Project management information system

Client: Facilities Management
Platform: MS Project and InfoPath integrated with SharePoint
Delivery Date: May 2015
Description: Department desires Project Management Information System to record and share project information with contractors and vendors.
Features: A fully-featured PMIS including contractor/vendor landing page, InfoPath forms for Requests for Information, Change Requests, and Risk Register submissions. Project home page displays project calendar, project tasks, and project announcements. All communications are linked from MS Outlook to discussion board on site. Gantt chart with project milestones and percent completion can be linked from MS Project and refreshed as needed.
Users: 4

Project home page (click to enlarge):

Change request form:
PMIS Change Req

Resources used for this project:
Building a multifunction InfoPath form
Auto-Generating Filenames for InfoPath Forms
Autonumbering InfoPath forms
Auto-Numbering InfoPath Forms
SharePoint for Project Management
How to build a PMIS with SharePoint

Information on list forms versus library forms:
List forms vs library forms

Productivity tracking

Client: Medical Coding
Platform: MS Access (split accdb)
Delivery Date: February 2015
Project Description: Manager would like to track and record number of reports and time spent per coder, and generate productivity and management reports.
Features: When users open the DB, what they nicknamed “the widget” appears — designed to be small, unobtrusive, and take up minimal screen real estate. Dropdowns make data entry faster and ensure uniform entries. Clicking “Start” records start time and opens a form where they can select a comment about the report if desired. Clicking “Note Completed” enters productivity info into table. Managers can access various reports on employee productivity and workload for various types of inputs, and edit dropdown selections.
Users: 10

The “widget”:

“Working” dialog:

Manager navigation:

Sample report:

Code samples:


Producing temporary parking permits

Client: Patient Services
Platform: InfoPath list form and SharePoint list
Delivery Date: February 2015
Project Description: Administrative assistants throughout organization need to issue temporary parking permits (daily and monthly).
Features: Separate security groups control available dropdown options on form. Submission of InfoPath form creates list item. A repeating section allows submission of multiple permits (list items) from one form. A workflow creates a Word document in a separate library from a password-protected template, using the information submitted by the user. A workflow on that library sends an email to the user with a link to the parking permit document, for printing or forwarding.
Users: 20


Managing parking permits

Client: Patient Services
Platform: MS Access Web database integrated with SharePoint
Delivery Date: January 2015
Project Description: Department needs to accept online parking permit applications, process applications, assign and retract permits, and monitor expiration dates.
Features: Directors can access forms on SharePoint to request parking permits for their staff. Data macro notifies admin when a new application is entered. In back end, admin/manager can assign, retract, or inactivate permits; view unassigned permit numbers; track permit expiration dates; print report of new applications to present for approval; search for vehicles.
Users: 10

Web form page 1:

Web form page 2:

Back end user navigation:
back end user navigation

Manage permits:

Sample code, updates 3 tables when permit is assigned (click to enlarge):

Sample code, updates 3 tables when permit is inactivated(click to enlarge):

Phase 2: Add-on module to track parking violations, determine need for citation after multiple violations, track citation requests

Invoice tracking application

Client: Account Follow-Up
Platform: MS Access (split accdb)
Delivery Date: July 2014
Project Description: Manager wants to track staff activity, bring outstanding invoices to staff attention, and access productivity reports.
Features: Staff can enter a new invoice and its related information, or select from a list; application records time spent working invoice and allows staff to record notes and request a reminder at a specified future time. A subform shows previous notes made and actions taken on the selected invoice. Application creates reminder list, saves to desktop, and emails to staff member and manager upon staff login. Managers can view a list of invoices being worked, remove invoices from the active list, add data from staff timesheet to compare to time spent, edit lookup tables, and access reports on invoice aging and staff productivity.
Users: 6

User Navigation:

Add an invoice:

Select an invoice:

Working screen:

Manager navigation:

Code sample, button code for start work session:
Inv-start session code

Phase 2: An add-on application that will enable staff to submit invoices to manager for write-off, notify appropriate manager, record manager approval, and output reports.

Tracking patient referrals

Client: New Patient Scheduling
Platform: MS Access (split accdb)
Delivery Date: April 2014
Project Description: Manager wants to track and time process of scheduling new patients.
Features: Users can enter information about a new referral, and complete the referral when the appointment is scheduled. Managers can edit lookup table, view statistics and access reports on number of referrals scheduled, time to complete, and referring institutions.
Users: 6

User Interface Screenshots:

PR Navigation

PR New Referral

PR Complete Referral

PR Mgr Nav

Sample Manager Report:

PR Report Sample

Example code: Edit Referral (manager only)

PR Mgr Edit Code

A simple task tracking application

Client: Facilities Management
Platform: MS Access (split accdb)
Delivery Date: November 2013
Project Description: Manager desires user-friendly app to allow patient assistants to quickly record tasks as they go through their day.
Features: For untimed tasks, the application records name of task and date/time completed. For timed tasks, application records start time, awaits finish time, prompts for user initials, records time spent on task. Manager can run report of tasks completed by date, and track which users are completing timed tasks.
Users: 5

Main user interface:
GSA click form

Open-Close task dialog:
GSA open-close dialog

Example code: Open-Close
GSA open-close code
GSA open-close code2

Contact me if you’d like a copy of this database (cleaned) or for a quote for a custom application like this.

What your designer wants to know

Below are some questions for you to consider when planning your Web site project. While not all questions apply to every project, knowing the answers to the questions that are relevant to you will help your project move along smoothly.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Why will they be visiting your website and what will they expect to find?
  • Are they worried about internet security?
  • What special needs will your audience have? Think about:
    • Do they use their own device or are they at a public computer?
    • Will they use desktop computers, mobile devices, or both?
    • Will they have accessibility concerns (visual and mobility impairments)?
    • Should we consider language and literacy capabilities?
  • What is your website budget?
  • What percentage of your budget is for design and development? What percentage is for marketing? What percentage is for maintenance?
  • Do you have a web host?
  • Do you have a domain name?
  • Do you have the login information to access your hosting account?
Marketing and SEO
  • Have you done market research on your product/service to get a list of the most popular relevant keywords?
  • Do you have a budget for marketing your website, or will you be doing your own search engine submission, link exchanges, pay-per-click campaigns, email newsletters, etc.?
The Future of Your Site
  • How do you expect your site to grow and change in the future?
  • How will your content change?
  • If you plan to have frequent or extensive changes, will you make them yourself? If not, what is your budget for site maintenance and updates?
  • What colors do you like?
  • What colors do you hate?
  • What emotions would you like your site to evoke, and what colors do you think would create the effect you desire?
  • Do you have a logo, graphics, and/or photographs that you are authorized to use?
  • Do you have text content written, proofread, and spellchecked?
  • Have you tested your content on others to see if you are communicating your message effectively?
Site Function, Features & Complexity
  • How important is being able to edit your site yourself?
  • Do you need photo galleries? Animation? Audio? Video? Feeds?
  • Do you need custom forms and database applications? Ecommerce?
  • Make a list of the things you want visitors to be able to do on your site, and be aware that all of the features you list will most likely increase the cost of your project.
Sample Sites
  • Are there sites you particularly like?
  • What features have you seen on other websites that you particularly like or dislike?
  • Are there sites or features that you find particularly easy or difficult to understand?

Designing a WordPress site with Amy

I use WordPress all the time, for several important reasons:

  1. WordPress is a free, open-source content management system; it can be set up quickly and inexpensively, making it perfect for smaller-budget clients. My base rate for WordPress setup with a prebuilt theme and basic customization is $300.
  2. Because of its efficiency and cost, WordPress is used by many people; therefore, there is lots of online support available.
  3. Similarly, there are hundreds if not thousands of free designs (“themes”) for you to choose from: see the WordPress free themes directory.
  4. WordPress is a relatively easy system to learn, so people who aren’t Web designers can do some of their own site management.
  5. The fact that WordPress is open source means that many developers have built plug-ins that can add complex functions to your site quickly and easily — for example, shopping carts, membership systems to deliver premium content, event management systems, dynamic forms — all of which work efficiently using the core WordPress functions. These features can be added to an existing WordPress site for a fraction of the cost of paying a developer to design a Web application just for your site. Search the WordPress plugin directory to see if there is a plugin for the feature you want.

So what’s the downside? What you will trade, for all of the advantages listed above, is full control over the specific appearance of your site. It is perfectly possible to build custom themes for WordPress based on client design specifications; however, this will likely more than double the cost of your project. Customizing a prebuilt theme can be a good compromise. This site, in fact, is built using the Twenty Eleven theme with the customizations noted below.

Customization of prebuilt templates includes:

  • A custom header for your site using your photos, graphics, logo, and color choices (or I can design a header for you)
  • Customizing the overall theme color scheme (color of text, headings, borders and backgrounds)
  • Navigation placement (left sidebar, right sidebar, horizontal, vertical, or both)
  • Custom sidebar widgets (a calendar of blog posts, a site search box, your contact information, etc.)
  • Custom footer (contact and copyright information, navigation links, etc.)

Of course your content — the text, pictures, and graphics that are specific to each page of your site (as opposed to items that appear on every page) — is always personalized by you, and presented exactly the way you send it to us electronically.

Helpful WordPress links

Don’t forget to search Youtube; you can find some excellent WordPress tutorials there.

Basic principles of good web design

Here are a few principles to follow when designing your Web site and content. A lot of these suggestions will apply to print materials as well.

The designer’s favorite acronym*:

C Contrast creates visual interest and indicates relationships (or lack thereof) between content. Emphasize differences between unrelated content by making it really different — for example, use a large, fancy font for the title of your page, and a simpler, more straightforward one for page text. Small differences between separate items — like two slightly different fonts on the same page — ends up looking like a mistake rather than a design feature.
A Alignment of design elements on a page creates a strong vertical line that encourages the user’s eye to move through the document in exactly the way you want it to. Every item on the page should be aligned with other items: The left edge of your paragraph heading should be aligned with the left margin of the text, with the left edge of a photo or graphic, etc.
R Repetition lets users know at a glance that they are (still) on your site. Repeat design features like navigation, colors, text alignments, and graphic elements across your pages, and keep them in the same place on every page.
P Proximity helps users know what information is related to each other. Group related information together — for example, the date and time of an event should be next to or directly below the event name, not in another area of the page. Keep sections of text close to their headings, and use more space between the end of one section and the heading for the next.

* This acronym is credited to — and conveyed a bit differently by — the great Santa Fe designer Robin Williams. Read her books, they will help you.

Get people to read your content!

  • Don’t center text unless you have a good reason to, and definitely never center an entire paragraph; left-aligned text is much easier to read, and left-aligned headings over left-aligned paragraphs is a modern, sophisticated style.
  • Use bulleted lists, and keep your items as short as possible.
  • If you have a longer item or paragraph of text, emphasize significant words and phrases. This information will draw the user’s eye and help them determine if the paragraph contains the information they’re looking for.
  • Use short, descriptive paragraph and list headings. Take advantage of the html h1, h2 etc. heading tags to help both users and search engines identify the content of your documents.
  • Leave plenty of white space. Don’t feel like you have to fill up every square inch of the page; documents with adequate white space are more appealing to look at and easier to read.

Pay attention to what others are doing — and not doing

Like every other area of life, there are fashions and fads in Web design – and certain elements went out in the 1990s. Using any of the following (unless you have a very good reason) will make your site look dated and amateurish.

  • Content that flashes or moves, including text headings, marquee (scrolling) text, and animated GIFs.
  • Brightly colored text on a brightly colored background. Not only is it outdated, it’s hard to read too.
  • Overly cluttered pages. Don’t incorporate too many gadgets into your site — do your users really need the local weather, your industry news feed, and AP headlines on your home page? Limit your content to relevant information that helps users do what they came to your site to do, and don’t distract them with extraneous bits of unrelated information.
  • Too much personal information. Unless it’s a personal site, skip the family photo album, your favorite hobbies, and a list of links to all your friends’ sites. Limit links and info to things that are directly relevant to your organization or business.
  • Flash “splash” pages. You may think it’s fancy and cutting edge, but a Flash landing page just means your users have to wait and click an extra time to reach your site’s content. Do you really want to take the chance they may decide to spend that time searching for your competitors instead?
  • Music or video that autoplays. Most users find this annoying, especially anyone who is surreptitiously surfing at work. They will not look kindly upon your site if it outs them to the boss by playing your favorite tune at full volume while they scramble to find the volume control.