University unveils new Web site

Brian Allen

If you Google “Washburn.edu,” the listing reads “Welcome to Washburn University located in Topeka, the capital city of Kansas. Information for past, current and future students and their parents.” The description is just what the Washburn Web site team hopes the new site will be.

“It is our face to the world. It represents us,” said Dena Anson, director of university relations. “We want a visitor who has never been on campus to want to come back.”

Although the site exists for external marketing, one can look for university employment opportunities, current students can link to MyWashburn and the community can check the events page. But it is designed for student recruitment in particular.

“Ninety nine percent of people trying to decide on a school check the Web first,” said Anson.

“The old Web site was last updated in 2005, and at that time when a site was done, it was finished, like a book.” said Mike Gunter, CIO/Director ISS. Today’s high school graduate has different web expectations.

“Fresh content and live video capabilities will keep it visually entertaining and create interest,” said Anson. “We plan to add more video streaming, such as sorority members describing their Washburn experience or showing students enjoying a tail gate party.”

When students search for potential colleges, the school’s Web site is the first impression many of them get, and one of the goals is to introduce them to Washburn through a modern site that reflects well on the university. FryeAllen, a local art design PR firm on contract to Washburn, created the basic look and feel of the site. Consultants offered input to match the new design.

Washburn’s ISS then added content to the templates. Since recruitment is a core function of the site, visiting high school students as well as current students were used as focus groups for testing.

Fresh and up-to-date content is an expectation of today’s users.

“The new site is easier for content providers to update,” said Brenda White, ISS assistant director. Individual departments and offices can update their own areas.

“The system will even remind providers to update their content if nothing new has been posted for a few months.” said Gunter.

“The new site is more like a dynamic book, never finished,” said Gunter.

“What is up now is only the tip of the iceberg. There are links to some 350 pages now but if faculty pages are added it could exceed 17,000,” said Shane Bartley, ISS Webmaster. They want visitors to be able to easily access the information they want.

“The smaller the number of pages needed [to access desired information] is a good indicator of how well the site was designed,” said Gunter.

The cost of the update is still undetermined because it is new and still growing. The ISS department invites students and faculty to visit the site and make comments and suggestions to [email protected]