Extreme makeover: website edition
MNU’s main online presence will undergo a facelift in 2018.
After five years with the same website, the university’s Marketing and Communications Department wants a web platform that better accommodates potential and current students.
“It is our largest recruiting tool,” said Kim Campbell, director of Marketing and Communications. “We know the big questions [students have] are: how much does this cost? Who’s going to be teaching me? Can I get a job when I’m done?”
On average, universities renovate their website every three to five years in an effort to keep up with the changing social and academic perspectives of students, Campbell said.
MNU plans not only to change the website’s content, but its user experience. The change will make it both easy to use and practical.
“The current site is responsive, so it scales across all devices,” Campbell said. “The new site is also responsive, but we really did the wire framing for phones first.”
MNU also hopes the new site will meet the Department of Education’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, making it more accommodating for people with visual and hearing disabilities. This includes features such as high color contrast, large typeface and accurate descriptions for images.
“I think [the website] is a significant improvement as far as what it allows us to do for recruitment,” Campbell said. “So, we all feel like we’ve left it somewhere better than we found it.”
She also said that she was excited about the learning opportunities that this new site presents.
To implement the changes, the university is moving to a new site creation system called Drupal. The current site, Joomla!, does not have all of the capabilities that the Marketing and Communications Department wants to implement.
“We’ve made a huge leap forward in how we’re handling events,” Campbell said. “The current calendar on the [website] is not user friendly, and that’s one of the drawbacks of that particular Joomla! component.”
The new site will have a more cohesive calendar with each event having its own page. The new platform also could allow some courses to use the website as a teaching tool in the classroom.
After some initial outsourcing in order to facilitate the change to the new site platform, MNU faculty and staff have done most of the new website construction, and the Marketing Department has done much of the content curation.
Work on the new site began two years ago with the formation of a committee that received feedback, comments and suggestions from various departments and staff. The exchange continued throughout the process with departments reviewing website content to make sure it matches each department’s needs and to make sure it is inline with the university’s core values.
“I would say the biggest content shift is we’re really trying to make sure our distinctively Christian approach is much more clear on the new site,” said Campbell.
At this time Portal, Moodle, Banner and Newspaper websites will remain unchanged.
Alex Schmitt- More by this author
Alex Schmitt is a History at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and he is also the news editor for The Trailblazer.