Fordham.edu is getting a major upgrade.
The University’s website is undergoing radical changes that will make it more attractive, easier to update, and more in tune with the needs of the University community.
The change—the largest involving the University’s website in 14 years—is being spearheaded by the Office of Marketing and Communications. In September, the office hired Donna Lehmann to take on the newly created position of director of online communications.
The new site aims to solve a problem that is apparent to anyone who has spent a good deal of time on the current site: it has grown enormously large—to at least 16,000 pages—making it difficult to navigate and in need of updating.
Lehmann has been tasked with rebuilding the website from the ground up. She will be assisted by a two-member team who will work with web editors, deans, and department heads to reorganize their sites so they are easier to navigate and to revise web content so it is written in short, scannable chunks.
“People want to find information on the web as fast as they can, and they need to be able to skim it quickly to find out if it’s relevant,” said Lehmann, who spent more than a decade doing web management at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
A newly redesigned Fordham.edu home page will both enhance the reputation of the University and aid in student recruitment, she said. “The website is our primary marketing and recruitment tool. We need it to better tell the Fordham story and capture the energy of our students and staff and their remarkable accomplishments.“
It will also be easier to view on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, because it will employ responsive design templates that will adapt to the screen resolution of each user’s device.
The ongoing challenge for the University community will be in maintaining web pages so that content is fresh, relevant, and up-to-date.
“A website is not a house; it is not something you build and move in to,” Lehmann said. “It is more like a garden that will need ongoing attention to remain attractive and useful. It grows and you care for it.”
Jim Kempster, senior director of the Office of Marketing and Communications, said an important goal of the redesign is to increase web usage and to keep users on the site.
“Visitors to Fordham’s site who are looking for more information, or to apply, or to donate, will be better served when we have a website that keeps them engaged,” he said.
Maintenance of the new site will be made easier with the adoption of a new content management system (CMS) said Charles-Henri Sanson, director of the Office of Internet Services in Fordham’s IT department. Sanson is leading the implementation of Jadu, a state-of-the-art CMS, to support the new site.
“Web editors will find making changes to their pages and adding new content in Jadu far simpler and faster than working in our current system, Waves. The technology has come a long way.”
The official site launch is scheduled for the fall of 2014, once the semester is underway. In the meantime, Lehmann is blogging about the transition at next.fordham.edu, where she’ll be sharing a project timeline, project goals, milestones, how to prepare for the new site, and best practices.