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Brandeis website redesign to go public in November

By bpaterno

Section: News

September 21, 2007

The Office of Communications, in collaboration with Web and Library Application Services (WaLAS), will be launching a redesigned Brandeis University website by the end of November this year. This will be the first layout redesign the website has undergone since its last update in December 2004.

The new layout will be more marketing focused, and we have toned down the information piece on the front page, explained Ken Gornstein, Director of Communications.

Indeed, the most visible change to the Brandeis website is the significantly decreased amount of text appearing on the homepage, replaced now by larger images. Gornstein, along with Director of Integrated Marketing Audrey Griffin, designed the layout and content of the new website, which is aimed towards [enhancing] user experience through cleaner design, better organization, and sharing of information. In order to promote the Universitys goals, the homepage provides clear links to information on Brandeis global aspects, the opportunities of Boston and Waltham, and the so-called four pillars of President Jehuda Reinhartz. Also appearing on the homepage is a Flash movie featuring images of University activities and institutions. Gornstein expressed that, we believe this reorganization will make the website more dynamic.

The initiative for revamping of the website is due in large part to the Universitys purchasing of Content Management System (CMS), a web-based system used for website design, in 2006 from Hannon Hill Corporation. The website has not been updated for three years, and there should naturally be growth every few years. Purchasing the new Content Management System, though, really gave us the opportunity to improve. The new system allows users to make edits from any location and, according to Gornstein, is no more complicated than operating Microsoft Word. Furthermore, the system is expected to make the sharing of content between and among departments and offices much easier.

The system also separates content from layout. In training different departments to navigate Content Management System, the Office of Communication will assist in the writing and editing, while WaLAS will help in maintaining the Content Management System and taking care of the technical details.

The new template system should help to promote a more unified message and visual branding standards, said Gornstein. Each department webpage will be required to choose from a number of pre-designed templates. These templates should encourage faster rollout of department and office websites. Student websites, as well, are encouraged to make use of these templates, although they will not be required to do so.

In addition to layout redesign, the website will now use an enhanced Google search engine which will hopefully make navigating the Brandeis website much easier.
The new page looks a lot cleaner and more professional, commented Laura York 11, upon viewing a template for the new website. She added that the current search engine gets really confusing, so hopefully that will change. Lisa Huberty- Rapschutz 09 said the website has been the same since I got here. I think its about time for it to change and for the look to improve.

The new design will have its soft opening at the end of September on the New Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website, followed by three or four academic departments by the end of October. By the end of November, the new homepage and related second-level pages will be revealed.

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