The IIT Institute of Design website has changed. Here’s a summary of what’s new.

New Goals

The new site has three main goals:
1. Introduce ID, explain its mission and offerings, and encourage involvement.
2. Share more of the work done by faculty and students.
3. Increase access to publishing and lay a foundation for the future.

New Technology

The biggest change is behind the scenes. The software that runs the site has been converted to WordPress, a popular, easy-to-use content management system (CMS).

The main idea behind content management is simple—content items that are similar should be in a database. And many pages on a web site are similar. For example, each news story includes a headline, author, date, body text, and often a main image. Rather than formatting a new page for each story, designers can create a single news story template, which displays each news story. Adding a new page is easy—just fill in the appropriate fields in the database. The CMS does the rest—formatting the story page, populating index pages, and connecting to related items.

The heart of the CMS is the database. ID’s site now has databases for News, Events, People, Projects, Artifacts, Definitions, and Courses. Each database has its own index page, so that readers can see the entire collection, search, and filter.

The databases are also linked. (Please see the diagram above.) News stories can include references to People, which will pull in a photo from the People database—and link over to the individual’s page, which might link to related Projects, which might link to related Courses, which might link back to People (e.g., faculty), etc.The goal is to increase links and “re-circulation”—and avoid deadends.

New Content

At the core of the ID site is the new Artifacts database. Artifacts are items produced by faculty and students, including Articles, Books (or links to book URLs), Demos (or links to demo URLs), Frameworks and Methods, Photos, Presentations, and Videos. Artifacts have properties (tags), e.g., Sketch, Prototype, or Final indicating stage in the design process. Artifacts can also be tagged by major theme (e.g., health and wellbeing) or topic (e.g., data visualization). And as design evolves, new tags are easy to add to the system.

A set of Artifacts comprise a Project (along with data about the project). And clusters of Projects comprise major Themes (the global challenges on which ID is focused).

WordPress is flexible, and ID can add new databases as the need arises. In addition, WordPress has another feature—Multisite—which enables creating separate “sandboxes”. Faculty and student can set-up additional databases. For example, future conferences will be handled as mini-sites under the WordPress Multisite feature. That way students will be able to manage the conference site, while staying within the ID site framework.

The WordPress CMS will make publishing much easier for staff and will make it possible for faculty, students, and other members of the ID community to have direct access to publishing—within a shared framework. That change will enable the ID site to become a “content destination”—a place where designers share knowledge, (e.g., Frameworks and Methods). And over time—as publishing becomes easier, more spaces for publishing are opened up on the site, and more people in the ID community begin to publish—the site will evolve into an “online community”.