Monday, November 28, 2005

Getting on with it - pages built

The basic pages for the 1st phase release are built.

I had to work from home to get it done though. It's been a struggle to stay focused on the Intranet build.

The daily news publishing is new and so has been taking up time plus another project's website I usually update needed to be updated and there wasn't anyone else to do it at that time (plus the other things that just sort of happen).

But anyway, they're built. They just need to be tested and the drop-down navigation needs to be done. Then I can save them as templates and more pages can be created - the build will finally start to take shape!

The build process we followed might not have been clear from the previous post so this is what happened:
  • Finalise hierarchy (we just decided when to stop as the naming process which is left could go on for quite some time*).
  • Decide which items are main navigation and which are secondary navigation for each level in the hierarchy.
  • Sketch layouts showing different placements for the main and sub-navigation items.
  • Test the layouts to see which ones people preferred.
  • Translate the chosen layout style into a Photoshop mock-up of the web page showing design.
  • Test the mock-ups by showing colour printouts to people and asking them to navigate a path through the site - I tested the chosen one on 8 people (3 of whom were quite close to the project).
  • The chosen design was approved.
  • The web pages were built.
*Note: The structure of this site is very different to any arrangement of this information that staff have seen before. It will take time to get used to. We know that this development process will not end once the Intranet is launched and expect some re-naming (and also re-shuffling within the sections) to take place after people have got used to the new structure.

But that's it for now, the next thing will be to test the built web pages to see if they do what people expect and that they work across browsers and at different resolutions (they have been built with this intention and have already been tested from 800x600 up to 1280x1024).

Right - stuff to do...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Summary - Started design and layout phase

Well, it's been a while since the last entry because there's been so much to do...

The newsletter is now integrated into the Intranet home page and news items are being published online, once a day. This is using the old Intranet and a manual process managed with Macromedia Contribute. There is an editorial review process which involves an editorial group and the authors of the news items.

A news publishing system is being developed to help streamline the daily publishing. This will automate the archiving and linking between old stories and provide a print basket facility for people to select individual stories to print (a maximum of 5 at a time). This will be introduced in the new Intranet.

The parts of the staff handbook which form the content to be delivered are being reviewed and split into a procedure which will be web-based, linking to a policy (where relvant) which will be a document kept in a database which has controlled production and publishing workflow. This is a lot of work as some of the procedural content is in more than one document and it is important that the policies are not re-written when re-structuring the documents. This process is also showing when procedures need to be written for the first time.

The hierarchy arranging and section naming excercise has been cut off. A decision has been made for the names of the level one sections and any changes will be made after the phase 1 launch.

Layouts have been sketched and tested. Mock ups have been created and are being tested.

The phased launch items have been re-assessed and cut down due to lack of time (interruptions to work on other items, illness, daily news publishing taking longer than expected to implement).

The phase one items to deliver are:
  • the home page containing links to all sections (although not all content will be available)
  • the section providing all the things people need to manage their working time at the company such as expense and sickness forms, appraisal info etc
  • a search facility
  • integrated news on the Intranet home page
  • access to the current web application used for making purchases
  • access to a new staff directory (with contact details, organisation charts and photographs, this is made but not styled)
  • a book library (the 1st in a series of libraries)
  • all documents will be supplied from a Document Management System with controlled access and controlled creation.
We now have 4 weeks to build, test and implement these.

It would be more comfortable to move the delivery date into next year but we have involved people throughout the development and they are starting to expect something. We don't want to ruin their enthusiasm by not delivering something at least. But to make sure that it's something worthwhile we've had to reduce the deliverables considerably.

We are only delivering one section instead of 5, the web applications will not be styled to match the new Intranet until later, only one library will be available instead of 3. Any content which must be made available for legal reasons will be provided in a temporary format instead of an updated format (not re-structured, not web-based etc).

So, there's still a lot to do and we may yet have to re-assess our deliverables but until then we're just going to get on with it...