Today marks my 11th year working at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School. As Director of Design and Web Services, I wear many hats, but my main focus is the law school website. It feels as if I had adopted and raised my own child and watched it grow from a toddler to a teenager.
When I first inherited the site from my predecessor, I had never worked with MODX before. The site was still running on the old codebase from MODX Evolution. To familiarize myself with the platform, I ripped the site apart and built everything from the ground up. I cleaned up the back-end codes and made sure the front-end markups were well structured. At the time when responsive design was still new, I implemented responsive layout starting with mobile first and progressive enhancement.
All the work I put in from the start had paid off in the long run. As the site grew over the years with countless iterations and several redesigns, the solid foundation on the backend, the clean markups on the frontend, and the visual presentation never spawned out of control. Under my watch, I maintained and nurtured every part of the site. I valued our visitors and respected their privacy. I pushed back when being asked to implement third-party trackers, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. I enhanced the user experience based on user studies, accessibility guidelines, and usability recommendations. I improved the design with new technologies such as CSS Grid and web fonts. I worked with developers to upgrade from MODX Evolution to MODX Revolution. I worked with the MODX team to migrate to MODX Cloud.
The site had been through different visions from three deans. The first dean and my supervisor gave me the freedom to shape the look and feel of the website. The second dean entrusted me to build a branding system for his vision: Learn. Challenge. Lead. Based on the University’s branding guidelines, typefaces, and colors, I implemented bright colors, bold typography, and inviting graphics. The site was vibrant and distinctive, yet still compliant with the Mason branding. The third and current dean wanted to tone down the look and feel. We went through several redesigns and ended up with what we have now.
Designing and developing the law school website has been not only my profession, but also my passion. I loved the web when I first discovered it many years ago and that love hasn’t changed. Between my professional and personal projects, I want to continue to make the web a better experience without tracking, wasting time, and frustrating users. my hope is to continue to maintain and to grow the law school website for many years to come.