Web Site Launches

  • http-blogs-fandm-edu-wp-content-blogs-dir-29-files-2012-04-web-jpg

The wait is over.

A user-friendly, modern College Web site goes live this week.

The redesign of the Web site began more than a year ago, and its launch marks a turning point in the College’s efforts to reach out to prospective students, alumni and parents.

“The Web site is a window into Franklin & Marshall College for those who can’t experience it in person,” said Srirupa Dasgupta, director of Web content in College Communications and co-leader of the Web Redesign Team.

In determining the site’s look and functionality, the redesign team sought advice through focus groups and comments on the redesign blog. The team also surveyed alumni and parents, as well as current and prospective students.

Among its many new features, the site offers:

  • a home page geared to attract prospective students and to engage alumni, while providing information for the campus and Lancaster communities;
  • a contemporary and professional design developed with the goal of recruiting prospective students;
  • “gateway” pages for audience groups — such as prospective students, current students and alumni — that include links most likely to be used by these constituencies;
  • a Quick Links feature that allows users to customize their own drop-down list of most-used links;
  • more stories about faculty and students; and,
  • clear, simple and intuitive navigation.

The redesign is more than just what visitors see on the Web site.

“We not only have a new design, but we have a new content-management system (CMS),” said John Romanski, Web services director in Information Technology Services and the other co-leader of the Web Redesign Team.

“We replaced the old system that drives the site with one that is browser-based, making the Web site owner-friendly,” said Romanki. A brower-based CMS allows distributed responsibility, meaning each department or program can more easily maintain and update their individual pages, he said.

“The result of these efforts is a site that is not only visually updated for a more modern look and feel, but also more robust and flexible technologically,” Romanski said.

Romanski and Jonas Kennedy, Web intern, migrated more than 6,000 pages from the old Web site to the new site.

Other members of the design team are Teresa Hagan, assistant director of Web services at ITS, and Tim Brixius, Web producer and multimedia specialist at College Communications.

Dasgupta and Hagan worked closely with academic departments and programs to update their Web sites. Brixius was in charge of formatting hundreds of images for the site and providing multimedia support for site development.

The launch this week is just the beginning.

“We have established the framework for storytelling,” Dasgupta said. “The story doesn’t end. We can now tell it more easily.”

Soon the site will offer iTunesU, a place to see and hear recorded campus events, a new virtual campus tour and a smart search engine that will offer search suggestions.

The test of a new site is whether users can find what they want and like what they see. The redesign team welcomes your comments, general and specific.

After spring break, the redesign team will survey users to determine how well the site is meeting their needs and what should be improved.

In the meantime, because no Web site is ever finished, if you see mistakes, let the team know. For technical problems, contact John Romanski at john.romanski@fandm.edu or 717-358-4793. For content matters, contact Sri Dasgupta at srirupa.dasgupta@fandm.edu or 717-291-3869.

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