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Take a test drive of the new WWW site

February 14th, 2008 by tamuwebmaster

Let’s get this out first. Without further ado, I present: http://dmc-test.tamu.edu/. Now, let me explain a little behind this and where we are heading as a Web team with the development and management of the A&M Web presence.

This Web site to some, represents a drastic change from the previous site. And in many cases it is, aesthetically and philosophically. As you can see we have embraced the warmth of the Brand Guide and the palette of colors it offers. We have combined the big image with the Flash-based “spotlight section” and are now pulling news and events. We have gone in and really embraced the “Don’t Make Me Think” mindset and have broken up links, rearranged content and items in lists to create a stronger user experience.

However, for many, this page is not that far away from where we’ve been. And that is because, again, because of our commitment to the user experience. We still have subject and audience-based navigation, and the main sections are still there. That’s because part and parcel of the user experience is tied to us getting people through our site and to yours. We can’t do that with broken links, and since many of your pages link to our pages, we can’t have them go breaking.

You’ll also notice that we’ve added some new pieces. The Google Search Appliance now powers the search. Our new Web Communications Specialist has been working with Erick to add KeyMatches and related terms to make those searches part of the better experience. Try typing into the search engine “science” or “Murano” or “application” or even “hello” to see what we mean.

On the front page, you’ll see some features that are our way to challenge ourselves and remind of us of our commitment to the university. The “News” and “Events” are ones that help us focus on what some of our next steps are in development. A true calendar or a feed from a calendar application whether we’re getting campus iCal feeds or partnering with interested parties in developing a campus calendar resource. The other is the globe at the bottom left. While the links there do link to our branch campuses and study centers, it’s only the beginning of what we see is our goal of promoting A&M’s global presence.

When I talked to the Brand Council today, I showed them screen shots of past Web sites from 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2006 . I talked about how each of these were designed and left alone for the most part for 2-5 years. We will not be following that model. We believe in a evolutionary model for the Web and Web sites. In the same way that news and images will change daily, so will the web site. While we see it regularly for the news, events, and the Flash/spotlight, this “evolution” and newness will also be happening for the site as a whole.

As new technologies emerge, we’ll be looking at how to integrate them into our Web experience. We’re not going to collect a list of things and wait 5 years. So look for microsites, video, changes in design and layout to be happening as that’s what the future is bringing and we are very excited about it.

So where do you fit in? We need your help. We’ve done our best using our own common sense, feedback from focus groups, webmaster input, outside visitors and analytics. However, our job is provide a smooth and gratifying experience through our site to yours. So look this site over, help us tweak links, suggest areas that may need creating and start the dialogue.

This site and the way we’ve built it, is the first steps toward our implementation of the content management system. Modules you see on the site will become content types and objects. We’ll be able to repurpose content and not just link to it and we’ll be better able to enhance the user experience.

So look it over, and email us with thoughts, questions, concerns or contact information. We are planning to launch this Monday, February 18. We will be working in refinements, enhancements and the like from here on out. We appreciate your feedback.

Thursday, February 14th, 2008 Ongoing Projects, www.tamu.edu
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