PMACS Web Team

Design Process

How Do I Start?

If you are interested in working with our team to create a web site you will later maintain using our content management system (CMS), your first step is to provide us with some background information about your site, including:

  • A general overview of your site
    What's the nature of your department or program? How is it affiliated with the Perelman School of Medicine?
  • The target audience
    Who is this site for? Do you have both an internal and external audience?
  • Goals for your site
    What do you want this site to accomplish?
  • A proposed overall site organization, including what information will go on the home page and how a user would navigate through your site
  • Any special security needs that you may have
    Does any of your content need to be PennKey- or password-restricted? (Please see our full list of security options for more information.)
  • Any databases or interactive forms that you may need to include
    Do you plan to include any interactive forms or databases? While our team can help you set up simple mailer forms, note that the development of more complex, custom web-based databases may require an outside programmer. (See our services page for more details.) We can help determine what outside assistance, if any, is needed.
  • Events calendar, video, and social networking integration
    The web isn't what it used to be a few years ago! Users now expect information to come to them via subscription services such as Twitter, Facebook, and RSS. We can provide information on the tools that are available and help you choose what's right for you.
  • Design preferences
    This could include a list of sites you like/don't like, a style or color scheme you prefer, any existing brochures, if available, that include your logo or style, etc. We also recommend you take a look at our portfolio.
  • Images you'd like to include on your site
    We do have stock photography and photos of campus available, but we prefer to use imagery that is unique to your department or program, if possible.
  • The name of a single contact person from your office
  • A date by which you will have all of your content written
    This includes the complete content of every page except perhaps for the most time-sensitive information (e.g., news, announcements, or events) which you can provide closer to your site's "go live" date. Don't forget to include search engine "meta" tags like keywords and site description for the home page.

Once compiled, contact Alethea Peña with this information. A meeting may be scheduled for further discussion, as needed.

Please note that we do not begin the design phase until we have received all of your content.

What Happens Next?

Once we have received your content, our first step will be to work with you to determine your design needs. Our preference will be to use one of the design templates we have already prepared. The templates are written using style sheets, so we can make changes to the font type/size, color scheme, and placement of text/imagery fairly quickly to make your site look unique. Please note that this is the only option available for faculty lab and student group sites.

Using a template speeds up the entire design process considerably, which is why we like to start with this option, especially if you need the site to go live quickly. If, however, an original design is warranted, then we can discuss the options with you.

After presenting our designs to you and receiving your feedback, we will make whatever revisions you would like to your preferred design. Once a final design is approved by you, we will begin the process of converting the design to HTML. Once that rendered version is completed and approved, we then add the rest of your content. We then ask you to look over the entire site in detail and make the final approval before going live.

The length of time it takes to go from design to completion varies widely depending on the size and complexity of the site, number of revisions, number of competing jobs, etc. We will give you our best estimate based on the information we have at that time and will keep you abreast of any changes to that schedule should they arise.

The PMACS Design Team operates under an Agile process called Scrum. For more details on how we work, please see our Scrum Practices document.

Please note: some groups within the Perelman School of Medicine receive higher priority, and this may impact the timely completion of your project. We will notify you if we need to make any changes to your project's schedule based on this prioritization.

Ongoing Maintenance

As part of our site design process, we will automatically set up your site so it can be maintained by you using our content management system. Free training is provided by our office for the sites we designed.

[Please note that, if your site was not designed by our team, or if was designed using outdated coding standards, then it may need to be redesigned significantly to work with our CMS in a manner that we can support.]

Using other web authoring software is not recommended in most cases. If you do choose this option, Adobe Dreamweaver is probably the best choice since there are courses offered on campus for Penn employees. Please be advised, however, that our office does not provide support for Dreamweaver or any other web authoring software except for Contribute or our new CMS.

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