design background image
design background image
design background image


Student Portal for Alfred University
project date: 

In 2003, four members of the Student Web Team at Alfred University began work on a web portal for their fellow student body. I was the design chair and co-programmer for this project. The other three members of the portal team were Sondra Stephens—in charge of content management, Adam Hashen—a co-programmer and market analyst, and Michael Mertsock—our lead programmer and database manager. The project was overseen by Judy Linza, AU's Staff Webmaster. The student Web Team continues to maintain and develop My-AU.

For information security and privacy reasons, visitors to My-AU must login with their campus username and password. The following screen shots were taken in May of 2004 and are presented as documentation of my contributions to the project.

the front news pagean open DHTML menu and announcement submission popup windowthe theme customization page

layout and palettes

My initial task for the portal was to design the page layout which would remain constant throughout the portal. We wanted a layout that wouldn't be too cluttered with information and thus confuse the users, we wanted it to appear aesthetically pleasing, and we wanted graphical elements of the design to act in a functional manner—visually separating areas of content from each other.

Numerous color palettes were also developed for the portal, each is selectable the individual user has its own CSS file.

user data submission

One aspect that we wanted to be an integral part of the My-AU portal was the ability for students to submit information such as links, announcements, web polls, etc. In this way, the users of the portal become the providers for a large portion of the portal's content, posting interesting links, announcements about upcoming events, and other forms of useful information and entertainment for their fellow students to enjoy.

I began with the links submission process as it was the most simple and thus the easiest data to develop our collection, storage, display and user customization methods around. We then developed the pages for submitting news/announcements and web polls.

viewing all user submitted linkscustomizing links for personalized displayviewing extended weather information

web services and RSS

Initially, our weather information was in image file that was provided to us by an outside weather service, however, we began to feel that the size, text and colors of this image did not mesh with the layout and palettes that I had been developing. I began looking for an alternate source of information and eventually came across a stable web service that provided a wealth of weather report and forecast data. I researched how best to implement this data and included it into the main portal layout as well as an Extended Weather Forecast page which returns weather information based on user input zip-code values.

Based on what I learned from pulling in this weather data, I began to look at a variety of RSS news feeds, and built into the portal an application which pulls various major news feeds into the News and Announcements section of the front page on the portal. Each RSS source is also individually selectable by the users through the Content Customization Page.

admin pages

Being that we wanted the content of the portal to be largely in the hands of the users, there was the potential for a user to submit incorrect or objectionable material. We needed an admin section for the members of the student web team in charge of the portal. Together, Mike Mertsock and I developed and built the admin system for My-AU.

administration front pagecustomizing contentan individual profile page