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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
November 3, that connection gets better.
New Tricks of the Trade:
Web Training Opportunities
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
* Prerequisite: "Introduction to Dreamweaver"
For training dates, times, and locations visit www.mtholyoke.edu/go/workshops.
Customized consultations on Web site architecture and page
layout are also available. More information will be provided
at the workshops.