Oswego’s New Web Home a Site to See

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Recent visitors to oswego.edu are finding a streamlined site months in the making.

The new simplified look aims to help thousands of daily visitors to better do what they want, said Tim Nekritz M '05, the college's director of Web communication. He is part of a team from Public Affairs/Web Communication and Campus Technology Services that worked on this massive project.

"It's been six or seven years since our last redesign," Nekritz said. "What was current and new then has become outdated now. You'll see a cleaner, brighter, better look to the website." The addition of dropdown menus on the home page, for example, will help many Web visitors to find things faster.

The college hired freelance designer Colleen Kiefer of Liverpool's Kiefer Creative, who also designs Oswego alumni magazine, to develop the "skin," or look, of the system.

Working with specifications and suggestions from campus leaders, she researched many college websites, as well as those outside of higher education, and produced three prototype designs this summer.

College leaders, stakeholders and others familiar with Web design and usability provided feedback on prototype designs. During Orientation, incoming freshmen participated in an informal survey of the leading designs.

More than 62 percent preferred the one that ultimately was selected — valuable input with the Web driving recruitment of top-flight students in a competitive time, Nekritz said.

"Simplicity is important," Nekritz said. "Users want to find what they want to find, and they want to find it quickly." With 23 percent of college seekers last year reporting they used a mobile device in the process, setting up a system that will work better on portable devices was another important facet.

The team has leaned on studies, education research, best practices and many other resources for guidance. Social networking, video, mobile — the demands on Web professionals come fast and furious.

"Web trends evolve so quickly," Nekritz said. "We want to make sure we're current and even thinking ahead."

The Oswego Alumni Association is embracing many social media as well, with Facebook pages for both alumni and the upcoming Sesquicentennial Reunion Celebration; a regularly updated Twitter feed and vibrant LinkedIn community. Look for exciting changes to the alumni section of oswego.edu, including a redesign for the online edition of Oswego magazine in the coming months.

Jeff Rea '71

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