College updates website to be more user-friendly
Lafayette College launched a remodeled website in July, revealing new layout, design and content for users in an attempt to enhance overall usability.
As more people access the website, last updated in 2010, from phones and other portable devices, a major focus of the redesign process has been to shift the site’s display according to the device of the user.
“The old design was very much a 2010 design,” Director of Web Applications Development Ken Newquist, at Lafayette said. “It was ‘back in the day,’ even though it was only five years old. Smartphones were not as dominant [then] as they are now—mobile was just taking off [at the time].”
“The new website is responsive, so it changes its appearance based on the device that you’re using,” Newquist said. “It’s all the same content [between both formats], and it’s all following the same visual rules, it’s just reflowing itself.”
The project partnered the communications division with Information Technology Services and totaled over $200,000 in cost, including a contract with web developer FastSpot. FastSpot is an outside firm hired by ITS out of Baltimore, Maryland, which has experience working with other higher education institutions.
In addition to remodeling the design of the interface, Lafayette College’s Communications Department has also been working to create more content for the site, and to express that content in a visually pleasing way.
“We have more capabilities than ever for photo galleries and video and just a more visual and engaging display of the content to capture people’s attention,” said Associate Director of Media Relations Kathleen Parrish, who directed content strategy for the website.
“Our goal was really to make it more about storytelling,” said Parrish. “We just have so many great things going on at the college, so many great stories, and so we kind of looked at the website as a great platform to tell our stories in a very visual and engaging way.”
“We’re trying to show more and tell less,” Newquist said. “Instead of telling you it’s a beautiful campus, we’re going to have nice, big photos on the website to show you it’s a beautiful campus.”
Students were excited about the new changes. “I like the website because of the clean, modern design that relies on visual imagery rather than an overcrowded page of text,” said Natalie Sole ‘19. “It’s more aesthetically pleasing and more professional [than the old website].”
The updated website follows Lafayette’s recent launch of the “Live Connected, Lead Change” slogan.
Like the slogan, the new Lafayette website allows students to “live connected” by including links to other Lafayette social media pages, an extensively detailed alumni section and each faculty member’s contact information.
While the project is well under way, there is still work to be done before it can be said to be complete. According to Parrish, the site will take over a year to complete.
“What we launched over the summer was phase one,” Newquist said. “There are over 100 departments, offices, and programs’ websites that we have to convert over to the new theme, so over the course of the next year, the communications division will be rolling out the new look to those different departmental websites.”