It was all in a day’s work of a regular IT specialist. My manager got an email, which inquired about the possibility of creating a website portal for a higher-education institution. I was instructed to meet the client for this important opportunity of starting a new project. The basic requirements should be understood fully for us to present a reasonable quote on the web portal application.
For a lean software-development company, I wear different hats at work as an application programmer, business analyst, software requirement / development, delivery manager, and whatever the boss tells me to do. If no one wants it, I am the guy that’s sent for the task.
Together with the client we have drawn a preliminary list of criteria and some basic website portal design guidelines. They are not looking for a fancy site, but just one that is functional and professional looking. Looks come second to these people, but we’ll have to make the portal website appealing too for the users.
After discussion, we basically nailed down the general requirements as follows:
- Website Portal which is accessible for intra-campus users.
- Secure interactive BLOG with Comment system
- FORUM capability for interactive discussion
- Management of multimedia files for upload and download such as audio/video files, images, documents and others
- User friendly interface for easy maintenance of website portal
Since our company doesn’t specialize in the interactive communication solution, we try to scout for some third party software. I came across with pnyxe.com, which offers integrated solution. It has various plugins which can seamlessly work with major CMS available on the market. There are Forum widget for forums, recent posts, comment box system that has features that matches the user requirements. I see, in particular, the use of the DiscussIt system and the ForumIt system to be applicable in this project.
We need to develop a login facility, which will authenticate via LDAP, which will provide information on who the user of the portal. Various users will see what has been assigned by the portal administrator and can view their own stuff only. It allows users to tag and organize the materials to be access by others as well.
The DiscussIt system and ForumIt system could be integrated to the portal website both on the blog section and forum section, respectively. I’ve noted for example that the DiscussIt widget is more than just a simple Comment box for comments, but rather a complete comment system. Interesting features that will enhance engagement of portal users such as author reputation, comment ranking, search engine indexing, single sign on and a social network integration, and whole lot are present.
I believe the pnyxe system is a solution that will enhance the interactivity for a community of users inside the higher-education institution. The widget software could be evaluated for free to reduce risk before implementation. Over-all I envision it to boost faculty, staff, and student interaction which is the central purpose of the whole website portal project.