Coming Soon: A Redesigned
In the coming weeks, you’ll see a change to smith.edu:
a redesigned home page, developed in response to the findings of a market research
study completed last semester.
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
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
- 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
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.