The address -- www.fhsu.edu -- remains the same, but Fort Hays State University went live on Wednesday, Aug. 14, with a brand new look on the World Wide Web.
From experience, from anecdotes and by testing, university officials knew that their Web site was generally considered excellent in terms of navigation and content. For example, FHSU was rated No. 137 on the Yahoo Hot 200 list of most-wired campuses in the nation. However, they also knew that some improvements were overdue:
· In spite of the generally strong content, the information in some areas of the Web site had not been kept current.
· There was a lack of continuity on some pages that left users confused about whether they were still on the FHSU site.
· The old Web site lacked a sense of excitement for future college students who wanted to learn more about FHSU.
· The old site had few photos and little video, so it failed to show off the beauty of the campus and the vitality of FHSU's students, faculty and staff.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, approved an action plan a year ago (as part of the university's strategic planning process) to hire an outside firm that could help to expedite the process of updating and enhancing the Web site.
University officials were determined to keep the strengths of the old site while addressing the weaknesses. They sought bids and hired CJ Online, an award-winning Web firm located in Topeka, to assist with the transition. Working together, CJ Online and university staff designed a new Web site that meets the needs that were identified in surveys and hands-on interviews.
New features of the revamped Web site include:
· Effective use of video;
· Lots of photography, including VRs (360-degree images);
· An interactive campus map;
· A new search engine that will make navigation even easier;
· A new home page with several feature photographs that alternate each time a user signs on;
· A new internal site dedicated exclusively to future students.
With more than 61,000 pages to move from the old Web site to the new site, university officials anticipate that there likely will be some glitches. They invite individuals who visit the site to contact the university's Web site manager, Suzanne Klaus, at firstname.lastname@example.org if they experience any problems or wish to make suggestions for improvements to the new Web site.
The transition will actually begin at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday so that the new site will be operational by 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at the latest.
When they were given a "sneak preview" of the new Web site, some students had these comments:
"I was on the Internet all the time while deciding where I wanted to go to school this year. This new Web site will make it much easier for the future students next year." -- Chris McKenna, incoming freshman.
"I think it gives you good insight into what FHSU has to offer. It looks fun and it is very personable." -- Karen Stecklein, recent FHSU graduate.
"It is so easy to move around, and it is especially easy for new and prospective students. It's much more fun and exciting!" -- Erica Crist, McPherson senior.
"I am so excited to have all the FHSU information easy to find and easy to read. This site is so user-friendly." -- Tara Towns, Stockton junior.