PLU’s Web site will look different starting on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
The new look is part of a series of changes to the site over the next six months. Beyond improved ease-of-use, the new look will provide tools that will allow user to personalize content.
The changes begin with a new home page and newly designed and enhanced pages for current students, alumni, parents, and faculty and staff. These pages, called “doorways,” are the most visible pages on the site, and will make it easier for people to access the information they use the most by providing a tool to customize doorway pages.
The new tool, called “MyPLU,” will enable current students, faculty and staff to sign-in to a personalized section of the site. Initially this will include a bookmark tool that will allow users to save bookmarks from any Web site for easy access. Later, additional features will allow users to personalize their page even more.
“The feature allows people to identify what is most important to them and put it in one spot,” said Toby Beal, Web content manager. “It goes beyond us maintaining the information to users maintaining the information they want.”
MyPLU will be accessible anywhere you connect to the Web – allowing users to take their bookmarks and other tools with them wherever they go.
In addition to MyPLU, the Web site will include:
- Audience-specific content – New content provided by different campus groups will bring greater variety to the individual pages you can create using MyPLU. For instance, you could add the monthly University Lecture Series speakers to your page. Look for audience-specific content beginning with the Feb. 20 launch of the new site and expect additional content over the course of the spring semester.
- Google Translations – PLU Web pages will soon be translatable to a variety of languages using Google’s translation tool. The site will initially be available in seven languages: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. As Google adds more languages, the university hopes to provide Chinese and Russian, too.
- Campus Calendar – The enhanced Web pages will also incorporate detailed calendar information from the current campus events calendar. Users will be able to see all of the day’s events on one page, or search for events by category or keyword. Future improvements will allow current students, faculty and staff to tailor the calendar results to display particular items of interest.
The initial doorway changes are part of a shift towards giving more control of the Web site to users, including individual departments or organizations that manage the content of their sites. For the first time, the site’s content will be geared more towards the campus’ internal audience, not just at prospective students, Beal said.
“It shows the university is trying to cater to the interests and needs of current students, faculty and staff in order to make their Web experience more productive,” he explained.
The Web development team, a joint venture between Beal and staff in Information and Technology Services, designed and implemented the enhanced doorways. Last semester, the team met with a number of focus groups with faculty, staff and students to determine what was important to on-campus users.
The sessions gave the Web team a chance to explain the changes and discuss areas of concern. The sessions were especially helpful to the Web team because students, faculty and staff came up with good ideas and possible issues they wouldn’t have thought of, such as the bookmarks feature in MyPLU, Beal said.
“They had a real critical eye and offered really good input,” said Darren Struthers, Web designer.
Beal stressed the Web site is not changing simply for the sake of changing. “There is a method to the madness,” he said.
The Web team spent the last three years learning how students, faculty and staff use the site and identifying its weaknesses. The changes will address these issues and improve PLU’s Web presence.
“We realize we change the site a lot and we realize there are problems,” Beal said. “We’re trying to fix it.”
The final details of the enhancements are still being determined. The team is looking into purchasing a new tool that will better equip departments and organizations to build functional, attractive Web sites that are consistent with the overall PLU identity, Beal said.
The PLU Web site will continue to improve over the next six months as additional features are added. To preview the enhanced doorway pages as they are being developed, visit http://newweb.plu.edu. For more information visit http://news.plu.edu/webchanges.
To provide feedback, or for questions, contact the Web development team at firstname.lastname@example.org.