Newman University new website more interactive, dynamic

Jul 30, 2010

Newman University has launched a completely new website that is designed to be more interactive, dynamic and user-friendly. The site features a new look based on the university’s current recruitment and advertising theme, as well as a simplified approach to content designed to help visitors find the information they want quickly and efficiently.

“The site is totally redesigned to give visitors a great experience when they come to get information about the university,” said Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. “It offers a fresh look that represents what Newman is all about, and engages the viewer to want to know more about us.”

“We wanted something that had more appeal to viewers and a better organized structure and functionality,” added Newman Director of Communications Kelly Snedden. “I think we’ve achieved both with this new site.”

The new site follows the launch earlier this year of an improved news section and a campus calendar system designed to provide more robust services to visitors. The new main Newman website offers a simplified system of navigation by means of tabs near the top of each page that group sections of related information. The “Attend NU” tab, for example, includes information on applying to Newman, admissions requirements, financial aid and other related topics. A “[email protected]” tab¬†covers academic majors available to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as special programs for adult learners and services and resources available to students such as tutoring, career counseling and the library. Information related to upcoming events, exhibits at the university’s Steckline Gallery and news are grouped under “Public Square,¬†while information on residence life and student activities including clubs and service learning opportunities are under a “Campus Life” tab.

The website makeover also includes an update of Jetstream, the university’s internal data management software, by the Newman Information Technology Department. Other features include a new Giving section created by the Stelter Company, and a new Athletics website at www.newmanjets.com designed by Sidearm Sports.

“Thanks to our partnership with Sidearm Sports, one of the most popular athletic website providers in America, we have a new site that allows visitors to follow the Jets in more ways than ever before,” said Newman Sports Information Director Scott Nuss. “We now have the ability to post more complete player biographies, and will be adding those as each sport season nears. We also hope to launch social media pages and photo galleries in the near future.”

The Newman website also offers two ways for both regular users in the Newman community and visitors from outside the organization to quickly find specific information. One is the “my NU” tab, which has quick links to student and faculty e-mail, the “Blackboard” online learning tool, the library, course offerings, residence life and other topics. The second easy entry portal is “Who goes there?” on the upper right corner of each page, which allows visitors to determine how they want to enter the site (i.e., as a current student, alumnus, adult learner, transfer student, donor or other category).

“The site also features many interactive elements,” said Webmaster Charles Rasico. “Visitors can download information that wasn’t available to them before, comment on stories and blog entries, easily access Newman news, contact personnel across the university, and many other functions. The site also incorporates social media, giving visitors more options to interact with the university and the web site. For example, visitors can comment on Facebook about a news release and their comments actually appear on page with the release. We’ve also automated many processes that will make maintaining the site with correct and timely information more efficient for our department and others across the university who provide content.”

Snedden noted that other than the Athletics and Giving sections built by third-party companies, the new website was created completely by staff members with assistance of students, on a budget of less than $1,200 by leveraging the power of open source technology.

“Building a new site from the ground up is a daunting task for any organization,” she said. “Typically, companies pay independent contractors thousands and thousands of dollars – even a hundred thousand dollars and more – to create a new site. We did it with almost no budget using only employees and students. It meant a lot of work for everyone as we had to balance this project with our normal workload, but the result is worth it. This site, with its automation, appealing photos and functionality, really advances the university’s presence on the web. I’m very proud of the University Relations team for their creativity, innovation and determination to see it through, and thankful to all faculty and staff for their assistance and support.”

Snedden added that the University Relations staff will be working over the coming weeks to complete certain areas, respond to input from students, faculty and staff, and work out any “bugs.”

“We will continue to refine the site and add enhancements in the future, too,” said Web Coordinator Eric Leitzel. “This site is not meant to be stagnant. It’s a living entity that will continue to grow and create better ways to serve visitors and the Newman community.”

Visit the new site at www.newmanu.edu.

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