Eight Years Stagnant, CSU Website Redone in One Weekend by IT Guy

Student Union Site Remodeled for First Time Since 2007

The contemporary design rejects the post-ironic retro aesthetic of its predecessor. Screenshot courtesy of the new CSU Website.

The Concordia Student Union’s almost decade-old website will be officially replaced this semester for the first time since the software running it became obsolete in 2007, CSU IT Coordinator Filip Pietruszewski told The Link.

A CSU IT committee formed at the beginning of the last academic year drew up a plan for a new website but wound up with a list of requirements that weren’t within their budget.

According to Pietruszewski, the committee “came up with [an extensive] document describing this massive, fancy website,” outlining their needs before opening a tender process and asking companies to send in proposals. The lowest quote for the website was $150,000 and the most expensive was upwards of half a million.

According to Pietruszewski, the estimate ran so high because of the extensive features requested. “In that [website] description, you could find a description of Dropbox and Google Drive and somewhere along the line you would find a description of Skype,” he said.

“The websites that were proposed were more [like] student hubs, similar to what MyConcordia does, where students could log in and have access to a bunch of features,” CSU VP Student Life Charles Bourassa said of the original proposal.

Pietruszewski said he thought the extensive time spent planning the website “could have been avoided if they had taken a more realistic approach to the features that they wanted, rather than [asking for] everything and the kitchen sink.”

The project was scrapped when it was shown to not be financially feasible.

After more than a year of debating requirements for the site, the issue was more or less resolved after the IT Coordinator decided he had had enough.

“I was really frustrated, and I decided that weekend to make a new website,” he explained. “I showed it to them. I was like, ‘This is what you guys need and [it’s free]. And it can go live immediately.’ Luckily, Charles Bourassa was like, ‘Good idea, go for it.’”

After additional work was done by CSU graphic designer Laurence Pilon on the visual presentation of the website and CSU communications coordinator Nima Jalalvandi did additional web programming, the website soft-launched on Dec. 18.

There is no official launch date planned for the new website, but according to Bourassa, it will “probably be more whole, definitely by the end of the semester,” and will “look much, much better in terms of content” in February.

The new website, at the address csu.qc.ca, runs on Drupal, a program “like Wordpress, but for bigger organizations,” Pietruszewski explained. This will allow it to be consistently updated more easily because it’s a supported platform, as opposed to the older website, which was built from scratch.

“Drupal is pretty open-ended in terms of where you can take it, in comparison with the platform we had before, which was built from the ground up,” Bourassa explained.

“It was like a maze,” CSU President Ben Prunty added.