Web Site Redesign and Creation of Online Directory

APPIC serves the community of professional psychologists by helping to match graduate students in the field with programs offering internships and postdoctoral fellowships nationwide. But their first-generation Web site, with over 180 pages and no clear sense of design or organization, was not up to the job. Another key part of the site-APPIC's online directory of programs in the field-was also not meeting expectations. The directory allowed graduate students to search for institutions that met a range of criteria, but the graphical interface did not mesh with the rest of the site and was not easy to use. Even though this section evolved rapidly, staff had to call on a Web provider to make certain changes. And most crucially, the directory was slow and often unreliable.

APPIC called on Merrill-Hall to help the site and the directory better meet the needs of the thousands of people who depend on it for crucial information about potential jobs and employees. Our information architect completely reorganized the site-a change that reduced the overall number of pages to 130-and developed a global navigation strategy that allowed users to find what they need immediately, from anywhere on the site. Merrill-Hall also created a new look and feel that was professional but not graphically overwhelming, which allowed pages to load faster and improved overall efficiency. Finally, we provided a complete content analysis, which significantly reduced revision time by identifying which material could be used in the new site and which could be eliminated. The result is a clean, easy to navigate site that works better for the students and institutions the center tries to serve.

For the directory, Merrill-Hall used ASP programming with a SQL Server database to create a faster system. We revised and expanded the data model to accommodate new functionalities, made the data model more efficient, and created a more rational and intuitive interface that meshed with the look and feel of the site as a whole. Both graduate students looking for internships and programs posting them can better navigate the directory and update crucial information more easily. For APPIC staff, the directory also offer multiple levels of administration. While member institutions can edit only their own data, the staff-even those without programming skills-can automatically update information across all fields. APPIC staff can also change values in some fields, such as pull-down menus, without calling on a Web professional-a strategy that keeps costs lower and gives staff greater control over the information it offers to its members.