Website Taps Into New Technology

Chris Nickels

Colgate University has a newly redesigned website, which launched last Saturday. The new design boasts a variety of features including easy navigation, enhanced Flash technology, an interactive screensaver, a webpage dedicated to the campus’s arts community and much more.

Work on the new design began last January. Director of Web Content Tim O’Keeffe explained why it was time for a change.

“Websites generally have a certain shelf life, and we felt like we had reached ours. We really wanted to take advantage of some of the newer technology,” he said.

One such technology is Flash, which is the main driver of the homepage and allows users to easily access and utilize the site’s more interactive features, like podcasts and web videos.

“Flash technology has spread. Flash allows you to do so many dynamic and interesting things,” O’Keeffe said. “We’re on the cutting edge of college websites in terms of being able to promote our multimedia.”

The new site is also easier to update. The interactive screensaver, for example, automatically updates its information to display the latest news and pictures from around the campus.

“We feel that this [screensaver] is a great way to for parents and alumni to be able to stay connected to Colgate. I’m able to add new photos at any time,” O’Keeffe said.

The revamped design should also allow for easier navigation as well. Various focus groups and organizations like the Bentley College Design and Usability Lab assessed the functionality of the old site and found that it was, at times, difficult for users to navigate. The navigation was consolidated to allow for quicker maneuvering around the site.

“We’ve streamlined the navigation in a way that makes people get to what they want to get to much more quickly,” O’Keeffe said.

Assistant Dean of Admission Katryna Swartwout Ryan was part of the redesign process. She explained the importance of being able to search the site, especially for prospective students.

“Navigation is a big thing for me. If I can’t find information about the admissions office, or I need to contact somebody there if I can’t find it, then I imagine a student would give up pretty easily if they couldn’t find it,” she said.

Senior Associate Dean of Admission Karen Giannino also was part of the redesign process. She stressed the importance of having effective visual images on display for parents, alumni and especially prospective students.

“One thing that we just constantly addressed is the need that prospective students have to see images. They cannot get enough,” Giannino said. “It [the new website] really needs to work with everything else that we do, but it also needs to place. I think it does that.”

To that end, the website now contains a section about the school’s art community, with a link on the homepage. The section includes video and audio of student artists at work, as well as interviews with faculty members and distinguished alumni in the arts.

Giannino hopes that the new arts section will send a positive message to prospective students.

“There’s a huge art scene here at Colgate. There’s a lot to talk about. It makes a statement to prospective students,” she said. The site also appeals to current students. Senior Jess Worby approved of the arts section, for example.

“I like the new emphasis on the arts because over the course of the last year the arts have been exposed in an interesting way at Colgate,” he said.

In the end, the new website is intended to capture the spirit of Colgate for everyone who wishes to explore it online.

“The main thing though is that we hope it will reflect the dynamic place that Colgate is. There’s a lot of energy on campus; we all do so much,” O’Keeffe said. “We hope that the website conveys that energy.”