The web site for the Office of International Studies and Programs has two goals:
- To provide information about this office including our mission at MSU and beyond, important documents for a variety of international activities, and biographies of those who work here.
- To be an international gateway to other international resources on the web at MSU.
A research-driven process was used as a basis for the design of this website. The methods used in this process include:
- User needs assessment.
- Usability testing.
- Peer analysis.
- Design personas and scenarios.
- Heuristic analysis.
Web Standards and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
This site uses valid XHTML (http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/) 1.0 for mostly semantic purposes but occasionally to solve cross-browser issues, and CSS (http://www.w3c.org/Style/CSS/) for apperance and spacing. When table structures are used for layout their summaries clearly indicate that and the smallest practical structure is used. When read row (by row) across columns these structures give exactly the same result as as a list would. The design is fully optimized to "degrade gracefully." This means that if you turn off images, or CSS, or tables, you still get a fully useable site. Some of the advantages of this approach are:
- Assurance that this site will work on a variety of devices, such as hand-held computers, cell phones, and TV sets.
- File size reduction.
- Ease of maintenance.
- Exposing content to search engine robots and other data-mining applications.
Some older browsers, such as Netscape Navigator 4, do not support these standards. Although the text and basic images on this site should be available to all browsers, those that do not support standards will not render the more sophisticated aspects of this site's visual design. If this site looks excessively plain, you are probably using an older browser, and may wish to upgrade to one of the following:
- Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com/)
- Opera (http://www.opera.com/)
- Internet Explorer (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/)
- Netscape (http://browser.netscape.com/)
This site utilizes the scripting language PHP (http://www.php.net/) in conjunction with a PostgreSQL (http://www.postgresql.org/) database. A dynamic site allows for functionality beyond what XHTML (http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/) provides, and can make the site both easier to use and easier to maintain.