The University of San Diego today launches a beta version of its redesigned website, www.sandiego.edu, concluding more than a year of work on its current phase involving a new-look front page and enhanced section fronts with fresh content and visual elements.
“A university’s web presence says a lot, because it’s a reflection of the institution and what we’re trying to do,” said Christopher Wessells, chief information officer for USD’s Information Tech Services (ITS).
The redesigned site, scheduled to debut Dec. 8, will provide visitors access to “a website that’s more vibrant and dynamic. People who go to it will have a much easier time navigating it,” Wessells said.
The new site is expected to utilize more video, including ones that highlight USD’s core values, an improved visual presence, fresher story content, a virtual campus tour feature and a user-friendly campus map that Google Earth helped create after a USD visit in 2009. Those who view the website via hand-held mobile devices or other media will also notice improved navigation.
Each of the major sections will have fresh landing pages and new content, including an enhanced News Center page.
“The new News Center will be a central place where anyone can go for information on events, latest campus news, Inside USD stories, featured experts and faculty publications,” said Pam Gray Payton, vice president of Public Affairs and the university’s spokesperson.
The current phase of the website redesign continues what USD’s individual schools started a few years ago. The School of Business Administration was the first to update its web presence, followed by the School of Law, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Admissions.
“They’re all excellent sites and the academic community has been pleased with the results. You can definitely see a connection to the university when you look at those pages,” Wessells said. More redesign work remains, he said, including the launch of a Student Life section in early 2011.
Today’s beta launch is essentially a screen shot of the new home page (pictured). Web viewers can click on various tabs that for now will still take them to the older site’s web pages.
“What we hope to gain from this is more insight. If something’s not right, we have some time to modify it,” Payton said.
Wessells and Payton co-chaired an eight-person committee comprised of people across campus that focused on the website’s overall redesign. There were also committees specific to web content, design and development. “This process has been extremely productive and collaborative,” Wessells said. Both praised the work of key employees who have contributed important roles in the web redesign.
“We wanted to get things right,” Payton said. “We had focus groups, people on and off campus, looking at a lot of data and examples from other universities. The development of the website has really taken into consideration the best practices across the spectrum — looking at small universities, large universities, public, private and Catholic universities. I’d like to think that we’ve captured the best of all those, both in the architecture and design of the website. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. It’s been a laborious project, but I think the end result will be something we can all be proud of and will serve the needs of the university for years to come.”
— Ryan T. Blystone