Volunteers needed to test drive website redesign
By Cyril Manning, Director of Communications
A new San Jose State website is in the works. With a design conceived of and developed by students, combined with input from a broad array of campus stakeholders, the new version of www.sjsu.edu should be ready for launch by the fall semester.
To make that goal, Public Affairs is looking for faculty and staff members, students, alumni and community members to participate in the development process by testing out an early version of the design during the month of April. Interested? Fill out the Google form or email Teresa Ruiz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overhauling a university website is no small undertaking, and web design can be costly. Instead of hiring an outside consultant, the university engaged Design Creature, an SJSU student design studio led by Associate Professor Connie Hwang. The same group has already created sites for Journalism and Mass Communications and the School of Art and Design, with impressive results.
“Working with student talent on such a huge, high-profile project has been a great experience for all of us,” said Teresa Ruiz, the university’s web communications specialist. “We saw the exceptional work this group brought to other projects, and the professionalism of their process demonstrated how talented and capable SJSU students are.”
Design Creature’s 10 student designers conducted exhaustive research on perceptions of the existing website, patterns of use, and on other universities’ sites. They presented four concepts and ultimately narrowed in on a single design direction. A smaller group of students–Kate Alcid, Nicholas Gonzalez, Marco Huerta and Sean Stanton–continued to refine the approach based on feedback from leaders of each of the university’s divisions, the Academic Senate and the president’s cabinet.
During a presentation to the president’s cabinet, Gonzales said, “The new design shows the pride we all have in SJSU; it organizes information better and it will allow different departments and divisions to have more dynamic home pages of their own.”
The project is a collaboration between Public Affairs, Web Services in Academic Technology and University Technology Services. Over the next several months, Public Affairs will continue to seek input from the campus community on the design as it is is refined for its public debut. At the same time, Web Services is working to get a new content management system (the background technology that runs the website) in place.
“When we saw the strengths of the new design, we had a choice to make,” says Web Services lead Harish Chakravarthy. “We could build out the system on 20th-century technology of our existing system, or we could build it on a new platform that takes advantage of emerging technologies. Fortunately, the president’s cabinet understood that even the best design is only as good as the technology behind it.”
With input from users across campus, the university chose to build out the site on OmniUpdate’s OU Campus. The same content management system powers the websites of three CSU campuses and many other successful universities. Although migrating to a new content management system will require some investment of time and resources for content owners, the new technology will ultimately be more flexible, powerful and simple to use. Web Services and Public Affairs are making plans to provide tools to assist departments with making the switch.