Northwest created a new website for the University, aiming to make it more user-friendly and visually appealing.
The University Department of Marketing and Communication updated its five-year-old website to a new template, including a homepage geared toward student recruitment and retention.
A team of 12 full-time staff members developed the design and layout of the site, in what has been a two-year process of perfecting its details.
Manager of Web Services Crystal Ward said they plan to strip down the entire site to fit its new template.
“We’ve really been in a lot of planning leading up to its release this week,” Ward said. “And what we had mocked up last summer is completely different than what we launched with.”
The website developers noticed their original plans did not fit today’s web trends and decided to match their template to fit the criteria.
In keeping the site up to date on visual and accessibility trends of today, University web developers hope to provide a site students enjoy using.
The website development staff decided to release the new website in the spring 2019 semester to get feedback from Northwest students and use as a recruitment tool for potential students.
Northwest Senior Jasper Logan said the website is an improvement.
“It looks really nice,” Logan said. “I love the homepage video.”
Ward said Northwest’s website serves as the University’s No. 1 recruiting tool, with more than 10 million overall views in a given year and the homepage alone recording 2.6 million.
“People don’t realize how essential a good homepage is to the whole site,” Ward said. “The outreach of a good website is worldwide.”
Another motivation for an update came with the push for Northwest to have a more mobile-friendly site allowing students quicker access to links and information. The Office of University Marketing and Communication wanted to provide students with that option and made their new template more responsive to mobile platforms.
Northwest Freshmen Will Anderson said the website was a sudden change.
“It freaked me out at first because I didn’t know where anything was,” Anderson said. “But now I think I like it.”
Creative Services Manager Kim Ziegler said the process moving forward is making the whole site responsive with updated content in the new template.
“We will meet with each department on campus about information on the website to make sure everything is correct and current,” Ziegler said. “We want to find out from them what content they want on their pages for students to know.”
A rough outline of the development process places the entire site to be updated by 2021, but the staff is hopeful for its responsiveness in the new template to be completed within 6-12 months.
Ziegler said the staff is hopeful to have the site completed within a year from its April 15 release.
“There is an expected 6-36 month period of transferring all content to the new template, but the bulk of it all, what matters most, should be done in a year,” Ziegler said. “We hoped students wouldn’t panic over the changes. So far, we’ve received some great feedback.”