Grace Amsden, Senior Reporter
This fall, it’s expected that the beta version for the redesigned Pierce College website will launch, allowing users to explore the site and provide feedback.
The new platform will be through Drupal, a software for content management. The project is a work in progress, so there’s a launch date rather than completion date.
“It’s getting there,” Brian Benedetti, director of marketing and communication, said. “We have the entire existing site moved over onto the Drupal site. And now we’re just rearranging and doing some editing.”
The goal for the website launch was this past spring, but due to unforeseen circumstances in the contracted company Topia Technology – health problems from a company employee – the contract was ended, Benedetti said.
“We just had to get somebody to jump in and replace that, so we just had to end that contact, start up with a different independent guy, which is great – the guy that we have is fantastic,” Benedetti said. “He’s a total Drupal guy.”
This individual is Rory Douglas, web developer for MARCOM. In May, MARCOM hired Wendy Secrist as web content manager after Angela Carson, previously online communications manager, left the position.
The goal of the new website platform is to be simple, understandable and quick. For prospective students, they should be able to utilize the website and understand it simply, Benedetti said.
According to student feedback from a survey and focus groups, there’s an addressed desire to accomplish everything through the website in three clicks, Benedetti said.
“At a community college, we have a lot of people that
are first-time students, first-generation students, and it’s intimidating,” Benedetti said. “You come over, you don’t have a family member that has had the experience going to college and now you’re going to college and you’re trying
to navigate and figure this out.”
For those who utilize the website through a mobile device, the new website will allow users to scroll through the website on their device. It will be a responsive site, which means it will convert to this format. The current Pierce mobile site isn’t set up for a phone, Benedetti said.
“We make one change here (and) it changes everything, so you don’t have to go back in
and put it into the mobile site, too,” Benedetti said. “We don’t have two sites – we just have one site that works and responds to whatever tool you’re using.”
Another feature for the new website is a top 10 list of frequently visited pages, which coordinates with user searches.
“If that starts changing with our users, then it changes there, as well,” Benedetti said.
The current website has more than 3,000 pages, some of which need updating, Benedetti said. The new website will operate through the content management system. This gives various Pierce employees the opportunity to update certain pages.
Once updates are made, it will be taken into an approval process, MARCOM being the last to look at it before it’s published to identify if anything needs to be changed. Also, MARCOM has a stylebook to follow to make sure the language presented is concise.
If an update hasn’t been made in a certain amount of time, emails will be sent to the individuals who can update the pages, informing them that an update is needed. Once an update is made, it will be added to a timeline which will keep track of the time element of the website.
“If you’re going to have a site, its got to be fresh,” Benedetti said. “It’ll help us help the students have a fresh site with relevant, current information.”
Because Drupal is free, it was selected and thorough research was involved to make sure it was the best option for students.
“We did have some other really expensive programs that we were looking at, and almost ready to make a case to go that route, and then we’re finding that Drupal was really getting popular because it was free,” Benedetti said.
The website will look similar when it comes to the college’s colors for its branding. A carousel gallery is an idea, perhaps with campus photos or a continuation of featuring students.
“This is for everybody, and primarily for our students,” Benedetti said. “We want it to be representing the college as a whole and then the needs of our students.”
The plan is for a link to the beta to be put on the current Pierce website. Once users enter, they can view it and comment with their feedback. This will be important, as website changes will be applied based on it, Benedetti said.
“We have been implementing some student ideas, and we really look forward to sharing it with you when we have the beta version finished,” Secrist said.
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