Web site expected to launch in fall 2010

Above are the two sample designs provided in the survey. Feedback will determine which design will be used.

by Jess Hoogendoorn

Interactivity, navigation and good graphics have become a must-have for any Web site.

This is especially true for universities trying to inform thousands of community members and attract prospective students.

A Web site’s lifespan is only about two or three years, according to Tara Laposa, director of Internet projects at Rider, so it is time to revamp Rider’s site, which was created in December 2007. The redesign process began last fall when the university used focus groups, a Web assessment and an online survey to collect input from the entire Rider community and prospective students. Feedback provided by 479 current undergraduate, graduate, and adult students from both campuses, 162 prospective students, and 124 faculty and staff from both campuses helped the university formulate a plan of how to better its Web site, said Laposa.

“Web sites are ongoing projects that continually need to be assessed and improved,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Our Rider community is invaluable and plays a significant role in making this happen. We look forward to keeping communication flowing to provide our users with the best experience possible.”

Based on the feedback, there were several primary goals that the university would like to achieve with the new site, which is scheduled to be launched in fall 2010.

“Because the Web site serves many purposes to many groups of people, the design needs to send the message of an open, innovative and student-centered community, where students are learning through experience, are preparing for the real world, are globally aware and are making a difference,” Laposa said. “We plan to disseminate information in a much more streamlined and personalized fashion than what is currently available today.”

Laposa hopes to give the site a design that portrays the university as a top-tier institution and is clear and simple to use, while still providing a unique visual experience for Westminster, as well as the other colleges and admissions. Other goals include improving user engagement, interaction and navigation. An example of how the site will improve user interaction may be the use of video and photography and the integration of social media and mobile options.

The site will be launched gradually through several phases. The Office of Enrollment Management will release periodic updates throughout the year about what each phase of the site’s launch may entail and what the expected dates of release are, according to Laposa.

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