University of New Hampshire, Department of Computer Science

Information Technology 502
, Intermediate Web Design

Spring 2020

Jump to navigation

Lessons Learned

Below you will find some of the lessons that teams have reported learning from their Team Projects. Keep in mind that every team project is different, but perhaps some of the lessons others have learned along the way will help you with your own project. Also keep in mind that the items below represent the opinions and perspectives of students who have taken the course before and therefore may not always be consistent with the advice or directions provided by the instructor.

Spring 2020

Team #1

  1. As a team, we’ve learned consistency is key throughout the whole process, where everyone must be equally informed about the layout and format of documents, and about each aspect of the website.
  2. Teamwork played a huge role and thankfully all team members played an equal part in the design process which helped out a lot.
  3. Meetings are more helpful than you think, especially in this semester it is important to schedule an online time where everyone can meet up, since just texting each other in a group chat doesn’t always work.
  4. And with that being said, communication with other group members is most important since you don’t want to forget anything and don’t want duplicates of anything. It’s also important for all group members to be informed of all aspects of the process so they can all contribute with what they know.

Team #3

  1. Group roles are important
  2. Setting deadlines is necessary to stay on track
  3. Good communication with the stakeholder is key
  4. Making sure the stakeholder has all the required resources before developing certain aspects will eliminate wasted time
  5. Utilizing resources such as Discord and GitHub are super useful
  6. Sharing screens when developing will help eliminate user errors, the more sets of eyes on the project the better
  7. Having full control over a site’s server is tough but better in the long run
  8. Working online and not in person sometimes is less efficient
  9. Fully planning out a site using wireframes and other techniques really helps when getting to the coding part of development

Team #4

Team #5

Team #6

Fall 2019

Team #1

Team #3

  1. We learned how to work effectively as a Website design team
  2. We learned that completing the checkpoints in the most thorough way will be very beneficial when a team goes to actually build their site
  3. We learned not to wait until the last minute to communicate
  4. In person meetings are far more effective than working remotely
  5. We learned that time management is important in Website design projects

Team #3

  1. One Lesson we learned from the semester was that effective communication is vital for any group to succeed. Many times we wouldn’t be able to get things done because we were waiting for our stakeholder to reply back.
  2. Another lesson we learned was that everything needs to be planned effectively. Through the help of the checkpoints we were able to plan accordingly and not fall behind.
  3. Another lesson we learned was to start early. Since we started early we were able to finish the website on time and also plan for the presentation. Starting early also gave us time to fix our mistakes and also ask the stakeholder if they are happy with our website before we uploaded it.

Team #4

Team #5

Team #6

Spring 2019

Team #1

Team #2

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Team #6

Fall 2018

Team #1

 

Team #2

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Spring 2018

Team #1

Team #2

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Fall 2017

Team #1

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Team #6

Spring 2017

Team #1

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Team #6

Fall 2016

Team #1

Team #2

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Spring 2016

Team #2

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Fall 2015

Team #2

Team #3

Team #4

Team #5

Team #6

Spring 2015

Team #1

Team #2

Team #3

Team #4

  1. The first thing that we learned is how important communication between team members is. Without proper communication this project would not have been done in time.
  2. We learned the process of making a website from scratch. From brainstorming ideas to making the site.
  3. Another thing we learned is how hard making a website actually is from coming up with the idea to actually implementing the site.
  4. We also learned that working as a team does not always make a project easier but in this case it made the project harder and more stressful.
  5. With our team being difficult to work with our team manager ( kyle ) got to learn some management skills that will help him in the future as well.

Team #5

  1. Usability testing helps reveal issues with the website.
    • If it wasn’t for the thorough usability testing that was done throughout our website design process, some major issues would have gone unnoticed.
  2. Allow more time for website creation and bug fixes
    • Even though we thought that we had provided enough time for the physical creation of our website, we worked until the very last minute to finish our website and there were still some bugs that could have been fixed.
  3. Schedule more time with the client
    • In the end there were a lot of questions that were left to be asked with the client nowhere to be found, even with one of our team members being his roommate. From this, we have learned that it is important to schedule more time with the client and to do so ahead of time.
  4. There is no shame in admitting weakness
    • This was the most important lesson that we learned over the course of the semester and, in a cknowledging our weaknesses, we were able to figure out a way around them and still end up with a sleek and functional website.

Fall 2014

Team #1

Team #2

Team #3

  1. Collaboration
  2. Making Expectations Known Early
  3. Ask for Input and Feedback
  4. Always Test
    • Usability Test
    • Self Testing
    • Testing Other Browsers

Spring 2014

Team #1, Section #1

Team #2, Section #1

Team #1, Section #2

Design Paradigms:
This is something that I was familiar with but did not know the actual name of.
Page Layout:
and how using layout, a designer can guide the user to the goal of the site.
Navigation:
The different types of navigation and their pros and cons.
Form Design:
and how to make a user friendly form that accomplishes the user and designers goal.
Usability:
The importance of combining accessibility, identity, navigation, and content.
Color Theory:
The different color schemes and components of colors.
Youtube Optimization:
How to make videos more presentable in your site.
Web Writing:
The importance of less is more.
Mobile Web Accessibility:
The importance of keeping a site simple when designing it for mobile use.
Search Engine Optimization:
The different components to focus on when trying to get your site on the top pages of Google using keywords and tags.
Usability Testing:
That testing sites throughout the entire process is crucial.
Bulletproofing a Website:
Making sure that your site looks optimal no matter where it is viewed.

Team #3, Section #2

Team #4, Section #2

Fall 2013

Team #1

Organize Content Early/Preparation
One of the biggest things we learned is that we should have organized the content given to us by the sponsor earlier than we did. Our sponsor gave us a lot of content, especially images, and we strugled to divide those into categories until later in the project. This would have been benefitial so that the content could neatly been organized into subfolders, and so that our design work could have reflected our categories more accurately early on.
Better Revision Control for Code
Though Google Docs worked well for us for code revision, we wish we had taken some time to set up an easier system. With Google Docs, we would have to reupload the entire code directory and then someone who wanted to make changes would have to download that whole folder to do so. This was in hinesight very tedious. Utilizing a revision control or collaboration software such as SVN, GIT, or nudgepad would have made things much easier for managing code among members.
Be Open to Learning New Web Languages, Especially JavaScript
One thing we had to do for our project was learn some basic javascript to handle interactivity on the pages. It was a great thing to gain a handle on and is actually used very often in modern web pages. Overall don't be reluctant to dive in to new web languages, as they can usually benefit your page in a magnitude of ways.
Remember to Create a Good HTML and CSS Template for the Site
Create a good template for the site as soon as possible after the design work. This allows you to ensure that things that need to appear on all pages can be taken care of ahead of time so that you don't have to go back and add manually to each page later. We did this pretty well, but did have to go back and change a couple things. You may have to make changes with some copy and paste work, but a good template to start with helps to reduce these problems.

Team #4

Spring 2013, Section 1

Team #1

Team #2

Team #3

Time Management
We learn that by keeping our team on a strict deadline, it helped us to stay on track. We each had different schedules and each had to find a time within our week to get together and work on the project as a group. Time Management played a major role in helping us finish our project on time.
Team Work
Our group was set up in such a way that not one person had a greater say over anyone else. With this approach, all of us had to truly work as a “team” and come up with ideas that were pleasing to the whole group.
Communication
Communication was very important when it came to a project of this magnitude. We each shared our thoughts openly within the group to ensure that we were all on the same page at all times. Outside of the meetings, we all stayed in touch through text messages, FaceBook group, and DropBox to share information and documents.
Prioritization
Our group had to set priorities before we got started with the project. We made sure that we were all fully committed to the project and that everyone carried his own weight. Everyone knew where they stand within the group and knew what was expected of them.

Team #4

Team #5

The importance of time management
Throughout this project our team found time management extremely important. Though the checkpoints provided us with a relative timeline for the design of our website we found it was very important to complete tasks ahead of time incase we encountered unexpected problems. As a group we feel this lesson will be very beneficial when we enter a professional work environment.
How to divide work by skill set
While working on this project we learned how to divide work among a time based on a team members skills. This kept team moral high because each member was working on an aspect of the design they were comfortable with. For example Vincenzo and James were comfortable with HTML and CSS so they were assigned the role of coding for majority of the site. Also since each team member worked on every aspect of the site we always knew whom we could go to for advice based on a team member's role.
Team collaboration and compromise
Working with a team proved to be more difficult than we imagined and issues inevitably developed. Team members as well as stakeholders would disagree on aspects of the design sparking conflict. As a team we learned the importance of collaboration and compromise. We learned that at times each member would need to sacrifice an idea of two in the interest of the rest of the team.
Consistent Validation of HTML and CSS
During the final stages of the design process we began to construct the HTML and CSS for our site. As we completed pages at time we would neglect to check the validity of our HTML or CSS and thought we had a complete design. After validation the page we realized we had used incorrect HTML or CSS and our design would be brought back to almost nothing. As we continued to design more pages we realized the importance of constant validation. By validating often we avoided overwhelming problems by catching the mistakes when they were small and almost insignificant.
Importance of Usability testing
While completing this project we believe one of the most important lessons we learned was the importance of usability testing. In the beginning we thought this task would be insignificant but it proved to be very beneficial to our project. The users we tested consistently pointed out significant confusion in our design that as designers we thought were very obvious.

Spring 2013, Section 2

Team #1

  • Make sure to have clear and constant communication with your stakeholder
  • Do usability testing as often as possible! The information you can learn from your users, or even those who are not users, is invaluable. Sometimes what can seem like a great idea turns out to be less than favorable with the actual users
  • Keep deadlines in mind. It is easy to push back work to when it has to be done. Try to get it done ahead of time!
  • Split tasks up but also make sure to work as a team on a lot of the larger tasks such as the coding so everyone knows what is going on
  • Try to start coding as early as possible, even if it is just a framework of the page
  • Keep on your stakeholder if you are in need of content!

Fall 2012

Team #1

  • Split tasks based on expertise
  • Make one person in charge of files so nothing gets lost and proper additions can be made
  • Let one person be the main coder so everything is consistent
  • Give yourself ample time before the deadline to fix errors that arise
  • Make time to meet as a group because one member may be able to fix the problem another member has
  • Make sure your website is compatible with all browsers

Team #2

  • One lesson that we learned is that we should have left more time at the end of the project to add more little features. If there was more time we could have edited the code more to make it better on mobile devices. Also, we could have made sure that images were a little bit clearer and that they were all the same size.
  • Additionally, we should have taken all of the different browsers into consideration. This was a lesson learned with the coding; some coding is interpreted differently in different browsers. The issue was that when we tried to fix the code in one browser, it would ruin it in another browser. The code presented a problem and we ended up using temporary padding to make the page readable.
  • Furthermore, it was hard for everyone to do the same task at once such as coding. Instead, it was easier for one person to do the coding while everyone else contributed ideas. After talking, we realized that it is hard to pass around code because it becomes tangled and the code can begin to contradict each other. In order to fix this issue, we made Alex the main coder with everyone else contributing ideas of changes that needed to be made.

Team #3

  • Getting the content on the webpage is one thing, getting it positioned correctly is entirely another.
  • Start the website as soon as possible, or you’ll regret how much it will consume your life.
  • Browsers render things differently, check across all browsers and make adjustments EARLY in the programming process.
  • Get a layout and stick with it, not following previously established layouts just makes things confusing.
  • Define roles early in the team, or else no one knows what they are doing.

Team #4

  • Meeting with a client to develop a site design to their needs
  • Working as a group in order to develop a functional website
  • Creating professional documents to aid design
  • Utilizing our resources to gain valuable development knowledge

Spring 2012

Team #1

  • Have a game plan
    • Checkpoints allowed us to think in advance
    • Had our target audience and needs in mind
  • The simpler the better
    • Have a simple and consistent design
    • Use a single CSS stylesheet
    • Limit markup and coad bloat
  • Makes things obvious
    • Make the tabs informative
    • Have the important information stand out on each page

Team #4

  • Start work early! Whether it be the checkpoints or coding for you site, it can never hurt to get a head start. We were able to complete the framework of our site a few weeks in advance of the deadline and it really paid off
  • Keep your goals realistic. The more complicated features you want to implement in your site, the more things there are to go wrong. Only implement features that you know your team can accomplish.
  • Know your target audience. If your target audience is everyone in the general public, you have to accomodate for everyone. You don't want to neglect a certain type of user.
  • Do usability testing. We got lots of helpful advice from our usability testing that we would not have gotten otherwise. Also, do it more than once so you can test any changes you made.
  • Make sure you communicate effectively with your team members. If everyone in the team knows what is going on and what work they have to do, team chemistry will improve and you will end up with a better final product.

Team #5

  • Team Work
  • Google Sites
  • Take initiative
  • Proof Read Everything
  • Time Management
  • Dealing with uncertainty
  • Utilizing Individual Skills

Team #6

  • Let team members focus on their expertise in order to get the best results.
  • Having a team leader was key in our case to make sure everything got done in a timely manner.
  • Making sure at least one person has constant contact with the stakeholder.
  • Procrastination is bad.
  • Referring to checkpoints often to avoid frustration in the end.
  • Keeping the big picture in mind and not just the small details.
  • Usability testing is actually very important for designing a website!
  • Always keep the goals of the stakeholder in mind, not only what we want for the site.
  • The checkpoints are a serious tool for our use, and should be seen as that.

Fall 2011

Team #1

  • Always check with the stakeholder early in the design process to avoid any last-minute design changes
  • Being able to work with a group is a valuable skill gained in this course
  • You may goof off from time to time but you can’t be serious all the time, its always good to just create fun out of everything while being able to get all the work done at the same time
  • Everyone has different knowledge and different motivation for the project, which is why it’s always important to find everyone’s strengths and use it to your group’s advantage

Team #2

Task Delegation
One of the most prominent lessons that we learned during the project was that delegating tasks based on expertise allows group members to focus on one aspect and consequently more easily solve similar problems encountered later during the project. Since we started the project with a much less organized approach, we were able to clearly see our boost in performance which resulted from the task delegation.
Frequent Stakeholder Feedback
We also learned that it is important to receive frequent feedback from the stakeholder. Towards the beginning of our project when we had the less organized approach, we would often put a lot of effort into one portion, only for it to be disliked by the stakeholder, which would make all of that effort pointless. Once we started meeting with the stakeholder a couple of times per week, we were able to have confidence that our efforts would not be for nothing.
Frequent Code Checking
While doing the actual coding, we learned that it is important to be frequently refreshing the web browser translation of the code. One of us would often type several lines of code and then the next time the file was opened in a web browser, there were errors and it was unclear as to where the error could be. Once we started opening the file in a web browser after every few lines of code, we could more easily identify where the error was coming from, if there was one.

Team #3

  • The importance of the overlooked aspects of usability
  • How to work with a stakeholder in a real life situation
  • How to collaborate to make a final product

Team #4

  • As a group, working together on this project, we realized the importance of time management. When we spaced out our meetings and worked on check points long before their due dates we got rid of unneeded stress that comes along with cramming work in at the last minute, and allowed ourselves more time to find and fix mistakes, discuss and try out different ideas, and just overall better our work. Also, because we were working with a stakeholder and they weren’t always there right when we needed them, it was good to leave extra time to hear from our stakeholder in case of a backup or case of confusion.
  • When working with a group and stake holder, communication becomes essentially the biggest role in bringing the project together. Without communication, we never would have made it anywhere in this project and we would still be at square one. Communication comes into play when trying to figure out each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, when scheduling meetings between the team members to work on pieces of the project, when scheduling meetings between the team and the stake holder to show progress and figure out the next steps that need to be taken, when figuring out exactly what it is your stake holder wants from you, when figuring out exactly what it is the team needs from the stake holder, when trying to work out the kinks, and so on. Our team realized the significance of communication and that’s why we tried to communicate a lot and often.
  • Since we don’t all use XHTML and CSS in our everyday lives, this project was a big refresher on how to use them. Since in order to make our website, we needed to use both XHTML and CSS, we had to jog our memories and get the train back on track. It was like digging to the back of our brains and finding the information we needed, and bringing it up to the surface so it was fresh in our minds again and we were ready to use it to not only build, but also improve our website.
  • There was nothing more frustrating than working on coding for hours upon hours and having it not validate at the very end. We learned to validate often, after almost every change, to save us the complications and frustration of not knowing where we went wrong or how to fix our mistakes. If we added a few lines of coding and then tried to revalidate it and the validation failed, we would know that the error occurred in the most recently added script. This simple task saved a lot of time and complications and made our lives that much easier once we realized its importance.
  • Another mistake made that we could have easily avoided was not synchronizing all of our files. We didn’t have a perfect index template before we started building all the other branches and pages of our website which only created more work for us in the long run. We were so focused on getting started and building a little piece of every page that we didn’t realize the extra editing and correcting we would need to do in the end. Also, every time one person edited a certain area of a certain page, the coding would then need to be resent to every member of the team so we were always on the same page, this being that we were all working on our own computers and working through email attachment files.
  • We also found that we needed to do more usability testing than we thought we needed to. We were pleased with our website and we had positive commentary and feedback about it, but then when we went to present in front of the class we were disappointed and caught off guard by what we saw. It wasn’t the exact format we had prepared and worked so hard for. Maybe if we had done just a little bit more usability testing, we would have been able to somehow catch this flaw of a variation of our website on a different device than we had been testing it on.
  • One last thing we learned was how to make our decisions with risk management. When we started our project, we had a completely different idea in mind than the one we ended up with as our final project. With checkpoint number three’s dead line on the horizon, we started realizing all the complications and extra work that came along with trying to create a Marine recruiting website. Since we had already spent the first two check points with this website in mind, was the extra work worth it and should we just keep pushing through until the end, or would the extra work be too much and should we scrap our idea and start from square one? We decided to start from square one, take a step back, and approach this project at a completely different angle. In the end, the extra work we did to make up for lost time focusing on our new idea was much more worth it then the extra work we would have needed to do to make our old idea a success.

Team #5

  • Even though it’s difficult to scrap the code you’ve been working on for weeks, it can be beneficial to completely start over.
  • Real world experience in working with a stakeholder and having another individual list demands that needed to be implemented.
  • The knowledge of how to successfully work as a group to achieve a common goal.
  • A great deal of knowledge about conventional website designs as well as XHTML coding.
  • Start the project early. Sometimes, you think you have more time to finish the project than you actually do.
  • One topic branches out into countless pieces of information, so managing the pieces which should be included can be difficult.
  • Sometimes, you have to scrap the already existing code for the benefit of moving forward.

Team #6

  • Nate Rubin - I learned the importance of planning out the architecture of a site before one goes to actually write the code. In the past concepts such as navigation and usability have been afterthoughts, so seeing how effective it can be to think about these things going into the coding process was really enlightening.
  • Josiah Kelsall - I learned a good deal of how a group project like this works; particularly how hard it is to coordinate meeting locally, with mismatching schedules, and over the internet with google documents. Time management was especially hard with crazy schedules and large amount of assignments on my part.
  • Tyler MacPherson - I learned a lot about the design of a site. I learned that much of the time, simple is better. A simple design makes the site much more usable and effective than a flashy, more complex design. I also learned about getting the most out of the group meetings. With every one having such busy schedules, it was always important to make sure that we got as much done and organized as possible at every meeting.
  • Tim Taylor - Many lessons were learned through the production of this website. First, involvement with any stakeholder needs to be direct and there should be a common understanding of expectations straight from the stakeholder to each member of the team. Also, a clean, simple, professional looking site appearance is often more important than overwhelming the user with technicality. Lastly as others have mentioned, effective time management on a project of this scope is imperative, and should be established early and often.
  • Alexandra Bentas - Working in a group has proven to be difficult and taught me many lessons. Yes, time constraints are important in the production of a website. However, I learned it is most important to have all team members on a uniform platform. Having all team members on a uniform idea and system of production allow for an easier work process. Once all team members are working together and are on track with a particular mindset, production will not only be smoother, but a lot quicker. A team leader can assure this uniform mindset and platform, which is crucial in the productivity of the group. Without proper delegation and management the team will falter.

Spring 2011

Team #1

  • Incorporating different perceptions on the website can be a challenge
  • It is necesary to understand and work with user and stakeholder goals
  • Regular communication between both group members and stakeholders is a must
  • Time management is crucial
  • Everyone should know how to effectivley work together as a team
  • Each team member’s role should be analyzed to determine whether it is a good fit for his or her skills set

Team #2

  • Being Own Stakeholder – Easier Than Having A Real One
  • Common Goals – Person Benefit
  • Communication
  • Create XHTML Framework Before PHP
  • Maintain Security Consciousness when Using PHP and mySQL

Team #3

  • Don’t procrastinate! Saving things until the last minute before a deadline puts too much pressure on you and your teammates.
  • Keep in constant contact with group members and stakeholders.
  • Research and use external resources on the web to add fun and dynamic elements.
    • There are many free applications/resources that will help you achieve a desired design or content element, even if you don’t have the technical skill to make it yourself (example - Issuu, a free flipbook application).

Team #4

Persistence
There were a few times when the team was a little stressed and pressed for time due to conflicting schedules and getting work done for other classes. However, through this project we have learned that keeping in constant contact with the stakeholder would have made our lives significantly easier. Calling once then waiting until a few days go by won’t cut it, one must call and call again until the request is met.
Focus
Being in college there are a lot of distractions one can come across in a day. Our group found that to be quite true. Yet we also learned the importance of pulling out the laptops and buckling down when the time calls for it. Occasionally in the beginning of the project distractions would cause for minor delays, yet upon working through them we really were able to put our noses to the grindstone and get our tasks accomplished.
Have a PLAN
When working with other people there must be a plan. Every person is different, therefore every person works a different way. With a definitive plan set in motion it is easier for everyone in the group to follow along. The checkpoints were very effective with this aspect of group projects due to the fact that they kept us on track. It was much more efficient to work and make sure we hit the desired points while allowing us to keep in our heads that this is our own project.
Have a PLAN B
Not all PLAN As work. Sometimes unexpected events occur and schedules have to be changed. Always keep in mind that at any given point something could take a turn for the worse or just take a turn that hadn’t been anticipated. Our team learned the value of having a backup plan.
Don’t Procrastinate
Along with staying focused and having a plan our team became aware quite quickly that procrastinating only leads to problems. Saving everything for the last minute causes late nights, mistakes, and shabby work. None of those are desirable outcomes for the project.
The “real world” stinks
The “real world” has always been an elusive term. Adults warn children to love being young because when one hits the “real world” there is no turning back. Well, our team found this project to be a glimpse into the “real world.” We had to work with people whom we had never met and work for a person none of us had any familial connection with. Our team had a job and had a semester to complete it. Through trial and error we had to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Team #5

  • Don’t procrastinate! It only makes it harder in the end. Even though it may seem like you have forever to work on the project, the deadlines come up fast and without warning.
  • Meet early and often, both with your group and with your stakeholders. The more often you meet, the easier it is to keep everybody happy and move forward with your project.
  • Even if your stakeholder’s requests can be a pain, the site is ultimately for them, and you need to honor them (unless you can make a really good argument to them, of course).
  • Be realistic. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take it one step at a time. However you want to phrase it, don’t try to do more than you know you can do in the time you have. You only end up frustrated when you have to cut unnecessary things out of your project later down the line.

Team #6

This project was a learning experience for all of us. We had members that had a good amount of experience and members that had very little experience, but in the end we can all say that we all learned these things:

  • How to work effectively with a group.
  • Information about the Town of Bogota.
  • Usability Testing.
  • How to rebuild a site from scratch.
  • Time management.
  • Better understanding of CSS and XHTML.