Student Success Web Re-Design

NMT TC Website Re-design

During the Spring 2008 semester, TC students Greg Koch, Erik Brown, and Roger Renteria redesigned the TC department website. This project was the result of the Digital Media Design class.

The greater part of the focus of this redesign was audience analysis and usability. Several weeks were devoted to determining the intended audience of the website, the theme of the website, and overall content. In setting these broad level design goals, the students knew exactly what they needed to accomplish before construction of the website began, rather than potentially having to scrap a portion of the website after building it. The first several steps taken involved this sort of design.

The first step of the website redesign determined a purpose and theme for the site, and doing an audience analysis. This got the students to think about what they wanted to achieve with the website and how they would achieve it. The analysis suggested that two target audiences exist: current students and prospective students. Each audience has different characteristics (current students have a good knowledge of what TC is, while prospective students might not), so it was determined th

at the website would have to be accessible to both audiences.

TC 361 Class

The next step determined content. The first part of this step involved creating a list of all the pages to be included in the site and a description of what content would go on each. This forced students to consider what kind of text, images, and links would be needed for each page. The next part included creating a link diagram, a visual representation of how each page would link to others. This would help organize the content, and begin to tie the audience analysis in with the content. Some content is only suitable for one audience (current students don't need to know what TC is, for instance).

With a good sense of what content would be on the site, the students then began the next step of determining what the site would look like. They created multiple prototypes, images of what various pages might potentially look like. Potential users of the website evaluated each of these prototypes, and the results were used to combine the best aspects of all prototypes into a single model that would be used for the website.

With the content and appearance of the website determined, it was time to begin the final step of building the website. Various milestones were set for this time period. First, HTML/CSS templates of the final prototype were created, making the actual structure of the website. Next, a content management system was integrated, which would allow for easy updating of the website. All the while, the students and professors obtained the content to be inserted into the site. Finally, the students created documentation for future upkeep of the site.

The class was very project-driven. Each class period saw the students collaborating and working on the website in some form. Professor Lanier acted as more of an overseer than a lecturer throughout the semester, allowing the students to develop ideas on their own while providing guidance as necessary.

Current Senior Projects

  • Conventions of Etiquette in E-mail
  • The Effect of Visuals in Materials Engineering
  • Metaphorical Analysis of an Emergent Discipline: The Discourse of Digital Forensic Science
  • Socialization of the New Hire in the Workplace
  • Single Sourcing: Effective in All Contexts?
  • Increasing Safety in Industry: Step-by-Step Instructional Design for High-Stress Environments

Student Awards

Cynthia Veitch, TC program senior, has been awarded a prestigious AAUW scholarship to support graduate study. Cynthia plans to combine her interests in technical communication and computer science by continuing researching the discourse of digital forensics as she enters the MS program in Computer Science at NMT in Fall 2008. She is the 2008 recipient of the Howard Sylvester award for outstanding student in Technical Communication.

Our students have won awards from the STC Kachina and STC Lone Star professional communities.

Student Publications

Jennifer Bracken, a graduate of our program who is now pursuing graduate studies at New Mexico State University, was a collaborator on a poster presentation titled "Connecting Students with Practitioners through Senior Thesis Projects" for the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) 2008 conference in New Orleans.