University launches redesigned website

The University Feb. 21 launched a redesigned home page and main website intended to be more user friendly and to feature multimedia technology showcasing the accomplishments of students, faculty and staff.

A joint effort of the Office of Communications and the Office of Information Technology, the new site was developed based on feedback since the last redesign launched in February 2005. In addition to the home page, the changes affect the main site -- the top 200 pages of Princeton's online presence that serve as a springboard into the millions of web pages at the University.

During the first few days, users may experience delays in viewing pages due to heavy traffic.

The home page, with its signature emphasis on frequently refreshed news content, now prominently features video and other multimedia tools to visually demonstrate the creative and intellectually stimulating nature of life on campus. The Office of Communications will be posting more multimedia, produced by staff members and provided by other offices at the University.

In addition, a new "student work" feature gives students opportunities to submit their own materials to be posted on the home page and puts Princeton in a relatively unique place among its peers in terms of prominently showcasing student talent. The feature already has been met with excitement by some graduate and undergraduate students, who were among those invited to preview the new site.

"I think the addition of student media to the University website is a positive step toward realizing President [Shirley M.] Tilghman's vision for the arts at Princeton," said freshman Isaiah Miller, who produced a public service announcement that is posted on the new home page.

"While the Lewis Center for the Arts fosters and showcases media from arts-oriented students, a media display on the main website will open up a lot of opportunity for creative individuals on campus with a wide variety of interests and academic callings to express themselves through film," he said. "I believe it is both a tribute to their work and an asset to the University to have such creations available for public consumption."

Each video posted will include closed captioning or a transcript for the hearing impaired. Other new technologies accessed through links on the main site include blogs, podcasts and vodcasts.

User feedback was incorporated to create several enhancements on the home page, such as moving up the Shortcuts (formerly called Quick Links) box on the right side to increase visibility, adding a Community Resources section and replacing the two news categories, "Top Stories" and "Announcements" with "News at Princeton" and "Featured Events." To highlight the University's increased emphasis on the arts, a link to an arts overview page has been added to the primary navigation on the left. The search tool, which also has moved to the upper right, has been enhanced, combining the People Search function and the Search Princeton function into one step.

This is the third redesign since Princeton launched an official Web presence in 1993; the first was in 1998.

"Relaunching a site of this size is a massive undertaking that usually takes years of planning and collaboration," said Thomas Bartus, Princeton's Web manager. "We've worked on this project at breakneck pace for the past six months, and we believe that campus and other visitors to the University's main site will have extremely satisfying experiences. As we'll continue to update the site during the next six months, we encourage user feedback."