Monday Minute, February 22, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

We launched an interim design for the college home page last week, in response to many comments that our previous design made it too hard to find news and information or locate people or centers. We also heard many observations that the home page looked visually busy and static at the same time.

Working with the department heads and the college Web team, and following some of the changes two of our three departments had already made to their home pages, we simplified the home page to increase accessibility to information.

We added navigation bars at the top of the page to enable students and community members to more readily find our programs, centers, and degree programs. We also added a bar on four thematic areas that connect our faculty and centers and that will likely underpin our fundraising efforts in the coming years. The navigation bar on the left did not change much, accommodating those who might want to search by faculty name or to find out information not related to particular programs. At the same time, we promoted the visibility of events and news in a right column, and created a new section in the center of the page that features visual content, such as videos, other Web sites, or landing pages.

This interim solution is in response to the feedback we have received on our previous home page, while retaining a family resemblance to what we had before. The Communications staff has proposed building a new Web site "from the ground up" based on an analysis of the information needs of our diverse audiences -- students, faculty, staff, community members, alumni, and donors -- parallel with a college-wide strategic planning effort that addresses what we want to communicate about ourselves. Until we complete that work, however, I hope this site proves more useful than what went before.