanted to be among the early adapters to use the new system. Having gone through the development process ourselves, we are now much more familiar with both the capabilities and the limitations of Drupal for relatively large departmental websites.

A second reason for redesign is to put our clients’ needs ahead of our own. Our previous website was organized around the various workgroup structures within SAS Computing. The new site aims to make it easier for people to find the services and support they need. Therefore, this site is organized to address the needs of our primary constituencies: students, alumni, faculty and staff. Each group will find the information they need in our menus. The redesign moves the focus from SAS Computing as an organization to information technology as a set of tools we all use to achieve the educational goals of the School of Arts & Sciences.

The new site makes it easier to search and browse for information. Our search blank is available at the top of every page. Our standard menu includes a search feature (including advanced search), a site map, and a tag cloud. Tags make it easier to find related materials in the site. Tag links are located below each title, and the tag cloud presents the most frequently visited topics. Our aim is to make it easier to find information.

We have tried to preserve our previous site’s web addresses that people were most likely to have bookmarked. Drupal gives us the ability to see what people searched for but failed to find. We can use this information to guide further development of the site.

News and announcements will now be posted on the front page of the site. Handy RSS feeds at key points make it easy for individuals to access new information that is of particular interest to them.

How

This site uses the Drupal. Drupal is an open-source Content Management System. Hundreds of modules extend its capabilities. Everything is put in place and modified using a web interface.

The procedures of our information security team ensure the stability and security of all our Drupal sites and their modules.

The site uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for layout. The layout accomodates today’s wider computer screens, but is still usable on smaller screens. The aim is for our information to be universally accessible by any web browser, including handheld devices and screen readers.

Who

Many staff members in SAS Computing have been involved in the planning and implementation of the new website. The site’s information architecture is the product of collaboration by representatives of the workgroups within SAS Computing.

This site’s layout is a variation on Justin Klein-Keane’s adaptation of the Zen theme, which is a liquid, three-column Drupal layout. Jay Treat is responsible for the current implementation, which aims to preserve the colors and other features of university templates.

Many people have been involved in the actual work of moving content into the site, but we especially acknowledge John MacDermott, Chris Mustazza, and Daniel Silverman for doing much of the heavy lifting.

When

Planning began in the the early summer of 2008, and development began in July. The new site went live in our production server on Monday, September 22, 2008.