The main tasks involved in the project can be broken down into five phases,
Functional Definition Phase
Survey results analysed to determine website requirements
Nov 27, 2009
Goals, scope and use cases determined
Dec 4, 2009
Comprehensive technical requirements ascertained
Dec 25, 2009
User interface design finalized
Jan 22, 2010
Website design commencement approved
Feb 5, 2010
Coding and database complete
Feb 26, 2010
Content integrated using content management system
Mar 12, 2010
Stability and performance testing complete
Apr 9, 2010
Website launched online
May 14, 2010
Following is the list of members in the team responsible for developing the website,
Dean of Technology
Public Relations Co-ordinator
Chief System Administrator
Student Body Representative
The Work breakdown structure (WBS) for the project is as follows,
Fig 1.1 Work Breakdown Structure
The weekly cost for the project comprises of payment to the programmer and web designer. The programmer charges $19 per hour, while web designer’s hourly rate is $17. As they both are freelancers, their compensation will depend upon the number of hours their expertise is needed in a week. As other members of the team including dean of technology, public relations co-ordinator, and chief system administrator are already on the university’s payroll, their compensation would remain the same irrespective of time spent on this project. The student body representative’s involvement in the project will be minimal due to personal academic commitments. Although the student will not be compensated monetarily, working on a real project would serve as invaluable experience.
One-off costs for the project are one-time investments that do not occur on a regular basis. This includes money spent on security assessment by an expert organization, purchasing a domain name for the website, software licensing and price of server hardware. A domain for the website would cost about $10 (Eitel 4). The server hardware cost would total to around $1500 for a system based on Pentium Xeon processor. The licensing cost of Operating System and other software of designing the website would add another $2000 to the expenses.
Some tasks in a project cannot begin before another task begins or ends. This dependent relationship between tasks in the project is graphically denoted in the Gantt chart using arrow marks (Microsoft 2). For instance, the last task in the project which is referred to as “launch website online” cannot be completed until the previous task “Debugging and incorporate improvements” is completed. This dependency is denoted as FF (finish-to-finish) in the ‘predecessor’ column. Following are two different views of the MS project file. The first one displays weekly costs and one-off costs, while the second one displays the product schedule.
Fig 2.1 MS Project file detailing weekly and one-off costs
Fig 2.2 MS Project file detailing schedule
The following figure 2.3 represents an MS Excel file displaying product schedule, resource allocation, weekly and one-off costs. The next figure 2.4 is bar chart modified to display a Gantt chart in MS Excel.
Fig 2.3 MS Excel spreadsheet detailing schedule and resource allocation
Fig 2.4 MS Excel spreadsheet displaying a Gantt Chart
Title: University Website Development
Estimated budget: $30,000
Estimated duration: 6 months (11/9/2009 – 5/14/2010)
Objectives: Improve communication between students and faculty
Conduct Online examinations
Provide resources pertaining to course as well as general announcements
Inform potential students about the university
Abstract: A team consisting of six members would be deployed to design a website for the university, based on requirements identified from a survey. The website would not only improve information dissemination and academic standards, but also help improve the reputation of the university, thereby proving to be a worthy investment.
The development of the website first involves a discussion with all the key members of the project. Since the website is for a university, students would be the primary users. Hence, the student body representative would be part of the team to give inputs on student needs and preferences. The dean of technology, a professor with a technical background, would be the key technical advisor representing the university. The dean would serve the role of a project manager and be given the authority to make crucial decisions.
The public relations co-ordinator would be responsible for contributing ideas relevant to creating a positive image for the university, while developing the website. The PR co-ordinator would also take care of complaints and handle dispute resolution. The chief system administrator would offer advice in the practical system requirements and common issues that need to be addressed by the website. The admin would also be responsible for maintaining the website, once it is launched live.
The two freelances hired to provide technical expertise are a programmer and web designer. The former would be responsible for coding the system software side of the website, while latter would take care of the external design part. The initial discussion would be a brainstorming session where ideas are exchanged freely. The success of this stage lies in university staff effectively conveying their vision for the website to the programmer and web designer. A survey would be specially designed to methodically determine the requirements for the website. Many higher officials and students would participate in this survey to express their ideas. The survey would consist of questions such as,
Level of internet knowledge
Common problems while visiting websites
Handy features in websites
The data from the survey is analyzed to come to a common consensus with respect to website requirements. The results of the analysis are discussed among the group to organize ideas in a more structured way.
Website Requirements Phase
The goals of designing a website of the university are presented. The website would be required to host online exams, serve as a notice board and a forum for freely exchanging ideas. All the students and faculty in the university would access the website. The bandwidth requirements of the website will have to be calculated. This can be accomplished based on the number of students and faculty members likely to simultaneously access the website. Other assumptions such as power failure and downtime will also have to be taken into account.
The website will also have to be optimized for search engines as potential students may wish to access the university. Therefore, the website will also have to be submitted to search engines and keyword list will have to be generated to effectively accomplish this. Information such as course details, fee structure, campus culture, and photo gallery would have to be uploaded to attract potential students. A professor may use the website to announce a test to the students, while a student may use it to take a test or access resources pertaining to the test. Therefore, use cases will have to be developed to ascertain what every user would require from the website and the nature of their interaction.
Functional Definition Phase
By this time, the team would have developed a rough idea of what the website is going to be. A suitable domain name ending with ‘.edu’ is purchased. A site map would be employed to visually represent these ideas. It would serve as the basic building blocks for the website (Bronte Design 23). Hence, care should be taken to incorporate all the necessary elements are included here. A page list comprising of links to various kinds of information serve as directory of the website; it also helps web crawlers identify the website.
The next step would be to develop a basic wireframe for the website that would serve as the blueprint of the website’s interface (Stanford 3). The navigational elements that would help one access different parts of the website would also be decided at this stage. As there are different kinds of users likely to access the website, each of them would have to be given varying levels of permission to access the website. For instance, a student would be given lesser access compared to a professor, as a student should not be able to change the questions at will or gain unauthorized access to academic information. However, the system administrator would be given maximum privileges, as the admin would be responsible for maintenance and making changes to the website when necessary.
The user-interface is now decided based on the inputs received thus far. The interface should be simple yet intuitive, even for novice computer users. The website should also feature a special interface for visually and audibly challenged students. This would ensure that the university is an equal-opportunity learning environment. Once the team zeros in on a design interface, choices pertaining to software and hardware will have to be made. The progress made thus far is taken up for discussion pertaining. If all the members of the team approve of the decisions, then project moves on to the next phase. If not, necessary changes are made.
Website Development Phase
A basic template for the webpages is created by the web designer. The images that are to be displayed on the webpages are also loaded and integrated to the webpages (Lynch and Horton 2). This would be the skeleton of the website, on which further additions and developments would be made. The programme would develop a database storing student information and log-ins for everyone. Following this, the programme would code the website so as to integrate the database, web pages and software applications need to run the website.
The next stage would be to devise a content management system that would allow authorized users to append information in the website. The PR co-ordinator along with the student body representative would develop suitable content to display on the webpages. Now, the website’s code is optimized to enable web crawlers to easily recognize it (Kobayashi and Takeda 2000). Another meeting consisting of key project members would be convened to get feedback and suggestions. If everything goes through smoothly, the project would go to the final phase.
Website Testing Phase
The phase involves vigorously testing the functionality of the website; broken links and non-function buttons are all eliminated during this test. The website is also put under maximum load to assess it stability. The website is also tested by simulating different cases on different operating systems and browsers to assess cross-platform performance. The system admin would also be trained on performing system maintenance and other aspects.
Care has to be taken to ensure that the website is secure from online threats. Hiring a firm such as McAfee to provide security expertise would a worthwhile investment. During the testing phase, the online security firm would assess the website for vulnerabilities and fix them if necessary. After this, it would award a ‘Hacker Safe’ or equivalent certificate, which serve as safety seal of approval. This gives more confidence to users to enter their personal information (McAfee 2). User feedback is collected mainly to assess the usability and accessibility of the website. A final round of debugging is done and changes suggested in the feedback are made if necessary. After all team members are content with the website, it is launched online and hosted from a powerful server on campus. Backup power requirements for the server are also put in place to avoid unexpected downtime.
Following is a list of typical choices likely to be deployed for a project of this nature,
Web design Adobe Creative Suite 4
Website coding HTML
Database development SQLite
Operating System Windows Server 2008
Server Intel Xeon processor based IBM server
Project Management MS Project and Excel
Project Documentation MS Word
MS Project vs. Excel
Both Microsoft Project and Microsoft Excel have been deployed to chalk out the project plan for the university website development project. These tools would help ensure that the project is proceeding as per schedule and within the budget. A simple Gantt chart can be generated in Excel by manipulating a bar chart (Peltier 3). Following are the screenshots of Gantt charts generated using MS Project and MS Excel,
Fig 3.1 Gantt Chart using MS Project
Following are the two resource graphs generated using MS Project to represent the weekly costs incurred on compensating the programmer and web designer (Tactical Project Management 5).
Fig 3.2 Weekly costs to Web Programmer using MS Project
Fig 3.3 Weekly costs to Web Designer using MS Project
Fig 3.4 Gantt Chart generated using MS Excel
Fig 3.5 Resource allocation, Weekly costs and One-off costs generated using MS Excel
The old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ stands true in this situation. It is apparent that MS project clearly superior and versatile compared to MS Excel. Although Excel is simpler use, it lacks many of the features of MS project. Task dependencies cannot be expressed in Excel. Although weekly as well as one-off costs can be calculated using Excel, it is easier and more practical to calculate those expenses using MS project. Task dependencies can also be graphically denoted on the Gantt chart quite easily (Microsoft 1).
1) The project could exceed the estimated budget of $30,000 due to unexpected one-off costs.
2) The project could exceed the estimated deadline due unavailability of staff or performance lags, which would also increase weekly costs.
3) If the end product does not meet the initial requirements, it could involve hiring new resources to cleanup. The aforementioned risks can be reduced by keeping a close track of the project plan and ensuring that changes are made immediately to minimize the impact of the risks.
Microsoft Project is specially designed to schedule projects and keep track of them, making them superior to Microsoft Excel, especially for huge projects. It is easier to generate Gantt charts and resource graphs in MS Project, as it gets automatically generated when the schedule is entered. Project dependencies can be graphically represented using Microsoft Project. The templates can help cut down time needed to develop a project plan from scratch. It is also simpler to measure expenses and allocate resources. MS Project facilitates resource levelling by identifying unbalanced deployment of resources. It also serves as an ideal solution to test out different scenarios, as it easier to modify the project plan. Project timelines can be easily estimated using MS Project. It also enables better risk management by moving around the schedule to compensate for unexpected delays. The application also improves communication between the team members, as everyone’s role is clearly laid out well before the commencement of the project (Talbot 2).
Works Cited Page
Automated network security audits combined with an extensive vulnerability management portal. (n.d). McAfeee. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Create a Gantt chart in Excel. (n.d). Microsoft. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Create task dependencies (links) within your project. (n.d). Microsoft. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Glossary of Terms. (n.d). Bronte Design. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Eitel, Joe. (n.d). eHow.com. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Export the Microsoft Project Calendar to Microsoft Word. (2009). Tactical Project Management. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Kobayashi, Mei, and Takeda, Koichi. (2000). Information retrieval on the web. ACM Computing Surveys.
Site design. (2004). Lynch and Horton. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Stanford, Julie. (2003). HTML Wireframes and Prototypes. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Talbot, Rich. (2008). The Advantages Of Microsoft Project. Wild West Web Works. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,
Peltier, Jon. (2007). Gantt Charts in Microsoft Excel. Tech Trax. Accessed Nov 6, 2009,