Improvements continue on university’s website relaunch
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 18:01
During Christmas break ASU launched a complete redesign of the official university website on Jan. 7, following a soft launch for faculty and staff that took place on Dec. 3.
Todd Clark, director of web communications, Eric Vickrey, a web editor, and Terell Pigram, a systems analyst/ programmer said they hope this site will better serve the student body for years to come.
“In October 2010, the University Executive Council decided to invest in the website. Essentially, the website is the ‘front door’ of the university,” Clark said. “Oftentimes the first experience that a potential student may have with our campus, especially those that don’t live around the area. So we really wanted the home page to reflect the brand of the institution,” Clark said.
After funds were gathered, a small six-member committee sent out a Request for Proposal (RFP) and eventually partnered up with BarkleyREI, an interactive marketing agency, in May 2011. Together they created various content for the new website, from site maps to page designs.
“We also had a second web steering committee of about 10 to 12 members, ranging from faculty members, to staff, to marketing and ITS to further bounce ideas off of Barkley,” Clark said.
Clark said that while they will continue monitoring student and faculty response via social media and analytics, the general response has been positive, both from the student body as well as faculty and staff training.
“Anytime you change something or launch something, you’re going to have feedback because things are different. Every new website’s going to have some growing pains, but those are usually only short-lived and everyone is happy most of the time,” Clark said.
One interesting new feature of the website is responsive design, which allows users to experience the full website, regardless of whether they’re viewing it on a computer, tablet, or cellphone, as it detects the current screen width and adjusts content accordingly.
Some broken links were reported. However, they are not truly broken links, according to Clark, but merely outdated ones due to a restructuring of the folder system for certain pages.
“We designed this website for users who may not be familiar with how we’re structured organizationally, so we built all of the departments on the same level. For example, the University Police Department is now in a general folder instead of being inside the Student Affairs tab, so users should update their bookmarks accordingly. We’ve been e-mailing students the new links, but we’re going to update the 404 page on our end to give users tips to find the new link, so they won’t have to wait for an e-mail response,” Clark said.
The group also noted that they plan to spend the year continually updating the website and implementing new ideas to continually improve the site’s quality.
Pigram mentioned the increased use of widgets on the new website, in order to ease content creation.
“With these widgets, people don’t have to resize images in Photoshop, or put their contact information in a particular style, they can just insert their data into the widget and it takes care of everything for them,” he said.
Clark spoke about the new features on the home page, and how they hope to make it an entertaining destination for students, as well as underscoring the importance of feedback.
“I want this page to always be relevant to what’s going on in society, whether it’s the Superbowl or Shark Week, we want to tie things in. I hope it will be something educational and entertaining for people to keep coming back,” Clark said.
Richard Carvell, a retired assistant professor of RTV, who now works part time in the Admissions, Records and Registration Office, said the website has had some noticeable problems.
“Hopefully those will be quickly worked out, and we will become familiar with where everything is located as we use the site more and more,” Carvell said. “I looked at the new site in its pre-launch stage, but I still have a lot to learn about it so I can better help folks who call the Registrar’s Office asking where information is located.”
Jason Davis, a senior public relations major of Jonesboro, expressed some displeasure with the new layout.
“I don’t like the new design. It looks sort of cartoonish and un-professional,” Davis said. “I have had trouble using it at first, but assumed it was because of it being new and everyone trying to log on at the same time overwhelming it.”