University launches new Web site
The University officially launched its new online presence on Feb. 17, when a redesigned home page and core Web site went live.
The new site represents the culmination of efforts started in 2001 by a Web Strategy Task Force that involved broad consultation with the University community.
"We've been deliberate about taking the time to get feedback from the entire campus community, and have modified the site to meet the needs of our diverse users," said Lauren Robinson-Brown, director of communications. "That dialogue will continue after we launch the site."
The core Web site -- the top 200 pages -- is intended to convey a better sense of Princeton through new and updated content and more pictures, while retaining an emphasis on frequently refreshed news content. The new design and navigational structure make it easier for users -- internal and external -- to find Web content.
An explanation of how to navigate the new site, some quick visual guides and answers to frequently asked questions about the project are available in the About This Site pages, featured under "Web Site Highlights" in the lower right portion of the home page. This section also includes Web Site Tips, which offer quick instructions on topics such as how to return to the home page and how to locate the Webmail link on the home page.
The project was guided by input from the campus community through the work of the Web Strategy Task Force, co-chaired by Robert Durkee, vice president and secretary, and Betty Leydon, vice president for information technology and chief information officer. Information also was gathered through an online survey, focus groups, individual discussions, vendor briefings and site testing. The joint effort of the Office of Communications and the Office of Information Technology incorporated contributions from many other University departments and external consultants as well.
The new home page replaces a design the University has had since 1998; the University has had an official Web presence since 1993.
One feature of the new home page is a "Quick Links" section, which provides a drop-down menu of immediate links to popular Web pages, such as athletics, job openings, the OIT Help Desk and weather.
Each main section of the new site -- "About," "Academics," "Library," "Research," "Admission & Aid," "Administration & Services," "Campus Life" and "Visiting Campus" -- now has a sub-navigation menu that provides direct access to each of the pages within that section. Each "Overview" page and many other pages include additional information about the University through text and pictures. For example, the "Overview" page in the research section describes the kind of research taking place at the University and currently shows a photograph of Princeton students conducting anthropological fieldwork in France.
The content of the site is meant to meet the needs of both external and internal audiences. Much of the new content (such as the text on the "Overview" pages) has been written to tell a compelling story about the University to external visitors. At the same time, many new features and sections are intended to improve access to information for internal audiences. For example, a new section under "Administration & Services" lists resources available to help faculty and staff plan events on campus. Three new pages in the "About" and "Academics" sections should be of interest to both types of visitors: University Governance, Departments & Programs and View of Campus.
In addition to the main topic sections, the site incorporates new audience-specific sections -- aimed at current students, prospective students, parents, alumni and faculty and staff -- which act as springboards into the site's main content as well as to other University sites.
The navigational structure and various tools have been built to better serve users. Visual elements clearly situate each page within the overall navigation scheme, making it easy to find the page again. A "Search" box now appears directly on the home page, as well as in some audience sections and the "News" pages. The search page and several other tools -- including redesigned A to Z lists and a Site map -- also are available on the top right portion of every core site page.
In addition, the site embraces the most current Web technologies, including advanced cascading style sheets and XML and XSLT programming languages. It is built on a powerful content management system, Roxen CMS, which improves the ease of keeping Web content up-to-date.
A preview of the new site for the University community began on Jan. 14. Since then, many viewers have responded with reactions and suggestions. External users have been able to preview the new site from a link on the old home page since Feb. 10.
To provide reactions to the new site or to request assistance, users can fill out the Web page feedback form highlighted in the footer at the bottom of every page. While the Web team cannot provide individual responses to every item, it will review and consider all feedback.
"We look forward to hearing from people about ways to further improve the site," said project coordinator Reed Meister, director of Web communications and strategic projects in the Office of Communications.
The old University Web site will remain online at a new address (www-old.princeton.edu) for a few weeks until it is permanently retired.