New WLU website to launch in Sept. 2013

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After nearly eight years, Wilfrid Laurier University is finally working towards launching a new, modern and up-to-date website. Currently the first phase of development is underway, which includes collecting feedback and suggestions from the Laurier community as to what they’d like to see on the newly improved website.

While the new website will hopefully be more functional and easily accessible for students, Laurier’s communications, public affairs and marketing (CPAM) office is also hoping that the new website will successfully incorporate the school’s new visual identity.

“We’re conducting a comprehensive review of the website’s needs, and the ultimate intent is to develop a website that [has] a great functionality,” explained Jacqui Tam, assistant vice-president of CPAM.

“So that’s sort of the global overview of the project.”

“The current first phase is really about gathering a lot of information and getting input into what the current website is lacking … and really getting a sense of what is needed,” she continued.

Next week, CPAM is inviting members of the Laurier community to join groups that will be part of the review process in order to gather essential information required for the new website’s development process.

“The input sessions that are happening next week are very much designed to get into the detail about what people are looking for [with a new website],” explained Tam.

Tom Buckley, assistant vice-president of academic services, also emphasized the importance of researching what users want in the new website, rather than just assuming what is needed.

“Asking the community what functionality they would like from the website, and ensuring we understand that inventory, and making sure that the technical solution is selected to support that [is important],” he said.

“We need to validate any assumptions we have as a steering group against what the user community is looking for, so we’re careful not to be too deliberate or move too quickly … before we fully inventory and document what people [want].”

According to both Tam and Buckley, the Laurier community has already provided CPAM with ample feedback regarding the current website, and given suggestions as to how it can be improved.

“There is a real appetite to move our website and its functionality well beyond where it is today; it’s a recognized need,” Buckley added.

Some of the most common complaints regarding the current website, according to Nela Petkovic, director of ICT renewal projects, are “that it’s visually outdated, that it’s difficult to navigate and search [and] a lack of flexibility.”

In order to ensure that the new website is an up-to-date and functional as possible, other university websites are also being consulted.

“It’s still in the initial phase, but we’re going to look at our competitors as well,” explained Petkovic.

And while a new website is needed for functionality purposes, it will also, according to both Buckley and Tam, greatly affect Laurier’s recruitment process.

“Perspective students and current students … indicate that the website is a key source of information in their decision making process,” explained Buckley.

“We need a site that [has] the ability to more quickly engage those students and present the information that’s important to them in terms that they understand.”

Tam echoed Buckley’s statement, but explaining that having a new website that positively reflects the Laurier community in ways that the current one doesn’t is greatly needed.

The new website is set to launch in Sept. 2013.


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