Abstract: Our project addresses complaints about the University of Washington's Husky Marching Band's website and provides logistical solutions for their unique challenges. They cannot afford to hire a webmaster, so updating and maintaining the website is a responsibility of the undergraduate assistant (a title that changes holders every few years) whose technical abilities can vary greatly. To address this problem, we used Wordpress, which allows inexperienced users to create and edit web pages easily. We gauged success by comparing speed of users in finding information, overall coherence of information organization, and client satisfaction. By redesigning the site, upgrading its member database, and creating a wiki manual, our solution enables inexperienced users to manage the site and easily "pass the torch" to the next undergraduate assistant.
My role in the project was client liaison and designer. I also helped manage the team and assisted user testing.
Before we were approved to do our project, we had to come up with a proposal. Our proposal contained our motivation, goals, schedule, resources, and related work. Go ahead and read our project proposal.
We created a survey to gather responses from potential, current, and former band members about the Husky Marching Band website. We also interviewed the Director of Athletic Bands, Dr. J. Brad McDavid, and some of the staff members about their current information system.
Some of the questions were:
An email was sent to listserves of the band and Kappa Kappa Psi, a national honorary band service fraternity, who had members who were also in the band. We received 107 responses and it told us what we suspected to be the main problems. The survey included places where the user can provide overall feedback/suggestions.
I sketched out how the site's navigation should be and how the content would be organized.
We created the website using Wordpress. We used a theme as a base and we designed it following the University of Washington Intercollegiate Athletics branding guide.
We then came up with tasks for usability testing. We tested with members of the Husky Marching Band and band members from University of Colorado - Boulder in person. We timed the users who used the old and the new site. We alternated which site to start the test as well. 100% of the users performed tasks faster on the new site.
Based on the testing, there were some tasks that took longer than predicted. We then adjusted the navigation bar and took other user feedback into consideration.
We also set a time up to get together with the staff to educate them with the new system. We went over how they could use Wordpress, the new member directory, and the wiki manual, a documentation that they could look back at. We informed them that the wiki manual is editable and can be easily passed down to future undergraduate assistants.
On top of that, I worked with the program coordinator to make sure the domain and webhosting were to satsification. One of our goals was to move hosting to the UW campus' department servers to save money and only to purchase the domain names. Our client wanted the name change to be a .org domain rather than the .com. We got the .org name and had the .com name redirect to the .org. I informed the program coordinator to keep it like that until at least the next expiration date so that others know that the name switched and that the website is search engine optimized with .org and not .com.
The new website became live around the end of June 2012. It was announced to the members of the band in August as they prepare for the upcoming season. We got good feedback from the staff and members as well.
3 months after the end of our project ended and about a couple of weeks into band season, a few of us were contacted again to help with some technical issues. It was mostly Bryce and I who helped. It was for the member directory as that system was more secured (having UW NetID authentication and being enrolled in the course).
The graduate assistants also wanted a few more things out of us, so we tried to create more additions to the system. They even restarted the social media for the band, which I provided some help since I took a course in social media strategy. I didn't want to see it fail again as there were multiple attempts with social media while I was in band.
A year later (Aug 2013), the new program coordinator contacted me for additional help. Their current webhosting was having problems and together decided to try to move the whole website to be hosted by the University. It took awhile for the paperwork to get cleared, but now the website is no longer being hosted by an outside shared hosting company.