Author Archives: Karen

Soft Launch of Institutional Site

Dear campus community members,

We are excited to announce the debut of Colorado College’s new website.

The new site is being introduced in a “soft” launch. It does not yet replace the current site; both the new site and current site will appear online at the same time.  You will find the link to the new site on our current home page and internal home page.  I encourage you to explore the new site and get comfortable with it over the next few weeks because it will replace our current home page on Aug. 22.  Those who have been working very hard on the new web system want to make sure you have the chance to see it in action for a few weeks before the new design replaces the current one.

Please note that frequently updated items such as news and events will only be updated on the new site now.

You will notice that only the CC home page and institutional pages incorporate the new design now. The multitude of other Colorado College web pages, including departmental web pages, are not yet moved to the new look and feel.  Migrating all of those smaller sites over to the new structure and design will be a gradual process over the next year.

Information Management and Communications will work with departments (including group and individual sites) offering assistance with the migration and training on dotCMS, the new content management system software for editing websites.  This process will culminate in your own “soft” launch of your new site, which will replace your current site when you are ready.  More details about how we are going to structure that process will be coming in the near future.

To ask questions about the process, please contact Karen To or Mark Lee, and to ask technical questions, please contact the Help Desk.

Jane Turnis
Director of Communications

Institutional Site Launch Postponed

I hope everyone is enjoying their summers! Just wanted to post an update on the Phase I (institutional site) launch.

The new website has fallen behind due to the changes in IT. Our servers are being configured now and dotCMS won’t be able to complete the implementation until they have access to the servers. We also had to postpone the dotCMS “train the trainer” sessions. The “train the trainer” Content Manager course is currently scheduled for July 19-20. The primary audience for this course is ETS (Educational Technology Services, aka our Help Desk staff and other IT support staff) so that they can deliver subsequent training to the campus. There will also be a Content Architect course July 21-22 (this covers creating templates, widgets and the like) intended for people who will be dotCMS administrators.

We’re hoping to launch the institutional site August 1, with all other sites migrating after that. ETS will likely hold the first dotCMS training for the campus sometime in August and continue regularly through the fall semester.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled activities.

 

In Praise of the New Website

A Different Perspective on Colorado College’s Web Redesign

On the cusp of summer vacation, a hot story made the front page of the final issue of The Catalyst, Colorado College’s weekly student newspaper. The article, called “Web redesign sparks debate over larger virtues,” was written by Kate Hoffman ’14, who opened the piece with a great question: “What kind of an impression is Colorado College looking to send out to those who browse its new website?”

As Hoffman points out, this question is of paramount importance for a variety of groups affiliated with the college. The form and functionality of an institution’s website must appeal not only to that institution’s current students, but also to parents of students, prospective students, parents of prospective students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

Consequently, the new site and those involved in its redesign – namely, White Whale Web Services in Oakland, California, and CC’s Redesign Working Group – face a substantial amount of pressure to please everyone in an acutely diverse audience.

The new website, projected to “go live” by the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, must meet or exceed a mixed bag of criteria.  Functionality and efficiency are most important for those who access the website on a regular basis, like current CC students and staff, while presentation and layout are of more concern to faculty, admissions specialists, and the Alumni Association. Streamlined search features are in the interests of students and parents, who must navigate the site quickly and easily, while the degree to which academic department pages appear reputable and informative is critical for professors, who want contemporaries at other institutions to recognize the excellence of their own. To an extent, the admissions and communications offices are advertisers, and must adequately intrigue and inform prospective students and their parents.

Needless to say, pressures are high for all, and the burden of assuaging them is heavy.

Which is as it should be. White Whale Web Services and the Redesign Working Group certainly have a responsibility to each and every one of these factions. As a result, those of us involved in the process must engage in a delicate balancing act, careful not to prioritize the aesthetics of presentation over the quality of information and vice versa.

The three individuals quoted in the Catalyst piece include a CC student on the Design Review Board and two professors, one of whom is also on the Board and another who elected to be quoted anonymously. All three interviewees express discontent with the redesign process and with the design itself. They complain about a lack of faculty involvement and assert that the site will not appear “academic” enough. They’re concerned that it will not seem as highbrow and “timeless” as other sites. They’re worried that it won’t look like Harvard’s, which “has a very simple design” and “promotes [itself] as the sophisticated and serious academic institution that it is.” White Whale’s design is too creative, they say. It’s too fun. It’s not simple enough.

Unquestionably, these three people are entitled to their opinion. But by restricting its review to those “expressing disappointment in the [website’s] almost-final result,” The Catalyst has generalized three opinions to the whole community. What’s worse – they’ve effectively silenced an entire perspective. Not only does the piece lack the viewpoints of supportive Review Board members, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and students, but it also neglects the insights of those most directly involved with the design process – representatives from the White Whale design company, and the committee of digital construction workers in the Redesign Working Group.

As a rising senior, I admittedly have a crushing bias about the way I’d like my school to be represented. My graduation from Colorado College will continue to carry weight throughout my career. Its name will be printed on my résumé for the rest of my life. I need it to be consistently presented as a serious academic institution; my admission to grad school, if nothing else, depends on it.

For all of these reasons, I couldn’t be more supportive of the redesign.

Controversially, White Whale has encouraged the Working Group to utilize as much student material as possible in constructing the new site. The committee has therefore made the decision to hire its web writers and new media specialists directly from the CC student body. A few members of the community have since expressed certain doubts regarding this idea, and thus doubts about the capabilities of CC students. As a CC student and writer, this personally saddens me, but as a critical thinker-in-training, it has inspired me on principle. In coming to terms with the influx of skepticism, I’ve re-learned an important lesson: to rely on the old “show, don’t tell” mantra in order to stand by my own opinion – that these doubts are completely unfounded.

Throughout my career at CC, I’ve experienced a more concentrated body of sheer talent than I have ever seen, at the college level or otherwise. Student writers (like Laurie Laker ’12 and Kelly Varian ’13), photographers (like Stanley Sigalov ’13), and filmmakers (like Arielle Mari ’12 and Sarah White ’11), have contributed unthinkably impressive work to the community and to the website, demonstrating creative prowess of a professional grade.

I’m also dazzled by White Whale Web Services. White Whale’s webpage mock-ups – including top-level and academic department pages – are nothing short of beautiful. Information is easily accessible, presented creatively, and accented with stunning videos and photographs that only a CC student, who sees the angles of this place through the nuanced lens of one who calls it “home,” could have taken (but don’t take my word for it – see for yourself at blog.coloradocollege.edu/redesign).

Why exclude such talents as these in favor of so-called “professional” writers and photographers? Why distrust us to accurately and organically convey the essence of our home? What better way to showcase the value of a CC education than to display student accomplishments for the world to see?

My pride and confidence in these sentiments is overwhelming.

Hoffman writes, “A website that only highlights some of the greatness that CC has to offer … will not paint a full picture of all that makes up the CC experience,” and points out that “we all chose CC for different reasons.” She’s absolutely right. Colorado College is an exceptional academic institution – a “unique intellectual adventure,” if you will – and it should be wholly and elegantly represented as such.

But like it or not, Colorado College is not Harvard University, and the “larger virtues” we should share with the world cannot be reduced to those that put us on par: we must highlight those values that make us extraordinary. Autonomy. Rigor. Individuality. Progressiveness. Passion. And yes – fun. For what is passion – CC has taught me – but an incite to productivity, fueled by immersion and fun in your field?

There is a reason that past and present students have declined such titans as Yale and Harvard in favor of Colorado College, and an attempt to force the beautiful idiosyncrasies of our values into an Ivy League-shaped box would disappoint me more than any webpage ever could.

Hoffman’s right – we did all choose CC for different reasons.
And come August, we will finally have a face that reflects that.

By Katie Rogers ‘12

Offices, a couple mockups for you

We have a few remaining designs to put in front of you, and I wanted to post these designs for administrative offices so that they can get circulated ASAP.

As always, some accompanying reading:

- I noticed that time after time, offices were using areas of their pages to post ephemeral campus/weather/springtime photography. It makes a lot of sense because they want pizazz, and their services aren’t always so photogenic – so I built some scenery into these templates. I think it’s a great way to get the feel of Colorado Springs, both on- and off-campus, without requiring too much upkeep.

- This template uses many of our previous design elements, so that we can keep the family resemblance pretty tight in this case – since users will be coming from landing pages, search, and from within departments.

- “Offices and Services” tag at top left would lead to the offices & services homepage.

- Content, as you can see, is variable! Blog feeds and videos can all be accommodated on these pages, as well as some very helpful lists, or a localized Quick Search box.

Great! Let me know if you have additional questions,

Janie

President's OfficeHuman Resources

A Whirlwind with White Whale

Whew, I’m still catching my breath from two very full days with Tonya and Janie!

Tonya forged through a 25 meetings with different departments, offices and committees without batting an eye. Most of her time was spent with individual departments and offices, giving them expert advice on their information architecture and content. Thanks to these departments and offices for making time to meet with her to discuss their new sites:

Sustainability, Music, Business Office, Career Center, Sociology, Comp. Lit., Classics, Anthropology, Public Interest Fellowship, Writing Center/FYE, Center for Service and Learning, Economics, Res. Life, IT, Student Life, Registrar, Human Resources, Deans’ Office, Education, International and Off-campus Study, Facilities, Neuroscience, Advancement, English, Legal Counsel

Those of you who met with her should have a good head start on your new sites. As mentioned during your appointments, here’s what all departments and offices should be doing next:

  1. Finalize your information architecture (IA). Send your finished IA to me — I’ll create a skeleton of your site when the new CMS is up and running.
  2. Think about what feature areas (calendar, news, blog, etc.) you’d like on your homepage. If you’re an academic department, you can also choose which homepage design you’d like to use (see Okay, departments: here are three options!).
  3. Work on the static text for your site. Tonya recommends one Word document per web page.

Meanwhile, Janie held an open session for faculty to weigh in on academic department homepages (which are nearing completion), gave two sections of her course on making stuff look good on the Web, met with the library to discuss their presence on the new site, and brainstormed with communications and the faculty members of the redesign working group.

Janie’s presentation is available here: brightness: a quick primer for making stuff look good on the web

Hats off to Tonya and Janie!

More designs for your perusal

White Whale has produced some updated mockups which incorporate much of our feedback from Round 1. This bouquet includes two departmental home pages. The specific content and features of the pages are not final and will be chosen when we’re actually putting the pages together. Take a look at them here: http://coloradocollege.babywhale.net/bouquet/

Changes to note (since the first round designs):

  1. Admission has been moved to the right to make the navigation more intuitive (to reflect the order of the discovery process).
  2. Added “& Aid” to the admission heading
  3. Instead of “In this Section” the section navigation is labeled by the section name.
  4. The semi-transparent background behind the block dates was removed.
  5. Subtle changes to the backgrounds (main navigation and page body)
  6. “CC” removed from “The CC Curriculum” and “CC Newsroom”

Your comments are welcome here, or by email to me.

Content, content, content…

Tonya

academic department workshoppersThanks to everyone who braved the cold weather this week to attend Tonya’s workshops on “Making Your Website Shine: writing for the web and other tips”. Two sessions were presented to academic departments and one to administrative offices. One of each session was video recorded, so if you missed the workshop and would like to watch the video, please contact me for a DVD. The handouts can be downloaded below (using your CC login):

You can use the Website Evaluation Worksheet as a tool to help you develop the information architecture for your site. Sheet 1 is the site evaluation and Sheet 2 is the site inventory.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me or Tonya.

Strategic Recommendations

I know folks are heading out for Winter Break soon, so I thought I’d provide you with some reading material for your plane, train, automobile or couch ride. These are White Whale’s strategic recommendations for CC’s new Web presence. (You’ll need to use your CC login info to download the document.) Much of what you see in the first round design mockups are based on these recommendations. If you have any questions or comments about this document, please send them my way.

Have a wonderful break!

First round designs coming next week!

Wow, things seem to be moving quickly. The working group has been busily learning about the various web content management systems, trying to find one that we think will work well for CC. Our primary goal is to have a system that’s both easy and enjoyable for our many web authors, while being sustainable from a maintenance perspective (i.e., easy and enjoyable for our IT staff).

At the same time, White Whale has taken all the information they gathered during their last visit and mixed and stirred it all with some secret ingredients and will be ready to show us their first round designs next week. They’ll be back on campus Thursday, December 9 and Friday, December 10.

We cordially invite you to attend the unveiling. Here are the details:

First Round Design Unveiling
Thursday, December 9 at 3 p.m.
Cornerstone Screening Room

Hope to see you there!

Dear Colorado College

Hi!  We’re White Whale Web Services of Oakland, California, and we’re delighted to be working with CC on your Web site redesign.    We work almost exclusively with colleges and universities, and if we’ve learned anything in our decade or so doing this, it’s that each of our clients winds up being completely unique and interesting; we couldn’t bring a cookie-cutter approach to this work even if we wanted to (which we don’t). So the first step in any new project is getting to know the client: that’s why we’re coming to CC this week (on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday).

There are six of us in the company (five full-time, and one contract developer), and all six of us are coming to campus.  There are essentially three primary purposes to our visit:

  1. To immerse ourselves in Colorado College’s environment: taking photos, meeting people, asking questions, and generally doing everything possible to get a feel for CC’s unique culture.
  2. To  give you (that is, everyone with a stake in the CC Web site) a platform to present your likes and dislikes, with an emphasis on where you’d like to see the CC site go in its next iteration (and over the next several years).
  3. To make it clear to everyone at CC that this redesign will be community-powered, and driven by ideas, stories, and content created by your own community.  Our role as designers and site architects is to develop designs, strategies, and best practices for a great new site, but we need you to help us fill in the details.

Note from Karen: If you missed the digest messages and would like to meet White Whale, there’s a drop-in session at 4 p.m. on Thursday in Worner 212. If you can’t make that session, please contact me and I’ll let you know which other session(s) might be of interest to you.