The short answer is that CC is an awesome college and our website should reflect that. The web and our use and expectations of it have changed vastly since our last major redesign in 2004:
- the web is the first stop for people seeking information
- desktop and laptop screen resolution (i.e. size) has increased dramatically, while mobile devices with small screens have become commonplace
- the use of video has exploded
- dynamic content has become much more prevalent and therefore, more expected
- tools for getting content on the web have become more accessible to more people
- the web has become a much more social place
We have all worked hard to keep pace with the latest advances in technology and communication, but there is a need to periodically evaluate and update some of the fundamental components of our site. This includes the technology running the server behind the scenes, the information architecture (how things are organized), the contents of the website and the visual design.
Read on for a longer answer to “Why?”…
- The back-end infrastructure is out of date. The primary CC web server is currently running multiple scripting languages, to include Active Server Pages (also known as Classic ASP or ASP), PHP and ColdFusion. The top level sites are primarily running on ASP, which was Microsoft’s first server-side scripting engine, launched in 1996. The most recent version of ASP (3.0) was released in 2000. ASP is no longer under active development and no further releases are planned.
- The information architecture has not been evaluated and refined since 2004; meanwhile, the site has grown significantly, leading to search, navigation and usability issues.
- The current design of the CC standard layout was designed in 2004. While the design still functions reasonably well and has been updated to incorporate more contemporary web features and conventions (social media, easily accessible search, etc.), the overall look is dated. Fonts are too small and significant real estate on current monitors isn’t effectively utilized.
- Due to the distributed nature of web authoring on campus, the site lacks cohesiveness and continuity below the top-level pages. There is a sometimes a deficiency of CC branding and inconsistent navigation location, layout and style are detrimental to usability. Additionally, web authoring is often performed by individuals for whom web authoring is a secondary or tertiary responsibility (e.g. staff assistants, paraprofs, students) and whose backgrounds do not lend themselves to success at web authoring. The current architecture of the site requires the use of specialized software, such as Dreamweaver, Contribute and Photoshop. This creates a significant need for training.
- The Luminis web portal implementation is faltering, due to several factors: staffing cuts, out-dated technology, etc. The status and direction of a campus-wide portal is unclear, and some question the need for one. However, the admission office is eager to implement a portal for recruiting purposes.
While a website redesign is usually interpreted as a visual redesign, our process must be much broader; we intend to redesign visually, architecturally and from a process and procedure standpoint.
- Update the back-end infrastructure. This may include the server software itself, as well has hardware.
- Perform an exhaustive evaluation and refinement of the information architecture to meet the goals of our community. Define a web-authoring process to ensure that content is kept up-to-date.
- Update the overall structure, navigation and visual design of the top level pages.
- Evaluate and, if appropriate, implement a Content Management System and/or web style guide to facilitate authoring and consistency of departmental sites.
- Evaluate and, if appropriate, implement web portal(s), e.g. campus-wide and/or admission.