New website launches after year of planning
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 00:09
Duquesne launched its new website aimed to attract more prospective students Sept. 5 after a year of planning.
Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare said the website’s new features include the ability to easily add videos, vertical and horizontal areas for content, multiple areas for photographs and offers more flexibility within the site to provide different types of content, as well as the addition of social media interaction.
She said the website’s purpose is to present an appealing image of Duquesne and better inform prospective students about the university.
“Websites are the number-one marketing tool when people are doing initial searches for a college or university,” Fare said. “The goal for the redesign was to create a site that was easier to navigate for [prospective] students and include more elements that today’s students would expect.”
Fare said the previous site was not effectively targeting prospective students.
“The prior site was much more internally focused on how we, employees, might want to find information instead of being externally focused,” Fare said.
According to Fare, the development process involved just about everyone on campus.
“Public Affairs led the process for the redesign, collaborating intensely with CTS,” Fare said.
The development process began last spring with focus groups of prospective students, feedback from parents of prospective students as well as input from on-campus content managers.
The University then handpicked a committee to collaborate with a local interactive marketing agency, BarkleyREI, to select designs, main elements and general direction drawn from the initial research, Fare said.
Fare said the committee was made up of Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Paul-James Cukanna, Associate Provost for Academics Alex Gregory and Executive Director of CTS John Ziegler, among others.
“Along the way there were multiple points of input from the steering committee as well as the more than 180 content managers on campus,” Fare said. “The content managers were instrumental in getting their pieces into this new system.”
Fare mentioned that the development team initially had planned to launch the new site earlier in the summer, but had to work through “design and technical issues.”
“Our goal was to make sure the site was ready to launch so we put it off till Sept. 5,” Fare said.
According to Fare, the official launch of the site has been “relatively smooth,” save for some minor issues with the servers and links deeper in the site still needing fixed.
“With any big projects there are usually some technical wrinkles to iron out,” Fare said. “When you prepare these sites you do it in an environment that isn’t live, then once you go live you hope that everything works.”
Fare added that she has encouraged everyone to lend feedback on the site and any parts that may not be working. So far the feedback has been good and any issues that have cropped up “CTS has been working really diligently” on to fix, Fare said.
Minor issues aside, the public affairs office could not be more grateful of the team-effort done by the campus to finish the site, Fare said.
“Hundreds of people on campus helped to make this happen,” Fare said. “It truly was a campus-wide effort.”
Second-year law student Jonathan Cutler said the new site does a great job of “branding” the school.
“It has a clear emphasis on the school colors, whereas the last website kind of had a last century look,” Cutler said.
Melissa Carey, sophomore speech language pathology major, agreed.
“The old website was kind of bland,” Carey said. “The new site pops … it’s going to get more people interested in the school.”
Cutler said he thinks the new site design will be positive for any prospective students as well as their parents.
“I think it is most certainly for maybe not even prospective students, but their parents,” Cutler said. “When you’re researching a school, a big part of that is to convince the parents that ‘hey, you could send your kids here’ and having a professional-looking website communicates something about an organization.”
Matthew Pfeuffer, a senior music education major, said the new website has a more personal feel to it.
“The website is not just a stock website anymore,” Pfeuffer said. “It seems more personalized, more interactive.”
Pfeuffer added he uses the school website often for his work-study job and hasn’t had any difficulties with the new layout.
“I had the old site down pretty down pat, but going from the old one to this one seems like it is a lot easier to navigate through.” Pfeuffer said.