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thecourseforum landing page
Design by Shirley Chu

Redesigning and Launching a Popular UVA Student Website During a Pandemic

Over the past six months I worked with a team of developers and UI/UX designers to revamp a popular UVA resource: theCourseForum. This student course review platform has been around since 2012, but the site was a little outdated. The original site was created using the Ruby on Rails framework, which is not commonly used among student developers anymore. For the updated version, our engineering team rebuilt the site from scratch with Django, a popular Python web framework. 

This spring, amidst Zoom calls and Slack messages, our team started to redesign the site. We wanted to redesign a site that would not only remain a vital tool for the student population at UVA, but also a platform where people could be honest about their course experiences. 

While this was a very exciting endeavor, we were met with a few challenges. Summer break led to lower commitment from team members, obstacles brought about by the pandemic led to decreased morale, and life was quite frankly just more challenging than before. However, we endured these setbacks and kept our mission in mind. With a new executive team and a remote semester ahead of us, we changed our communication strategy and switched to Discord as a platform for meetings and discussions. We met for about an hour every Sunday and slowly made progress as we prepared ourselves for launch. 

The site has definitely come a long way since we first started planning the redesign. I am grateful for such a committed team and have been challenged as a marketer and designer throughout this entire process. I learned that most of the student body thought our site gained revenue through user traffic, and I have worked to dispel that belief by emphasizing how theCourseForum is a site FOR students BY students. Additionally, from designing a new logo for the site to creating mock-ups for the search page, I have really enjoyed working on a project that impacts the UVA community. 

After many late nights and complications, we finally launched the new version of the site on Monday, November 16th at 6AM. Visit thecourseforum.com to see the new changes!

Shirley is a fourth year at the University of Virginia. She loves coffee, books, and plants. She also hopes that you'll enjoy her articles!
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