Differentiation to attain impactfulness

Posted on Friday, October 2, 2020

Author: Dmitry Kutin, Honours in Computer Science

picture of Dmitry
My name is Dmitry Kutin. I’m in the final year of my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science while working as a Junior Web Developer for the IT Solutions Web Services team here at the University of Ottawa. 

This past summer, I assisted in the development of the website for uOttawa’s Digital Campus Transformation Plan. This experience proved to be invaluable, as I was able to further various aspects of my skill set as a young professional and web developer. With support from my team, I was heavily involved in the design and development of Digital Campus Transformation Plan website. 

Over the course of two months, I spent the majority of the time collaborating on the design and user experience of websites. We held weekly meetings to go over improvements, planning and design for new pages, and presenting new ideas that would differentiate the Digital Campus Transformation Plan website. It was crucial to be able to convey technical concepts in a non-technical manner in these meetings, while making sure the team understood the design and development process from my perspective to be able to adhere to the deadlines. 

The idea for the website was to create something that employed a different look and feel from other uOttawa assets, which meant spending a lot of time researching different designs, and pulling inspiration from other websites, all while maintaining University standards in accessibility and search engine optimization. This proved to be a challenge due to the nature of the project, as the requirements changed when new ideas arose. It was imperative that we employ agile practices to be able to collaborate as effectively as possible. 

A key takeaway was the development experience I gained from this project. Being tasked with creating and styling numerous webpages, it was my responsibility to ensure our ideas complied with University policy. This meant ensuring website responsiveness across all platforms and web browsers, adhering to WCAG 2.1 and AODA standards, optimizing the various pages for search engines, and leveraging the nature of the Drupal CMS to ensure future expandability and easy content authoring for non-technical users. 

I was also able to further my skills with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript while working with Drupal. I spent a lot of time researching and understanding different features that uOttawa’s Drupal installation offered to make sure I was getting the most out of the platform. This also motivated me to develop my skills in different principles of User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI) to ensure that the ideas we were bringing forward were optimal from a user perspective. 

Overall, I had countless takeaways ranging from communication, time management, and interpersonal skills in working with a team with various functional backgrounds, to different development processes, and University web standards. The final product was something I’m able to pride in and is a great example of a successful collaboration between Digital Communications and Web Services. 

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