University brings innovation to new website

by Thomas Gentile

Rolling images, links to social media and highly interactive menus are just some of the features on Rider’s new website, which was launched on Friday, Oct. 22, and has received mixed reviews from students.

Rider’s new website has drawn a mixed reaction from the student body.

The site offers more photography and embedded videos, as well as a new and separate web page for Westminster Choir College. The new site also addresses some of the old website’s problems.

Improved navigation and access to Rider’s additional social networking and multimedia sites reside at the bottom of the webpage.

The new drop-down style menus allow for easier use. All sections of the website can be found beneath these tabs. It also includes a new search engine specifically for academic programs in the “Academics” tab. There are more quick links and popular search bars to help find commonly used parts of the site more efficiently.

The flow of the website was changed to showcase panoramic photos that change constantly. The main photos in the sections of the webpage cycle with around 85 to 110 pictures to keep the website feeling new. Videos are now embedded and will be used more commonly in the future.

To connect and interact more with students, the new website links to others such as Facebook, SmugMug and YouTube. According to Jamie O’Hara, vice president of Enrollment Management, the goal of developers was to integrate these new media tools into Rider and the new website. Some of the future goals of the development team are mobile accessibility and updating content at a timely pace.

There are also new sub-headlines near the bottom of the main page that show more news about Rider and an up-to-date events calendar. Clubs will be able to add their events to the webpage by posting a request on the website’s e-mail link located at the bottom of the page.

The University unveiled the new website with help from members of Enrollment Management and the university’s Communication Department, including Jennifer Therien, Lauren Adams, Anne Sears, Joseph Woodhull, Jamie O’Hara, Tara Laposa and Carol Kondrach.

According to Tara Laposa, the “Information Architect” behind the project, these new additions to the site are “a great way to display Rider at its best.”

The innovation process for the webpage started last fall, after students and faculty were asked what they wanted from the new website. By the spring of 2010, two homepage designs were presented. The Rider community was asked to give its opinion on the pages. The results were reviewed again, and the two pages were merged into the current website.

“A website is never done,” O’Hara said of the development process. He went on to say there will always be more improvements and additions to the website in the future.

Students, however, are still warming up to all of the changes. Some say it’s difficult to navigate, while others believe it to be a nice change from the previous design.

“All of my [sorority] sisters hate it because they can’t find anything,” said junior Erin McGrady. “I like it because it’s visually appealing, so I think it will catch new students’ eyes.”

Senior Lauren Gregorio agrees that the new website looks nice, but feels that it’s not as functional as the old one.

“I actually don’t like it,” said Gregorio, an elementary education major. “It is visually more appealing, but I cannot find anything on it. It took me a really long time with other students’ help to find the student teacher information. With the old one, I had everything saved and now those links will not work anymore.”

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