For the last few months, a small group of people on campus has been engaged in a redesign of our Web site. I charged the Office of Public Affairs and Web site liaisons with facilitating a complete Web site redesign to tackle the issue of upgrading our content management architecture. Their task was to create a Web site to effectively recruit new students and better serve our campus community, alumni and donors. Their efforts have focused only on those pages over which we have direct control. Many parts of our Web site are, in fact, services controlled by others such as Blackboard, Banner, Bearcat and Bearpaws, to name a few.
There are two goals to this work. The first is to update our content management system to offer us greater flexibility. This will allow us to expand the features and functionality of our site and thereby give us more options in highlighting the many facets of the College. CTS and Public Affairs are in the process of installing the new content management tool. They will then schedule training sessions, targeting offices based on the frequency of their use of the system.
The new content management tool has features that will allow all content contributors to keep the site up-to-date and error free. It will, perhaps most importantly, allow us to have logical URLs in place of the long auto-generated addresses. As a result, we will be able to abandon URLs like http://www.potsdam.edu/content.php?contentID=C54A2C08431D616AED7952F60390C580, in favor of more logical URLs such as http://www.potsdam.edu/admissions/.
Most users will find that this modification constitutes a great improvement to our site’s effectiveness.
The second goal in this effort is the redesign of the site itself. Web liaisons for each area have been working diligently with Public Affairs and our Web-consulting firm, idfive, to evaluate and construct the logical structure (information architecture) for a new site. This work has focused on the needs of each audience served by the site. Our audiences include prospective students and their families, current students, faculty, alumni, donors and the greater Potsdam community.
The first phase of the project (research and evaluation) is now complete. The second phase (finalizing the information architecture and navigation of the site) is underway. The third phase (design) is beginning right now as the navigation takes shape. The proposed launch for the new site is mid-August, prior to the start of the fall semester. As with any major Web redesign, there will be issues that need to be corrected. I hope, even with the inevitable glitches at the outset, that we will find the redesign and new content management tool a vast improvement over our current situation.
If you have any questions regarding the redesign, please contact Mindy Collins, Director of Web Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.