With their numerous interrelated components, creating and maintaining portals can often feel like a project in itself. This article provides guidance toward managing and maintaining portal-related projects.
Portals with Purpose
Start by clearly articulating the goals for the portal. Try to answer the following questions:
- Be sure to leave enough time in the project plan to allow for thorough testing of every scenario.
- As with many other projects, portals have multiple stakeholders. Keep in mind that these different stakeholders can have different needs, wants, and priorities; all of these factors could significantly impact the amount of time and effort it takes to build, test, and go live with a portal.
- If you are building a portal for the very first time, also leave in some more time to familiarize yourself with the Portal Editor and ease yourself into how the different components (views, methods, queries) work with each other.
Examples and Templates
These can be especially helpful for building portals for the first time, or for grabbing snippets of code that could be re-used in your own custom portals:
- Add pre-built portals via Briefcase Import that could be further customized or used as reference.
- Provision Slate Showcase (via Launch Clean Slate) to see examples of fully functional portals.
- Provision Slate Learning Lab (via Database > Discover Slate) to see content from Slate Innovation Summit 2019's Learning Lab course "Expanding Your Portal-Verse," including lessons that walk through how to add portal components such as tabs, pop-ups, and more.
Dive into the different components and functionality that can be added with custom Applicant Status Portals.
Set a Schedule
Portals serve targeted groups of constituents, and depending on the time of year or admissions cycle, it may be appropriate to add minor edits or apply major updates. Cycle Prep is usually a recommended period during which significant updates or changes to active portals can be planned. Keep in mind your processes and available time and resources, and aim to set appropriate times of the year for portal maintenance.
While XSLT-based portals continue to be supported, the ability to format the portal page using Liquid markup or drag-and-drop content widgets is not available. Some features, such as custom checklists, are only available with views. If you wish to replace an existing applicant status page using a status.xslt file with a portal, you must use views.
XSLT is also less straightforward to parse through and edit, compared to plain HTML. We strongly recommend using the newer Views functionality, as new features will mostly be created in views going forward, and if you are currently using an XSLT-based portal we would encourage you to prioritize migrating to Views.
Designate and Document
If you are working with an external consultant or Slate Preferred Partner to build a portal, ensure that you have clearly defined ownership and delineated all tasks involved with setting up and using the portal.
When building or updating a portal, take the time to document decisions made and other relevant details about functionality added or changed, how items were prioritized, etc. This should be shared with your Slate administrators and other relevant staff. When ownership of a portal has to be handed to another person, or if a colleague has to step in temporarily to troubleshoot or make a quick change, your documentation will help continue to keep portal processes running smoothly.
Eyes on Updates
Enhancements and new portals-related functionality are also added to Slate on an ongoing basis. Keep an eye on channels such as The Slatest News and Slate Scholar for updates and ideas for refining your portals.