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Clarkson University Communication Students Help Magazine Develop Web Site
A Clarkson University classroom recently acted as the launch pad for an Adirondack magazine Web site.
Johndan Johnson-Eilola, professor of communication and media, said his information architecture class helped develop the "Adventure Planner" section of the Web site for the Adirondack Explorer, a non-profit bi-monthly magazine based in Saranac Lake, N.Y.
The site launched in September and can be found at http://adirondackexplorer.org/adventure-planner .
The class, Johnson-Eilola said, mapped out the infrastructure. "They designed things like the categories that material would go in, the overall site structure, and some of the layout."
After the basic structure was set, Johnson-Eilola said, the magazine needed someone to take the site from concept to completion. Communication Senior Daniel P. Mandle of Chelmsford, Mass., a member of the class, took the project over as independent study for the spring semester.
"He took everything the students had done and worked pretty much directly with Tom Woodman and other staff members at the Adirondack Explorer to implement the site," said Johnson-Eilola.
"The site is more than we could expect to develop on our own at this stage," said Adirondack Explorer publisher Thomas L. Woodman. "Users have been pleased with it and it is functioning smoothly."
"The class, with some important guidance from Johndan, gave us a good overview of the general landscape of what’s happening with websites and a road map for how to develop ours," said Woodman. "We already knew the type of content we wanted on the site, centering on descriptions of recreational outings in the Adirondacks, but the class gave good advice on how to organize the material in a way that would be visually strong and easy to use."
"Dan took the general vision the class produced and turned it into an actual working prototype," said Woodman. "This not only gave us a structure to build on, he helped with work-flow questions that allowed our small staff to begin adding content in a practical way. His development work gave us a great start on the work of actually launching a site."
"Everyone involved in the project was pretty energetic," said Johnson-Eilola. "I think the site came out really well."
The new section was designed to blend with the rest of the Adirondack Explorer site. "That was one of the goals of the design, that it should look consistent," said Johnson-Eilola. "The new section should look a little different because it was a separate section, but it should have the same look and feel. The students worked a lot on that."
Mandle said he learned a lot about building a Web site using a popular blogging platform called WordPress. "That was really the coolest part about the project," he said. "With the Adirondack Explorer project, I really learned how powerful WordPress was."
"The biggest feature about the new site, in terms of the administrative side," said Mandle, "is that they never have to actually edit the website; they never have to change the home page or any of the sub-pages. All they have to do is upload the articles as posts and choose what categories they belong in."
"We need to keep adding content and then develop additional features," said Woodman. "But as it is now, it is already a robust site that gives visitors a rich variety of material that they can use to plan hikes, paddles, ski trips and other Adirondack adventures."
Mandle said it was valuable learning how to work with clients, keep them informed and balance what they want with what is possible, all while "trying to achieve something you’re both happy with."
Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.