Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC)

APPIC serves the community of professional psychologists by helping to match graduate students in the field with programs Thumbnail image of APPIC home pageoffering internships and postdoctoral fellowships nationwide. But their first-generation Website, with over 180 pages and no clear sense of design or organization, was not up to the job. Thumbnail image of APPIC Directory Online screenAnother key part of the site—APPIC's online directory of programs in the field—also was not meeting expectations. Even though APPIC and APPIC member program staff had to make frequent and time-sensitive changes to information contained in the Directory Online, the existing administrative application did not support this need. And most crucially, the directory was slow and often unreliable, both for people searching the database of programs and for support staff using the administrative tool. 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.

Website Re-design

Thumbnail image of APPIC website sitemap pdf document

Detailed content analysis and in-depth client interviews provided a basis for creating a coherent information architecture and a universal navigation system, both lacking in the previous Website. A screen matrix listing all screen content and functional elements as well as a content map matching existing content from the original Website to the new structure helped to reduce the burden on APPIC of rewriting content or creating new copy wherever existing content could be reused.

Thumbnail image of APPIC website screen matrix and content match pdf document

For the Website, I completely reorganized the information structure—a change that reduced the overall number of pages to 130—and developed a global navigation strategy that allowed users to find what they needed immediately, from anywhere on the site. I also oversaw the creation of a new look and feel that was professional but not graphically overwhelming, and which allowed pages to load faster and improved overall efficiency. In support of the information architecture task and to assist APPIC in the creation of new content, I conducted a complete content analysis of the existing Website, 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 Website that works better both for the students and institutions the center tries to serve. Finally, I did all of the production artwork (cutting and optimizing graphics from the original photoshop documents) and initial HTML markup, including creation of the Dreamweaver templates that permit the Client to update and add new pages and content without fear of compromising the page layout.

Directory Online Implementation

Thumbnail image of APPIC Directory Online specification pdf document

The Directory Online specification informed the creation of the data model, as well as all elements of form design for both the publicly available search functionality and the restricted access administrative functions.

For the Directory Online, we used ASP programming with a SQL Server database to create a faster system. Based upon specifications that we developed and I documented by analysing the previously existing application and data model, I helped revise and define the data model to accommodate new functionalities and make the data model more efficient. I also created a more rational and intuitive interface that meshed with the look and feel of the site as a whole, including creating new form layout and HTML markup. 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 offers 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.