(Worth 20% of your grade; due on May 9, 1:05 p.m.)


Your most substantive assignment of the semester calls for you to develop a new website for a real client. Your work for the client should demonstrate your abilities as a writer, a coder, an information architect, and a usability specialist. Each of you will work with a small group of your classmates to complete this project. This semester, all teams will be working for the same client, who will judge your project as part of a friendly class competition.

Assignment Guidelines

Your work on this project will be governed by a memorandum of understanding signed by all members of your team and approved by me. In your MOU, you should propose a plan that will govern your work for the remainder of the course. At your first team meeting, you should create a copy of the MOU template and begin drafting your proposal.

One of the primary objectives of this assignment is to learn how to respond to a client’s preferences and needs; meeting your client’s expectations should be your team’s top priority as you develop your site. We will share early drafts of your work with our client, and you should incorporate their feedback into your final website and presentation. Your final project folder should contain evidence of this collaborative, iterative design process, including wireframes, draft text, prototypes, client feedback, etc. (Tip: Save everything related to this project!)

Last but not least, your team’s work should be commensurate with an intensive, collaborative, six-week project and should reflect well on yourself and on Virginia Tech.


The primary deliverable for this assignment will be the finished client site, which should be live on the web and ready for the client to review it. In addition, your team will deliver a 10-minute oral presentation to our client that explains and justifies the choices your team made as you developed your site. Your presentation should demonstrate the functionality of your site (how it works) and make a persuasive case for the client to implement your prototype (why they should use it).

Your project will almost certainly include additional deliverables, such as evidence of client feedback, drafts of web content, and screenshots of early prototypes. Your MOU should include a full list of the specific deliverables you intend to produce for your project.

Assignment Checkpoints

To help you stay on schedule, I will meet regularly with each team and will collect draft components of your project on the following dates:

  • April 7: Memorandum of understanding, signed by all members of your team.
  • April 16: Wireframes/mockups of your proposed site.
  • April 23: First rough draft of the site, protocol for usability tests.
  • May 5: Second full draft of the site, with client feedback.

Submitting Your Project

Your project is due at the beginning of our final exam, on May 9 at 1:05 p.m. Please submit all of your team’s materials (usability results, wireframes, screenshots of early drafts, client feedback, or anything else listed in your team’s MOU) by placing them in your team’s shared Google Drive folder. Your individually completed “Team Evaluation Form” should be slid under my office door (Shanks 427) or placed in my department mailbox (#8, located next to Shanks 323) before the due date.

Evaluation Criteria

I will evaluate your project using the following criteria:

  • Audience: What primary or secondary audiences does your client want to engage? Have you anticipated the information needs of these audiences and does your site fulfill these needs? Who are these people and how can you draw them into your client’s website?
  • Information Architecture: Does the site you created reflect the information needs of the audiences you identified above? Does the site have an organizational scheme that is used consistently throughout the site?
  • Longevity: Is the site structured and coded in such a way that it can evolve as your client’s needs evolve? Have you built the site so your client will be able to maintain the site without coming to you for help?
  • Visual Design: Is the site visually appealing? Does the site employ best practices in design, color, and typography?
  • Usability: Is the site easy to navigate? How quickly would first-time visitors be able to find the information they are looking for? Does the site use a responsive layout that works well across multiple devices?
  • HTML/CSS Markup: Does your markup conform to current standards? Have you tested your site on a variety of browsers running on a variety of machine configurations to ensure no one in your intended audience is excluded from viewing the site because of the markup you have used? Does the site pass the W3C Validator tests?
  • Oral Presentation: Does your presentation inform the client about how and why the site functions the way it does? Does the presentation persuade the client that your prototype site should be implemented?