The SA website, once a nightmare of spaghetti code and lackluster user experience, has received a header-to-footer makeover at the hands of junior Ben Lapidus, the senior systems analyst at Wilson Commons.

The redesign was centered on making the site more accessible, bug-fixing, increasing SA’s outreach capabilities, and cleaning up the back-end to make future updates easier. Having completed its two-month beta testing stage, it is now open for public use.

Lapidus said students should be excited for “Rocky’s Report,” a new blog managed by SA that will allow them to post updates that automatically get archived on the site. In a Feb. 7 presentation to SA Senate, he suggested these updates could include news, files, and achievements, and said the posting process will be faster as changes will no longer need to go through Lapidus and Wilson Commons Student Activities.

On the accessibility front, all images are now automatically tagged with alternative text to improve usability for people who are visually-impaired. The site also now includes “breadcrumbs” that label what branch of government committees and other subtopics pages fall under. Lapidus said this categorization resulted from brainstorming with junior and SA Secretary of Public Relations Alondra Mendez, who suggested the site should help international students unfamiliar with the US government’s structure grasp SA’s division of power. 

Ultimately, It was the old website’s back-end design that spurred the rewrite. Lapidus said the code consisted of a mess of patches that made training new staff to maintain the site unfeasible, and that the old design caused problems on mobile browsers. 

“Content was stored in a ton of different places, code for styles could be found in one of five places, etc.,” Lapidus said. “What this means is that updates were difficult to execute and larger scale updates were nearly impossible without breaking other functionality.”

The back-end has been redesigned to use a modular structure, so future pages can be built by piecing together any of over a dozen already-designed components. 

“Just like Lego,” Lapidus said.

Senior Senator Ezra Kruger did not share Lapidus’ enthusiasm for the new site. He said the update has been a waste of SA’s limited resources given how little students interact with it, and that he did not want to waste more time discussing it further.

Junior Senator Boris Sorokin, on the other hand, said he is most excited about the structural changes and Rocky’s Report, as it “is the most convenient way for students to be updated about the student government work.” He also thinks the “Open Positions” section of the site will make it easier for students to see which roles are accepting applications.

If students are interested in offering feedback on their experience with the site, they can fill out the SA Website Redesign Beta Feedback form on CCC to get in touch with Lapidus and his team.

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