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Website refresh to follow end of the semester

By Zachary Araki
On May 9, 2017

Media Content Coordinator Ashley Richardson and project co-manager Ryann Green, graphic designer  worked as part of a team that worked on the new website refresh. A committee met monthly to review the project’s progress. The refresh focused on recruitment. The site can be viewed starting May 20. 
Zachary Araki/The Lion’s Roar

A new look for the university’s website focusing on recruitment and responsiveness can be viewed May 20. 

The project began May 2016 and Web Content Management System Coordinator Amber DeJean and Graphic Web Designer Ryann Green headed the effort. A committee met monthly during the process to review the site. The committee included Dean of College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dr. Ann K. Carruth, Executive Director of Public and Governmental Relations Erin Cowser, past Student Government Association President Erin Fernandez, Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Amber Narro, Director of Marketing and Strategic Initiatives Robin Parker, Director of Office of Student Engagement Dr. Pam Rault, Media Content Coordinator Ashley Richardson and Director of Communications and Marketing Dr. Mike Rivault. One focus of the refresh is attracting potential students. 

“There are several components in terms of visibility and utility,” said Cowser. “After studying the current site’s analytics, beta testing with local prospective and current students and reviewing the best practices nationwide, the new homepage and top-tier internal pages will amplify the university’s characteristics of caring and excellence through eye-catching artwork and features designs to appeal to future Lions. Our internal audiences will also be pleased to learn that creation of a My Den page will eliminate the need for navigation across a myriad of pages for logins to various online components.”

The refresh focused on top level, popular pages such as the home page and admissions. Subpages will look the same. Beyond design, changes include a homepage video showcasing the university and a campus life page listing a top five important upcoming events or notices. 

“When it launches, there’ll be alumni stories and we have a few that’ll be rotated out,” said Richardson. “You’ll see some quotes from current students, and so, we’re going to be focusing on that storytelling aspect of great things that not only students but also faculty and staff as well are doing. We definitely encourage any and all to share their ideas for that if something cool happens in your class or you have a standout peer that you think should be featured, that sort of thing. We’re very open, and we’re wanting to show everyone all the great things that are happening here at Southeastern.”

The refresh will also include My Den, a centralized homepage for students, faculty and staff. The page will include social media links, a “How Do I” section, recent news, upcoming events on campus, the calendar and links to webmail, Moodle, LEONet and exam schedule among others. A tutorial video made by Richardson and graduate student Ryan Kenny will accompany the My Den page. Matthew Doyle of KSLU will provide the voice-over. 

“Instead of it being a series of links, what we tried to do is make it a whole home page, a whole home for our students, our faculty and staff on the web,” said Richardson. “We hope that they just bookmark that, save them one extra step when they’re going to do their things.”

Two feedback sessions were held in April for students to test and review the site. The students performed assigned tasks to test if the refreshed site was easy to use. 

“It is going to be a change at first,” said Richardson. “I mean, once you get used to something, of course it’s ingrained in your head but hopefully it’s not that big of a change. A lot of the comments that we got were that the new site was more colorful. They liked the layout of it. It just looked more modern and that excited them. They felt that it was fun but, at the same time, representing the brand of Southeastern. Specifically the My Den page, we had a lot of positive feedback.” 

The launch was planned to avoid interfering with class schedules. The site was designed to be more responsive and mobile-friendly. 

“The backend code that runs the website was updated to a newer version which allows for a better mobile experience as well as additional features,” said Green. “The modification of existing pages to work with the new backend code was slightly challenging but nothing that our team couldn’t handle.” 

The university reviews their site often. A recent update prior to this refresh worked on the search function. Future changes can be expected in order to ensure originality and accuracy to the university’s website. 

“Technology changes by the second these days,” said Cowser. “We are always looking ahead to make sure our content and presentation don’t become stale. Pretty much as soon as we finish this refresh, we’ll start looking at what to do next to keep southeastern.edu ahead of the trends.”

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