Redesigning A Website, 1-2-3

The word came down four months ago that it was time to redesign the MU website.
It needed to be more streamlined, dynamic and aimed at recruiting.
Most other colleges would have hired a design agency.  This would have meant  studies, focus groups, committees, meetings. . . .     It would have taken a year, a dozen approvals, and cost upwards of $100,000.
Instead, the provost asked a team on campus to take on the challenge. The group  included PR, Admissions and Campus Technology — mostly CT.
Brian Barden, executive director of Enrollment Services, laid out his vision of what students and parents need to see and how they need to be guided to make their search as easy as possible.
For PR it meant grabbing cameras and photographing students and professors in the classroom and around campus,  and a bunch of  re-writing.
The huge bulk of the responsibility fell to CT under the direction of Suzanne Murphy.
The nuts and bolts, the design, the look, the feel and the intricacies of laying down Ariadne’s thread to guide folks through the labyrinth of today’s college website lay with John Maslar and Kim Hulslander.
All this was done in addition to regular duties. Understand that CT is responsible for maintaining the Web  24 hours a day. They battle spam, viruses,  and malware. They update constantly, quietly, making it look easy.
Also understand in many colleges, the PR, Admissions and CT departments are often at odds. This is a period of huge transition in communications and the road is sometimes rocky.
Not so here. We had a shared purpose. We met regularly to discuss progress and needs. We listened to each other. We fed off each other and compromised for the common good, the vision.
We all pitched in but the Herculean process of turning talk and vision into reality, fell primarily upon John and Kim.
And they came through with flying colors.  I mean that literally. The site is  dynamic, bursting with color and lively typefaces.  It represents MU well.
Doing it in house saved the university up to $100,000.

It is, like all good projects, a work in progress. It will be tweaked and we’ll continue to add photos, rewrite descriptions and listen to suggestions.
The bottom line is that it was a team effort by professionals from different departments who care  about the university.
It was done under pressure in a short amount of time with never a cross word spoken.
This just doesn’t happen at most other universities — or most companies, for that matter.

It’s projects like these that remind me that MU is a  special place with really special people.


This, I hope, is the last snow picture of the season.

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03 2011

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