Website: my.vuw.ac.nz (site has since been redesigned) - view screenshot
Size: re-skinning approximately 10 templates
Government status: Government Agency
My professional status: employee at Shift
Website client: Victoria University
Dates: October 2006
Brief: Victoria University's secure web portal for students and staff. An on-site re-skinning job, which involved negotiating my way through the existing portal application, and re-skinning it according to two new alternative designs from Shift.
My responsibilities included:
- Working on-site at Victoria University, getting my head around their complex portal application (Luminis) and figuring out how the stylesheets controlled the visual display of the individual channels
- Close liaison with the client in order to achieve all their aims for the site, and to work through a range of technical and implementation issues on-site
- As the HTML for the channels was automatically generated by Luminis, (using a large number of nested tables) I was not able to change any existing HTML at all, beyond hand-building the homepage
- Manipulating the CSS in the stylesheets to force the existing HTML to match the new designs as closely as possible
- Creating two alternative sets of styles for the two new designs
- Creating new stylesheets for those channels built using iFrames - and ensuring that sufficient information was included in the style guide to help maintain consistency between channels and iFrames
- Extensive testing of the site at all stages of the development process, ensuring complete consistency across a wide range of browsers and platforms, including IE7 which had just been released
- Extensive documentation and ongoing technical support for the Victoria web team as they approached go-live
- Advising the designer on the contents of the online style guide she created to accompany this project.
The existing portlet application software was fairly old and clunky, and there wasn't a great deal of documentation to explain how it worked. I had great support from Sonali Mukherji at Victoria University, who had spent a few days before I arrived on-site going through the system and figuring out which bits did what. Together we were able to pinpoint the relevant stylesheets and work out how they connected with the various portlets and iFrames. I was somewhat limited in what I was able to do, as the HTML in the Luminis-generated channels could not be changed at all, but I re-skinned the site as closely as possible to the new designs supplied by Shift.