As we’re nearing the end of the project, we have discovered that we need a few more weeks to finish building out the content management system and a few related technical pieces. We’re taking a little more time because we want to make sure the system is in the best possible shape for the launch. Keep an eye out for updates in the next few weeks on training and the timing of the launch.
We are in the final stages of the website redesign project, with a planned launch for mid February.
Those of you who currently have content sitting outside of Drupal and using Dreamweaver will receive training on the new system January 29-30. At that point we hope to have gotten a chunk of your content migrated for you so you can use it during training. We will finish the migration of your content over the course of the week after training.
For those of you already using Drupal, we will be migrating your content for you. At the end of the day on Friday, February 1, we will be issuing a content freeze for all current Drupal sites. What that means is that we will be using the content on those sites at that point for our final migration, so any changes made to your current sites will not automatically appear on the new site.
The week of February 4 we will be holding a number of sessions for current Drupal content managers to show them the new system, which they will find is very similar to what they have been using for a number of years now. At that point, they will be able to go into the new site and start adding new content, and cleaning up existing pieces. We hope to follow that with some open lab hours for those folks to answer any questions they might have.
I wanted to take a minute to update everyone on what has been going on with the project and what is coming up.
First of all, the most significant piece of news is that we have decided to launch the new site January 16, 2013. We had been discussing a December launch, but for a number of reasons, including timing, we have decided to launch the week prior to the new semester beginning. We feel that this makes more sense than making a dramatic change during finals.
There are two tracks to this project: Design and content management system development. The design section, being led by our partner firm IE Design and Communications, is being shepherded on campus by myself, Adam Gordon, Tom Evelyn and Jessica Rood. The CMS side is being developed by Trellon, along with the on-campus group of myself, James Mattice, Rhett Thatcher, Eric Williams-Bergen, Kyle Jicha, Lucas Wright and John LaShomb.
The IT-oriented groups have been meeting weekly since early in the summer, as well as doing weekly calls with Trellon over that period. We are closing in on the point where we will have a local version of the new site up and running, thanks largely to the efforts of our IT staff. I know I am chomping at the bit to have a site I can start playing with and getting to know so I can prepare for training.
I have been meeting with departments currently using Dreamweaver to manage their content to discuss the process of migrating their content and learning how to use the new system. Those meetings are completed and we are now working on a plan for migrating that content. Training for that group will happen over the first two weeks of November. Content that is already in Drupal will be migrated through an automated process. We will be touching base with those people in the next week to describe how the process will work for them.
On the design side, we are probably two-thirds of the way through the process. We have final designs for the homepage, news page, admissions, departmental landing/homepages, general landing pages and basic content pages. In addition, we have reviewed responsive designs for the majority of those.
We are heading into the home stretch of the project which, for me, is equal parts exciting and scary. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send them my way.
An extremely busy and productive summer has come to an end and the new semester means we are hitting the gas pedal!
We have been working with our partners at IE on a new design and structure for the site. It is coming along, as we continue to tweak, but we are very excited about where this is heading! At the same time, the combined Communications/IT/Library group that is working with Trellon on the development of our new Drupal-based content management system has been meeting as often as three times a week all summer as the new feature-rich system comes together.
We have started contacting individual departments to get started discussing their new sites, as well as a plan for migrating content. The vast majority of content already in Drupal will be migrated to the new site in automated fashion. Those of you working with Dreamweaver on static pages, we will be discussing how this process will go. In addition, we are working on a plan for training that will take place in mid October.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Over the last two weeks, IE Design and Communication have been conducting testing on what are called “wire frames”, which are undesigned web pages that show potential placement of links and features. IE set up a site to house the wire frames and worked with a group of high school students provided by St. Lawrence (it’s good to have teenage kids!) to have them perform tasks with the wire frame sites to see how the navigation works. We have received IE’s report on the testing, which will help inform decisions we make on what information appears where on our new site.
The next step is for IE to present us with a set of potential site designs, which will be happening in early July.
At the same time, the group working on our new Drupal-based content management system has been meeting twice a week to work on the project. One of those meetings is a call with our other partner, Trellon, which has started to construct our new system. Our web developers are working with Trellon on the project and Trellon will be directing a good chunk of their time starting soon.
Have a great summer!
Our partners for the website redesign, IE Design and Communications and Trellon, came to Canton April 17-19 to meet with people on campus. The four representatives from the firms conducted 25 meetings with over 100 people in two-and-a-half days. Those meetings included an open meeting for the entire campus, two meetings for faculty members that included department chairs and other program directors and a presentation/discussion at the weekly Thelmo meeting. They also had a campus tour from a student guide and a driving tour of the region.
During those meetings, the reps gathered information from a broad range of campus constituents to help them get to know the campus better, and also be prepared to work with individual departments on their sites.
IE and Trellon staff are now working on an audit of the existing website, which will lead to the creation of a site map that will be used to build out the new site. At the same time, Trellon staff, which will be working with IT and Web Services staff to develop the new content management system in Drupal, are conducting weekly phone calls with the St. Lawrence staff working on the project.
Here is the presentation IE and Trellon gave at the open campus meeting.
The University’s current website is now more than five years old and in need of a more modern look and feel, as well as a new structure and focus – in other words, a redesign. The timing is right, as we have just completed two years of research, campus conversations and communications planning that have laid the groundwork and will provide guidance for such a project.
Because of the size and comprehensiveness of this project, we have formed a campus advisory group and decided to work with outside experts in web design and content management. The Website Redesign Advisory Group, which includes representatives from across campus, has been meeting since early February and recently helped to select our partner firms: Trellon and IE Design and Communications. These firms have worked together on several, major projects in higher education and bring to this project a high level of experience and expertise in this area.
The Trellon/IE team will be on campus the week of April 16 to kick off the project and meet individually with groups of faculty, staff and students. We are scheduling those meetings now. In addition, we have scheduled an open forum for all of campus to meet Trellon/IE and learn about the project on Tuesday, April 17, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Hannon Room of the Student Center.
We have also started a redesign blog – http://blogs.stlawu.edu/redesign/ – to help keep the campus informed and provide another format for feedback. We will update the blog in the coming months as the project progresses.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to send them my way at any time. We are very excited about this project and look forward to working with all of you to produce a website that best serves the needs of the University and its various constituencies.
Welcome to the 2012 St. Lawrence University website redesign blog. Here we will be keeping the campus updated on the process of designing, implementing and launching our new website. We will also be looking for your feedback along the way as we embark on this long overdue and crucial update to the University’s web presence.