New LU website to launch in 2012

Nicholas Paulson

Lawrence University’s Web Content and New Media Coordinator Rachel Crowl seeks to implement a new and more intuitive university website for the 2012-13 academic year. The goal is to launch the website in August 2012.

Throughout this month, Crowl will gather data on how students are using the website. Noting that home pages for colleges are typically designed for prospective students, Crowl noted, “I’m interested in making the website for current students, for staff, for faculty, and for prospective students.” Surveys will be administered in the coming weeks, and will investigate how these groups use and feel about the website.

By February, Crowl hopes to have a working beta web site that users can begin exploring. Students are encouraged to report any problems or dissatisfaction they have. Crowl claimed, “I think the most valuable feedback is when people start using it.” This beta, with multiple new and more intuitive features in comparison to the old, will continue until summer when the old website is retired.

Each department and organization will have control of their own space. Crowl is looking forward to working with these groups to begin building their respective sites, noting that “right now, with all of the student orgs, I can’t do anything. You get your webspace and then you have freedom. Freedom to not know how to do anything or to know how to do something.”

With the new website, “The goal is that the only people who will be using real HTML and Javascripts will be the people who want to use these tools. But most people won’t. They just want to get it up and running.” The emphasis will be on content and not appearance.

The beta period will also be used as a training mechanism for groups making new pages. Groups will be introduced to building web pages with something similar to Tumblr, where the group can choose from a limited number of formats and use those provided pages to display their information.

Furthermore, Crowl hopes to integrate Lawrence Find further into the website. If possible, the ability to find the information provided by Lawrence Find — room and phone number, department position, email and SPC number — will be coupled with a feature displaying any articles on relevant to the search.

Crowl also hopes that the site can have feature-responsive design, adjusting to the computer, tablet or smartphone that the site is being viewed on.