By VALERIE LAPOINTE
In conjunction with the launch of the new University of Mary Washington brand set to be unveiled at the pep rally this Friday, the UMW website will be receiving a makeover, with the new version going online sometime Friday afternoon.
The new website will work in a WordPress format and will feature a number of upgrades from the current website, both visually and in terms of functionality. This change will allow individual departments to make changes to their own page and upload content without having to go through the webmaster, according to Director of Web Communications Cathy Derecki.
“With President Hurley and University Relations we designed the webpage we have now, a lot of gray ad a lot of blue, nothing special nothing visionary,” said Derecki. “The new page will be more graphic, have less text and offer a distinctive look and feel for Mary Washington.”
Derecki has been working closely with university Webmaster Curtiss Grymala, Instructional Technology Specialist Jim Groom, and Special Projects Coordinator Martha Burtis, to create a new website that is more user-friendly and versatile. The website has been designed in-line with the branding recommendations made by Educational Marketing Group, an outside company that the University hired to develop a new marketing strategy for the university.
The new site will have links to email, Canvas, Eaglenet and other commonly used services at the top of every page. All social, academic and athletic events on campus will be put into one central calendar, which can then be imported into individual Google calendars.
Additionally, different departments will be able to build slide shows into their pages, upload lists of faculty members and incorporate various widgets.
“The real power of this website is that its going to allow you to incorporate and use media from across the web,” said Groom. “We will be able to integrate the social web into any page, Fickr, Youtube, whatever you happen to be using on the Web can be housed here.”
Groom described the vision for the new site as creating a genuinely authentic experience and making it so faculty, students and administrators will be able to publish whatever they’re doing, and showcase what is going on at the university.
“The wonderful thing about using WordPress is that it is so flexible and accessible,” said Burtis. “People will be able to do things on their sites that they haven’t been able to do before. Everybody has been saying that they find WordPress to be very intuitive so we are really excited about it.”
By using WordPress as the platform for the new website, umw.edu will become compatible with UMW blogs, the grand idea behind the whole project.
“By having UMW blogs compatible with the university website, the academic voice of the institution will have a presence on the public website,” said Derecki. “Who knows what the response is going to be, but we’re going to take a risk, I hope the university feels energized about it.”
The new website will also allow students to customize the way they view the site by changing their background, thus introducing the notion of individual expression.
“You will be able to put your personal stamp on how you use the web,” Derecki said.
“We want the website to be more than a brochure,” Groom said. “We want it to be a reflection of what is going on at the university on an academic level, so that people can see what the student body is actually doing and experiencing.”