New site launched as marketing tool for potential students

10:23:13 AM CDT - Thursday, January 18, 2007

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

After eight months of planning, writing code and testing its usability, WSUís new Web site, aimed at being more appealing to prospective students, will debut Monday, Jan. 22. While the look will be different, the address will remain the same at www.wichita.edu.

In the meantime, faculty and staff can get a preview of the site by clicking on the countdown link at the top of the current, soon-to-be-replaced, home page.

"These changes will establish WSU's new Web site as a primary marketing tool, especially in our efforts to connect with prospective graduate and undergraduate students," said Barth Hague, associate vice president for university relations and co-chair of WSUís public Web site review panel that oversaw the new siteís development.

As the new public Internet face for WSU, the site is also expected to better serve donors, alumni, the media and others outside the university, according to its developers.

The WSU community of current faculty, staff and students will find what they need through myWSU, a link that will remain available through www.wichita.edu. The myWSU portal, which provides access to pertinent information to the current WSU community, went live nearly a year ago.

Two of the major driving forces for redesigning the site, which was requested by President Beggs, was to simplify WSUís Web presence and to help recruit students. The old site had grown into one that attempted to be all things to all people, leading to it having a cluttered look and feel and making it hard to navigate.

To make sure the new site was more efficient and easy to use, developers turned to WSUís Software Usability Research Laboratory, housed in the psychology department and directed by Barbara Chaparro.

The number of links posted on the home page will be reduced, but they havenít gone away. Users can use the A-Z site index or a Google search to find links. Links posted or found through searches will continue to function normally.

The new site will be a work in progress. Not all pages will have changed by Jan. 22, but developers in the university relations office have tried to make it as easy as possible for department tools users to convert to the new look.

Current department tools administrators need to approve their pages for migration into the new look through their department tools account. Administrators have to approve each page in their account in order for the entire account to migrate, explained Bryan Masters, director of interactive marketing. Administrators may contact Masters at bryan.masters@wichita.edu for further assistance or information.

About 50 of the 250 department tools accounts have been approved to transfer into the new look.

Members of the WSU public Web site review panel, which guided the project, are Deborah Kennedy, Alumni Association; Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation; Rodney Miller, College of Fine Arts; Brian Pracht, athletics; Eric Sexton, government relations; David Wright, sociology; Charlotte Howard, continuing education; Brigitte Roussel, Faculty Senate; Bobby Gandu and Gina Crabtree, undergraduate admissions; and co-chairs Ravi Pendse, chief information officer, and Hague.

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