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TAMU Webmaster's Blog


Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Thoughts about the university website

December 16th, 2009 by Erick Beck

It has just past the 2-1/2 year mark since John and I came over to the web office. Looking back, the amount of turn-around we have been able to make and the amount of projects we have been able to push it is amazing.  While we still have projects on the to-do list that were there on day 1, we are actually to the point that we can look forward and strategically think about the university web presence rather than reacting to immediate problems and mandates.

Our publication of the mobile site is one example of that.  But before long we have to address the bigger question of the university web presence as a whole, and the part played by www.tamu.edu.   Right now we have what I consider a legacy site – it tries to be all things to all people and doesn’t really focus on any one audience or category.  Five years ago that was fine, but today’s web user is more sophisticated and more finicky.

Despite being an IT guy myself, I recognize that www.tamu.edu is the centerpiece poster for the university.  Its real value, and purpose, should be in showcasing the university… i.e. marketing; particularly with respect to prospective students and their parents, but not excluding outside faculty and university administrators whose opinions shape a schools national reputation.

This means, then, that our website needs to reshape itself to focus on an external audience.  Change is not going to be easy, though.  Analytics show that the bulk of traffic comes from on campus.  In many cases the site, which should be focusing on the outside world, is being used as a local intranet.  So do we throw caution into the wind, redesign the site the way we know it “should” be done, and alienate everyone on campus?  Obviously not, but we do need (and plan!) to start making gradual changes to the site to start pushing us in that direction.  It might be painful for some, so if you see your links disappearing or being moved to another section of the site, please keep in mind why we are making those changes.

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Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 www.tamu.edu
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