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Date: 3/10/10 Bookmark and Share

Coming Soon: A Redesigned

In the coming weeks, you’ll see a change to a redesigned home page, developed in response to the findings of a market research study completed last semester.

What's new about Large photos call attention to Smith's unique strengths.

Front-page news items feature photos.

Video features are available right on the home page.

Staff members in the offices of college relations, admission, student affairs, development and the Alumnae Association, among others, worked with the communications firm Ogilvy & Mather to articulate for prospective students and other external audiences the initiatives brought forth in The Smith Design for Learning. In close consultation with the on-campus committee, they developed a strategic positioning and messaging platform to attract the best students to Smith, connect alumnae to the college, and inspire alumnae and friends to invest in Smith’s future.
The first visible result of this work is a re-energizing of the Smith Web site that brings video, social media and frequently changing content to the top levels of the site. While serving the needs of the whole campus, the new home page continues to focus particularly on welcoming prospective students, for whom college Web sites are a critical piece of the college search.

In addition to carrying forward the messages that express the college’s values and personality, the primary aim of the new home page is to present a Web site as dynamic as Smith itself. New features include:

  • A changing series of large images that reinforce the strengths of Smith identified in the Smith Design and invite the visitor to learn more.
  • A live Twitter feed and prominent links to social-networking tools let visitors join the conversation about Smith -- a critical component for today’s “always-connected” prospective students.
  • A video feature and frequently updated news items and photos that demonstrate the breadth of activities at Smith and the intellectual life of the college.

What’s new for you? While the basic architecture and navigation have not changed, and the links you’re used to are still there, a number of new features have been added.

  • A new link in the top navigation takes you to the Grécourt Gate news page from anywhere in the site.
  • A direct input box in the bottom navigation bar lets you search the entire site directly from any page.
  • eDigest news items appear on the most-visited landing pages for faculty, staff and students.

Pages from the current site will continue to be transformed into the new format over the next few months. And bigger changes are coming: College Relations, in concert with ITS, has begun the process of transitioning the Web site to a database-driven content management system or CMS. This new system, based on the open-source Drupal platform, is an essential step in enacting a robust digital strategy. Features built into the CMS will facilitate visitor interactivity, the ability to share content, integration with social media, search engine optimization and more. But it will also make it easier for those who update or administer sites to manage content, allowing them to make changes, add or remove images, create sophisticated Web forms, and develop new pages with little or no Web programming skills. ITS is beginning to develop training opportunities for staff with Web responsibilities.

The top tier of the site is expected to be migrated into the CMS by this fall; migration of other areas of the site, including office and academic department sites, will follow. More information about that project, the timeline, and training opportunities will be announced soon.

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