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Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

Suzan-Lori Parks '85 Receives MacArthur "Genius Grant"

MHC's Own Lost in Attack on World Trade Center

College to Roll Out Redesigned Website November 3

Karen Remmler: Exploring Ways to Memorialize Tragedy

Dwelling on Emily Dickinson's Possibilities at MHC This Fall

Keeping the Faith: Katz and MHC Community Create Art

One With Tagore: Sarah Cutler '03 Performs November 3

Latina Alumnae Conference November 2-4

Ignatieff Speaks to Packed House

MHC Art in New Calendar

High School Juniors Come to Mount Holyoke for Inspirational Weekend

A Lot About Parking

Front-Page News


Nota Bene

October 26, 2001

College to Roll Out Redesigned Web Site November 3

This is more than just another pretty Web site. Thatís not to say that the new Mount Holyoke site that will greet visitors beginning November 3 will not be pleasant to look at. But underlying that clean, new look are sophisticated new features and new systems of organization that make the site easier to use. "What people are really interested in is getting information quickly," says Patricia VandenBerg, the Collegeís executive director of communications and strategic initiatives. "They value speed and simplicity over bells and whistles."

No single event, but a convergence of factors led College officials to begin the redesign of the Web site eighteen months ago, VandenBerg says. The site had been unchanged since 1998, a long period in a medium noted for change. It was also time to take advantage of new technologies that make Web navigation easier and show the way in the good use of those technologies.

The task was challenging: how best to create a portal to the nearly 24,000 Web pages in the MHC site without leaving visitors confused or frustrated. More than 1,000 members of the College community provided guidance through user surveys. Those who had a hand in the design were also guided by a number of working groups within the College administration, the best practices of other Web sites (both educational and commercial), and the Collegeís articulation of its strengths and assets.

"It reveals more of the College, so that the richness and opportunities are evident and not buried," says Sujeong Shin, creative director in the Collegeís Office of Communications. "It looks spare, but itís packed with information."

New approaches are reflected in the new home page. Gone is the bar across the top of the page that contained eighteen links, and in its place are six links, atop the Collegeís new logo superimposed on a photo of the campus. Tucked under the photo is a box where users can search the site for keywords with a single click. In place of the links to news and events, running down the left side of the page are links to nine general areas of interest, such as academics, athletics, and the library. In the center of the page is a black-and-white photo illustrating an aspect of College life; that photo will be rotated. To the right of the photo are several links to specific subjects, such as campus improvements and The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2003, while below the photo, news and upcoming events will be listed. To give the entire site a more cohesive feeling, Web pages through the first three levels, at least, will bear a strong resemblance to the home page.

Of course, not everyone who visits the Web site will be looking for the same thing. Alumnae, for example, might be more interested in information about the next reunion or access to the Alumnae Association, while prospective students might be seeking admission information or a virtual tour of the campus. Recognizing this fact, designers created MyMHC, a new tool that lets users create Web pages tailored to their own needs and interests.

MyMHC provides templates, or "views," for seven groups of users: alumnae, current students, faculty, parents, prospective students, staff, and visitors. Each of those views can be fine-tuned by the user. Crazy about crew? Want to know whatís for lunch today? Donít care about the weather forecast? MyMHC allows users to see just what they want to see. "When it came to a decision to do MyMHC," says Dan Wilga, a Web technology specialist with the College, "we looked at a number of portal systems, but didnít find anything solid enough to do what we wanted." So Wilga wrote the code himself.

How important is the Web site? Consider that the College logs 1.5 million "hits" of Web pages each month, and that, for most prospective students, online information has replaced printed materials as the primary source of information about a college.

"Electronic media are a part of young peoplesí psyches," says VandenBerg. "The Web is a companion, a friend, a way to connect with the world, and certainly a primary way to get information."

Beginning November 3, that connection gets better.

Learn New Tricks of the Trade:
Web Training Opportunities

As part of its ongoing service to the community, in November LITS will begin offering new workshops and consultations to help departments and programs make their Web sites more user-friendly. Departments and individuals are not required to use the new College design, but are welcome to do so. The goal is to better serve our on- and off-campus users by ensuring easy navigation, quick download, a consistent look within each department, and content and images that are effective in the Web medium.

The College has spent considerable time assessing user needs and has developed and acquired new tools for departments to use to make sites as effective as possible. To assist the campus community in using these new Web development tools, LITS will offer new two-part training sessions. LITS highly recommends that the person who oversees the Web site for each department attend the first workshop.

Revitalizing Your Web Site is a two-hour information session, which looks at the big picture of Web development, i.e., establishing timelines, considering the flow of information, reviewing design options, organizing Web space, and maximizing the effectiveness of Web pages through content and images.

Those who complete the workshop above may take one or both of the following:

Using Templates to Achieve the New MHC Design* is a two-hour hands-on workshop on how to save time and improve Web sites by using templates. This workshop is for those who wish to use the look and feel of the new College site.

Using Templates For Your Own Design* is a two-hour hands-on workshop on how to save time and improve Web sites by using templates. This workshop is for those who do not wish to use the College design and wish, instead, to use their own.

* Prerequisite: "Introduction to Dreamweaver"

For training dates, times, and locations visit

Customized consultations on Web site architecture and page layout are also available. More information will be provided at the workshops.

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Copyright © 2001 Mount Holyoke College. This page created by Don St. John and maintained by Jennifer Adams. Last modified on November 14, 2001.

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