(Worth 20% of your grade; due on Wednesday, December 18, at 4:25 p.m.)
Your most substantive assignment of the semester calls for you to develop (or redevelop) a website for a real client. Clients may include employers, nonprofit groups, and campus organizations, but the client must need a website and be willing to participate in the project before the end of the semester. Your work for the client should demonstrate your abilities as a writer, a coder, an information architect, and a usability specialist. Each of you will work with a small group of your classmates (ideal team size: 2–4 people) to complete this project.
Because each project will be unique, your work for this assignment will be governed by a memorandum of understanding between you, me, and your client. In your MOU, you should propose a plan that will govern your work for the remainder of the course. Once you have identified a client and assembled a team, you should create a copy of the MOU template and begin drafting your proposal.
One of the primary objectives of this assignment is to learn how to work with clients, so you will need to maintain regular contact with your client throughout the project. Checking in with your client (in person, on the phone, or via email) at least weekly will ensure that you stay on track and meet your client’s expectations. Your final project folder should contain evidence of this collaborative, iterative design process, including wireframes, draft text, prototypes, client feedback, etc. (Tip: Save everything related to this project!)
Depending on your client’s needs, you may focus most heavily on writing, design, content management, social media, etc… Whatever the case, your work should be commensurate with an collaborative, seven-week project and should reflect well on yourself and on Virginia Tech.
The primary deliverable for this assignment will be the finished client site, which should be live on the web or ready to go live pending your client’s approval.
In addition, your project should be accompanied by a two-page memo of transmittal (single spaced, using memo format) that explains and justifies the choices your team made over the course of the project. Your memo should contain the URL for your finished site and should address issues of audience, content, and purpose, as well as more technical topics, such as markup, color, typography, usability, etc. Your memo should also address any problems you encountered during this project and discuss what you might do differently if you had more time, different software, greater expertise, etc.
Your project will almost certainly include additional deliverables, such as evidence of client feedback, drafts of web content, and screenshots of early prototypes. Your MOU should include a full list of the specific deliverables you intend to produce for your project.
To help you stay on schedule, I will meet regularly with each team and will collect draft components of your project on the following dates:
- November 6: Memorandum of understanding, signed by client and all members of your team.
- November 13: Wireframes/mockups of your proposed site.
- November 20: First rough draft of the site.
- December 2: Protocol for usability tests.
- December 9: Usability test results.
- December 11: Second full draft of the site, with client feedback.
Submitting Your Project
Your project is due at the beginning of our final exam, on Wednesday, December 18, at 4:25 p.m. Please submit your team’s memo of transmittal (described above, under the “Deliverables” subheading) any additional materials (usability results, wireframes, screenshots of early drafts, client feedback, or anything else listed in your team’s MOU) by placing them in your team’s shared Google Drive folder. Your individually completed “Team Evaluation Form” should be slid under my office door (Shanks 427) or placed in my department mailbox (#8, located next to Shanks 323) before the due date.
Like everything else related to this assignment, the criteria I will use to evaluate your project are negotiable and will be finalized in your MOU. As you draft your evaluation criteria, you may want to draw upon these examples:
- Audience: What primary or secondary audiences does your client need or want to address in establishing a presence on the web? Have you anticipated the information needs of these audiences and does your site fulfill these needs? Who are these people and how can you draw them into your client’s website?
- Information Architecture: Does the site you created reflect the information needs of the audiences you identified above? Does the site have an organizational scheme that is used consistently throughout the site?
- Longevity: Is the site structured and coded in such a way that your client will be able to maintain the site without coming to you for help? Have you provided documentation to your client that explains how to maintain the site?
- Visual Design: Is the site visually appealing? Does the site employ best practices in design, color, and typography?
- Usability: Is the site easy to navigate? How quickly would first-time visitors be able to find the information they are looking for? Does the site use a responsive layout that works well across multiple devices?
- HTML/CSS Markup: Does your markup conform to current standards, and if not, why have you deviated from these standards? Have you tested your site on a variety of browsers running on a variety of machine configurations to ensure no one in your intended audience is excluded from viewing the site because of the markup you have used? Does the site pass the W3C Validator tests?
- Memo of transmittal: Does the memo clearly and persuasively explain your work on this project and justify the decisions that you made? Does it adhere to the standards of professional written English (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.)?