Cleopatra is the University Writing Center’s scheduling system. Students log in to make appointments to get help with their writing. Writing Center consultants see their upcoming appointments (and other assignments), keep notes on what was discussed in each session, and request time off. Managers set the consultants’ schedules and view reports on the consultations.
The system was developed in ASP.Net by the CIS IT Solutions & Support group. However, this group does not include any interface designers, so I worked with them to lay out each screen and craft the application’s HTML structure. Where they thought in functional specs and flow charts, I thought in sketches. I immediately realized that the receptionists’ daily appointment screen was the heart of the application, functioning as a dashboard for the day’s activities. I began drawing what I wanted it to look like, and we made decisions about the application’s logic based on the proposed interface. I liked the notion that “the interface is the functional spec.” The daily schedule page still looks very much like that very first sketch! Once we had the underlying HTML sorted out, I wrote the stylesheet that gives Cleopatra its clean look. We used the Classic icon set from IconDrawer for most of the interactive components, and I based the color scheme on the icons.
Cleopatra is not visible to the public, but CIS has generalized the software for use in other advising departments. You can take a look at the resulting Sundial system at sundial.tamu.edu.
In 2011, shortly before leaving, I spent a few weeks retrofitting a responsive design. Amazingly, I didn’t have to change much.
I’m still working with the Writing Center, now on a freelance basis, to develop the next iteration of Cleo.