Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 2/25/09
The New WSU.edu
In this Internet age, a university’s homepage is very much its front door to the world. For example, Washington State University’s homepage receives more than 1 million pageviews and 800,000 unique visitors in an average month.
What are all those visitors looking for? Many are WSU faculty, staff and students who need basic information quickly. Others are prospective students trying to make a life-changing decision about which university to attend. Others are WSU alumni and supporters who want to keep in touch with what is happening at their favorite university.
A well-designed homepage must meet all those needs and many, many more.
A few months ago, after consultation with leaders of our Information Technology and University Relations departments, we concluded that our homepage needed to be enhanced to make it more user-friendly and more in keeping with WSU’s mission.
We decided the new page needs to feature simpler navigation, less clutter, with clear pathways to the most common sources of information. It needs content areas that highlight stories about the exciting work that happens every day at WSU to reach potential students, supporters and friends of the university. We want the content to be dynamic, using video and audio techniques that capture the feeling of exploration and discovery that enlivens this place.
We want content that is focused on the goals of learning, research and building community, which are instrumental to the mission of a modern research-intensive land-grant university and in line with our strategic goals. And we want a page that will provide easy links to all our campuses, Extension, and distance learning, to reinforce an important message about WSU’s broad impact.
The web team in University Relations that was charged with this task has accomplished great things on a tight deadline. The new page and the top-level content linked from it is scheduled to go live on March 6.
Change is seldom an easy process. We certainly expect some concern when frequent visitors go to www.wsu.edu that day and find a page that is much different than the page they used the day before. We think that the page will be easy to navigate and that the adjustment period for frequent users will be a short one.
However, any good webpage is always a work in progress. No matter how diligent and skilled the project team may be, the users may have different ideas. We welcome your comments, your feedback, your suggestions. Please direct them to John Sutherland or John Vleck.