Hey guys, welcome back! You might remember that in my last blog I mentioned a study-hall sign-in website, which is part of the main focus of my project, and I promised to come back with more details on that, so here I am. Before I dive in though, I just want to provide some quick updates on my quest for answers regarding the manipulated plane ticket prices.
Last week, I met with the librarians and asked them for some guidance in my research. After a few tries of searching different keywords on the ProQuest Research Library, we came upon an essay on the topic of cookies and how they have been suspected of being used by travel websites to alter prices based on user behaviors. This seems to be a promising starting point, so in future blogs I will dig deeper in how cookies are used in websites to store user data and whether they are used to the customers’ disadvantage.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can finally explain the sign-in website to you. The website was designed so that the sign-in process for study hall can be more efficient for both the students and faculty, so everyone saves time and effort. The current system is that faculty and prefects on duty at each dorm floor would sign everyone on that floor in using a Google sheet that has a list of names and a dropdown next to each person’s name for each half of study hall. So to sign a person in, you have to first locate the person on the list and then find the location from the long dropdown of about 20 items. The problem with the current system is that, for the students, they always have to sign in with the dorm parents regardless of their location on campus. For example, if they want to study in the library, and they are already in the library, they still have to run upstairs to check in. Also when they get upstairs, they will sometimes find a long line of people waiting to be signed in, because the system used is difficult to navigate. For the teachers, because crowds tend to form, a lot of unnecessary stress is put on them. With the new system, there will be two pages, one for the students, one for the faculty/prefect. Students will choose where they want to be for study hall on their own devices. Then, people on duty at each location will be in charge of making sure that people who have signed themselves in to those locations are indeed there and will indicate that by simply clicking a confirm button on their page. On all the administrative pages, there will two tabs, one for those signed in not confirmed, and one for those already confirmed, so it will be very clear and easy to manage.
After getting to know what the website does, let me tell you a little bit about where we are in building it and what my future steps are. Last year when we left, we had the structure of the system built. The student page functioned for students to sign themselves in once, but did not allow them to change/update their location, nor did it put a time limit on when the students could sign in. The faculty page did its job as well, but only for select locations, if I remembered correctly. Another essential piece that was missing was the log in. We had been working on a Google sign-in, but we were having trouble getting it to function. The mismatch between people’s names and email addresses complicated the situation. Also, the overall user experience in terms of aesthetics was not great. We did not put in a lot of styling elements, so the pages were just blank backgrounds with the default fonts.
This year, as soon as we came back we encountered another problem which was that new students were not in our database, and the dorms of people changed, so we first had to update our database. We tackled the Google-sign-in piece, and since we updated our database, we paid special attention to making sure that the emails were matched with the names. We fixed the student page, so people could change their locations until 7:25pm for the first half of study hall and 8:25pm for the second half. We also enabled the administrative page for all locations.
One of the main focuses right now is to secure the site and make it prettier. To do that, I have been looking up webpage color palettes and fonts that match the theme of our site and experimenting with them. Hopefully soon we will finish up the website and engage in conversations with faculty members about their opinions regarding the page before running a test trial of the system at a selected dorm.
Silkalns, Aigars. How to Make a WordPress Website Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners. Colorlib, 12 Sept. 2018, colorlib.com/wp/how-to-make-a-website/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2018.