Cornell Tech is a revolutionary model for graduate education that brings together like-minded faculty, business leaders, tech entrepreneurs and students in a catalytic environment to produce visionary ideas.
Cornell Tech arrived at Hop’s door looking for a reliable partner for maintenance support, and we did so well together that Hop also became their development partner for a recent extensive Web site redesign. As you might expect, the Web site for an organization “using technology to reinvent the way we live” is going to be a Web site with all the bells and whistles.
Technical development was guided by the need to balance competing concerns and functional requirements—as is usual with a large organization, there are multiple stakeholders involved in contributing overall direction, functional requirements, and ultimately the content itself. Put another way: the top faculty and admins need to be as pleased as the work-study students putting in the data.
Hop engaged collaboratively with Cornell Tech to identify the many different workflow processes of stakeholders, the features and tools they wanted to utilize, and their plans for the future. This non-technical groundwork formed the basis for overhauling the site’s architecture and database structure: what looks like a minimal site navigation actually represents a complex internal data model.
A tough-to-build but easy-to-use custom control panel interface and workflow allows staff to manage content through status changes and revisions, and review content prior to publication. A strict data / output separation model means a video added once can be re-handled in multiple spots across the site—embedded in articles, used in course descriptions, highlighted on section pages. Academic rules and dependencies about semesters, programs, classes and credits also had to be entirely recreated inside the CMS.
Our work on the Cornell Tech web site involved:
- Design, re-categorization and implementation of various sections to provide a new, user-friendly internal navigation system
- With a growing audience at the gates, we paid special attention to making all content print-friendly
- Storing code on Github and working in a highly complex coding environment
- Implementing statistics that reflect research Cornell Tech has been involved in
- Modeling and remodeling the way content is highlighted and presented to best meet the expectations of the target audience. The home page alone went through several versions in order to gracefully incorporate all the necessary information, which included supporting three news feeds and ensuring that headlines never repeated.
- Implementing EarthCam streaming video of the huge ongoing construction project for Cornell Tech’s new campus, which will house their world-class faculty, master’s and PhD students, and postdocs who work with tech-oriented organizations and companies and on their own startups
Oh, and did we mention that we had to follow some fairly strict and specific laws concerning student privacy and disclosure of critical information? Yeah, we did.
Cornell Tech continues to be one of our more intricate and yet elegant sites. We hope you like the final output as much as we do.