The University of Mississippi is undertaking a complete redesign of its website in an effort to make the university’s virtual front door better reflect the reputation of its physical campus and to provide a more seamless digital experience for all users.
The redesign project, which will completely transform the olemiss.edu website, is being managed jointly by the university’s offices of Information Technology and Marketing and Communications with assistance from digital agency OHO Interactive.
A New Public Face
“Our campus is touted for being one of the most beautiful in the country,” said Nishanth Rodrigues, chief information and information security officer. “In this remote working setting and virtual connection state, our website has been our digital campus. As such, we’re looking to match our digital presence to our physical campus.”
Besides the redesign, the university will establish a new web governance model that will enable university staff to create content and manage data and insights more sustainably.
“We want a seamless experience for users when they navigate from one portion of the site to others,” said Jim Zook, chief marketing and communications officer. “We want to have a cohesiveness to our sites.
“Over a period of time, there has been fragmentation as to how information is managed and governed on the current site. We’re creating a more mindful digital presence designed for the user.”
Considering All Audiences
The UM website serves as an essential tool for recruiting students, faculty, staff and funding and for promoting the university’s research, teaching and service mission. It also serves as an essential tool for those who are already members of the campus community.
The new olemiss.edu is also intended to be a benefit to those tasked with updating and maintaining portions of the website.
“It’s important that the new site be intuitive and easy to search for those who aren’t part of our community like prospective students and research funding agencies,” Zook said. “But we are also going from an open system to a proprietary system that will provide a more stable site and give added functionality to help managers keep their site current over time.”
As more and more information has been added to the website over the last eight years, important information has become harder to find and subdomains have grown further and further apart in terms of design and content.
“One of the key things this project will help with is access to information,” Rodrigues said. “Information exists on our site. It just doesn’t always show up in a method to best assist our constituents.”
The new content management system will give site managers and content editors more tools to keep their pages up-to-date while also providing tools to better connect with the users looking for their particular information.
A Way to Stay Informed
Alongside the construction of the new website, the Web Advisory Committee launched https://webredesign.olemiss.edu/ to build transparency into the project and give community members a way to provide feedback.
The Web Advisory Committee, which was formed in August 2020, includes faculty, staff and students and is tasked with making recommendations to inform the university’s ongoing online presence.
“We’ll show the project timeline as it is solidified and list the project team and advisory committee who are weighing in from across campus to make sure it reflects the needs of different campus constituents,” Zook said. “We are soliciting input from the community as well because it’s important to bring the community along as we work through this.
“We need to build something that tells the university’s story, but also meet needs like managing classes, studies and work.”
Phase 1 of the redesign began this month. The current site, which was last redesigned in 2013, will remain operational until the new site launches sometime in 2022.
By JB Clark