Creating a portal like no other
This was a challenging project in which the client engaged App Sparq to design and build a brand new application portal for the entire company. The portal not only had to house all the apps but also allow users to be able to log in with their existing AD accounts.
The client had a number of web apps for different types of users, but they were scattered and were outdated. There was an attempt made at creating a portal but it never really took off because it not only looked ugly but also provided a bad user experience. Because of that most users had simply bookmarked the URL for each app and they would access each app separately. Apart from that, the security in these apps was also not very secure. The security was implemented by simply adding each user's Active Directory username to the web.config file for each of the apps they had access to. This was highly insecure and difficult to manage.
When we were given this task we knew that we had to design a portal that had to be appealing and it had to provide a fantastic user experience. That is why we created a custom layout and theme for the client that is extremely easy to navigate and provides access to all their data in a super user-friendly manner. In order to achieve this, we analyzed the type of data the client had and then determined how we could present it in a way that would allow the user to view and edit the data easily.
We created a left navigation panel that has links to each of the apps along with meaningful icons to signify each app. Users can easily click on the link to access each app. This left panel has been designed in a way so that we can add more apps to it and keep expanding it easily. This panel can also be collapsed so that only the icons are visible. This allows for more space for the actual content if it is required. Each app has been designed with specific filters and lists for that app so the users can easily find the data they are searching for. Users can view data in the form of a list and then click on an individual record to view/edit the details. There is a consistent theme and color scheme across all the apps so that the user experience is seamless across the whole portal.
We also paid a lot of attention to security and made sure that the authentication and permissions were managed easily through the portal. We linked the portal to the Active Directory of the client and automatically authenticated the user based on their Windows ID. We also created AD groups for specific permissions. For example, if a user had to be given read-only access then they were added to the read-only AD group. The portal displays buttons/actions in each app depending on the permissions the user has. That way a user can only view or edit as long as they are in the right group. This way the client can easily manage the permissions themselves without depending on the vendor/developer.
Approach & Effort
Creating the entire portal took about 2 months to complete. However this is still an on-going project. We are continuously enhancing and upgrading the portal. The portal has now become a vital tool for a lot of the client's staff. They use it almost on a daily basis to query data and to quickly respond to customers. We have used a lot of modern tech to build the portal. Some of these techs are:
- Front-End: ASP.NET with HTML and jQuery.
- Back-End: MVC architecture using C# and .NET.
- Database: MS SQL Server.
- Security: Active Directory.
- Testing: nUnit, Selenium.
App Sparq rapidly built a new modern suite of core applications providing Mr. Lube improved operational and customer insights at a cost that enabled the company to get more done than we otherwise could.