School of Information Sciences

BSIS students collaborate with Pitt Business to redesign United Way website


What can four students do given 100+ hours in a two-week period? If you ask undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (iSchool), they can probably build you an impressive, custom-designed responsive website. As part of an independent study project, BSIS students Rachel Lazar, Michael Quach, Melodi Reich and Jasmine White redesigned and developed a new website for Pitt’s United Way that will replace their existing website in 2015.

The project was a collaboration between iSchool students and Pitt Business students to develop a marketing campaign for United Way as part of a course taught by Dr. Robert Gilbert. Beginning in October 2014, Rachel, Michael, Melodi and Jasmine met with students from the business school (Erin Bax and Will Kottcamp) to collect information on the features and design desired for the site. Our students admitted they “spent more time on design than development” and produced a total of four wireframes before beginning to build the new website based on WordPress.

Development took place in just a two-week time span during which the three developers, Rachel, Michael and Jasmine worked closely with Melodi, who served as project manager. The developers encountered a few problems with their server, WordPress and permissions for the site during those two weeks and 100+ hours of collective work, but the students agreed that it was a great learning experience.

Jasmine said she “learned more about WordPress themes by working on the project” particularly about “adding more dynamic content” and “using Bootstrap for responsive design.”

Melodi enjoyed supervising the project “because it has a tangible deliverable” and Mike was happy to learn more about the software development process as he plans to pursue a career in consulting and PHP development.

Their ‘clients’ in the business school were thrilled with the way the website turned out and the speed with which iSchool students delivered the final project. All of the students are grateful to the undergraduate program chair Bob Perkoski and Professor of Practice Dmitriy Babichenko for “encouraging them to get involved,” “making the undergraduate courses interesting,” and “connecting students with projects that will provide practical experience.”

For more information on this and other student projects, visit the iSchool Students’ Projects Blog.

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