Published On: May 4th, 2020
The New York State Association of Transportation Engineers (or “NYSATE”) is a group of transportation engineers from around New York State, most working for the Department of Transportation. The entire state is represented within the group and divided into eleven region-based Sections.
For this project, the goal was to create a website that would allow the entire organization to post their Section’s updates in a blog format. Posts would include information about voting, news, and events – with the most important event being their annual Conference. For the Conference, I was to work with the Section hosting it that year and design a special wing of the website for it.
The major hurdle with this project was collaboration, training, and accounting for old machines. Collaboration because each Section was to appoint a representative to manage that Section’s blog posts, so they needed to have access and an easy to use interface waiting for them on login. Second, training was necessary because many of the NYSATE members heard about WordPress for the first time when I mentioned it. Finally, accounting for old machines since many members of the NYSATE work in government offices, which still are inexplicably running old machines with Internet Explorer on them.
A challenge in and of itself, visitors to the NYSATE website would not be interested in fancy designs and flashy interactivity. As engineers, they requested that the website be simple to use and only house the information they needed. This meant figuring out how to organize a plethora of text-based content throughout the website in an accessible way.
With a dozen Sections all posting information on their specific Section, the blog must be organized well. This means organizing posts into categories for each NYSATE section, and then providing further filtering by including post tags. Not only does this allow for easy blog management, but also allows for flexible displaying of posts on the front-end.
NYSATE has Sections positioned throughout New York State, and on the website, each Section should be given their own area (section) on the website. These Section pages needs to contain a listing of news specific to that Section as well as information on that Section's Board.
With NYSATE spread throughout the state, the website offers the opportunity to provide instant access to important organization documents, including training materials. To display these documents, a PDF viewer was installed on the site. Further, a "Training Manual" page was created to easily access training documents.
Last but definitely not least, Security was an enormous consideration during the design and development of the NYSATE site. The need to secure a website related to the government is obvious, but shortly before this redesign, NYSATE's website was victimized by a hacking attempt. I worked quickly and was able to get things back to normal quickly and without interruption, but we learned our lesson. WordPress security and monitoring tools were to be installed along with an SSL Certificate. In addition, a minimum requirement was established for user passwords and users were required to update their password every 3 months
For convenience, a login form was place in the footer of the website design. This front-end login allowed for NYSATE members to avoid having to visit /wp-admin or /wp-login to enter the WordPress administration area.
NYSATE's annual conference is their largest event of the year. To help promote the event on the website in a way that reflected that year's host stylistically, I worked with the host Sections each year to design the pages based on their instructions.
It would be a real shame if transportation employees couldn't access their site on the road.. For this reason, and because the client expressed that many members work exclusively on tablets, we optimized user experience on all screen sizes.
With Sections located all around New York State and representatives from each Section needing access to the site, I made sure Users had the correct permissions, helped with login issues, and sent occasional password update reminders.
The NYSATE logo was old and, over time, the remaining versions had become grainy and pixelated. I did a vector trace on the logo so it could be displayed easily at all sizes throughout the site (and elsewhere).
NYSATE originall had their hosting through a company that overcharged them for features they didn't need. Moving them to a more appropriate host and domain registrar reduced their hosting and domain costs by over half.