White Whale Web Services: Selected portfolio

Duke Law School

Brown Research

Duke University

New Urban Arts

Haverford College development site


Duke University School of Law

The Duke Law site redesign involved not only a striking and modern new look, but also a completely overhauled site architecture, content re-writing, and custom-built tools allowing Duke Law staff to maintain site content. The site (which launched in April) includes dynamic and user-friendly management tools for news and events (including syndication with RSS), a database of course descriptions and faculty profiles, and a unique photo gallery application that lets administrative users throughout the school quickly and easily post photos from past events.

Brown Research

We were hired by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) to design a site that would bring together the various offices within the OVPR’s umbrella and serve as a window onto the wide variety of cutting-edge research being done at Brown. The audience for this site ranges from corporations and investors interested in new technologies, to researchers and administrators from other universities, to Brown’s own students and faculty. Our design had to leave a major impression on all these groups, and the overall experience had to have a slick, cutting-edge feel.

We learned in our discovery phase for the Research site that there was no institutional knowledge of the full spectrum of Brown research. Self-knowledge is a key to survival in all organisms, biological and institutional; we set about creating a tool, the Directory of Research and Researchers at Brown (known as DRR-B), to help Brown learn about itself. DRR-B is like a Swiss Army knife of functionality: it is a tool for data management, public relations, and self-promotion. The heart of DRR-B is a relational database of Brown’s research faculty, with networking tools that help it promote its own use. It’s also synched to Brown’s human relations database, so address and e-mail changes only have to be made in one place.

Duke Today

Duke Today is a daily news magazine, aimed primarily at an internal audience, launched simultaneously with Duke.edu. Unlike Duke.edu, which by institutional necessity was implemented using an existing CMS, Duke Today is built upon a custom PHP/MySQL database application built by White Whale. The site is powered by a back-end administrative manager that allows Duke News staff to manage the site content, and import news and events from RSS feeds around campus. Data from Duke’s existing Lotus-based calendar application is dynamically included, as is weather information. The site contains a set of “My Links” and “My News Feeds” that are user-customizable, allowing site users to set their own Duke links and RSS feeds of campus news and events. Duke Today exports RSS, both for top stories and News You Can Use (news specifically directed at Duke staff). The site also incorporates a crisis communication system; with one click, the news adminstrator can create an “alert” that will appear in a prominent red bar in the middle of the page. Duke has used this system for severe weather alerts as well as particularly time-sensitive information releases.

New Urban Arts

Our love affair of many years with Providence’s New Urban Arts has created a great deal of value on both sides of the relationship. As a company in residence in NUA’s Westminster Street studio from July 2005 to October 2006, we drew enormous inspiration and energy from the students, staff and artist mentors who called New Urban Arts home. In return, we helped New Urban Arts take its Web presence to a higher, nationally prominent level, and created tools that are helping NUA staff to spread the word about the studio’s activities, and to make connections with a worldwide network of peers, donors, artists, and others with an interest in NUA’s mission.

Our work for New Urban Arts has included a custom Web application for alumni networking, whose goal is the maintenance of relationships formed at NUA into the future, as today’s alumni become tomorrow’s potential donors; a data-collection application that requires visitors to identify themselves and provide contact information before downloading certain particularly valuable resources; and of course a redesigned Web site, and training on simple site maintenance tools, allowing NUA staff to keep the site up to date easily. We have also connected NUA to a world of free 3rd party networking tools: now the NUA site incorporates blogs, photo and video galleries, and a podcast.

Brown Admissions

We were hired to produce a Web site for Brown Admissions after a much larger agency had been considered and rejected because their higher education portfolio was, in the committee’s words, multiple variations on the same design. They didn’t get that from us. We adopted the conceptual goals of clarity, consistency, intimacy and confidence for this project, and set out to make a site that reflects all of these. The home page of the site is built from a series of 26 large-format, striking photos of Brown’s campus; these can be flipped through without leaving the page. All the section index pages feature interactive graphics relating to the particular section’s content; the site also includes an interactive database of questions, a news administration module, and a web application that lets students schedule their own campus visits.

We are currently working on an ambitious, enterprise-wide site redesign for Haverford College that includes a suite of custom data applications for news, calendaring, course descriptions, faculty research profiles, photo and video galleries, virtual tours, and student networking tools. The Haverford site (currently in the buildout and application development phase) should launch this summer. The entire project is being documented in a public redesign blog, currently online at www.whitewhale.net/haverford/redesign.


White Whale Web Services

White Whale Web Services, Inc.   •   1904 Franklin Street, Suite 500  •  Oakland, CA 94612  •  510-808-4028  •  web@whitewhale.net