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What you need to know about the new Western home page

This is the text of an email that went out to Campus at the beginning of Fall Term 2011.


Dear Colleagues,

The excitement of another new academic year is evident everywhere.  We hope you felt some of that excitement when you opened your Internet browser for the first time this month.  You no doubt noticed that Western has developed a new outward-facing home page that captures the distinctiveness that is truly Western. 

This new home page replaces a site which was more than 10 years old – an epoch in terms of web design.  The new home page is the result of the dedicated efforts and expertise of a work group that since last fall engaged in research, surveying, focus groups, infrastructure development, design, presentations and testing.

The website redesign is a two-phase project – Phase I being the construction of the new outward-facing internet you now see and Phase II will be the expansion of the new design into department pages and the development of a revised internal intranet which will take place in coming months.  While the revised internal intranet is constructed, modifications have been made in myWestern; learn more about that in the Links section, below.

It is important for you to know what the new Western homepage is designed to do, and then we’ll talk about what these changes mean for you, Western’s internal audience.
First and foremost, the new site is designed to interest, inform and attract prospective students to Western. That is its top priority. It has been built with that in mind since Day 1, and all the research and testing that went into infrastructure development, layout ideas and features and content is focused around the concept of the site being a place that will interest a future student and entice them to apply to Western.  You will note that the new site has links to new information about majors, programs, our faculty and much more.

What the new design premise means for you, the internal user, is that links and buttons that used to appear on Western’s old site – which had to double as both Western’s external face as well as an intranet for use by employees ­– may now have been moved.

Links

The vast majority of links and items that once appeared on Western’s former home page have now been moved to myWestern, at http://my.wwu.edu or by clicking on myWestern,  in the upper-right corner of the new Western home page. It might be wise to bookmark this location now if you haven’t already done so.

All of the links that appeared on the leftmost column on the former Western home page, such as About Western, Academics, Administration, Admissions, Libraries & Archives, Registration, Student Life, Teaching & Learning, Technology, and Working at Western, now appear in a similar location and format on myWestern.

Searching, indexes, and directories

Some of the most common uses of the former Western site by internal users were its search, index and directory functions. All of those functions are now available in the upper-right-hand corner of myWestern, or in a similar location on the new Western home page. Both the search function and the index have been improved to assist you in finding the pages you need.

Western’s new home page and related pages are not, or ever will be, “finished.” We will continue to polish it and improve it and add features and adjust how it is used, based on user data. As you can imagine with a project of this magnitude, there are infrastructure issues we will continue to address.  They include browser compatibility, mobile device applications and ongoing template development for colleges, departments and programs.  The site will continue to evolve, but if you find a bug or a glitch in a page, please let us know.

We encourage you to visit the ATUS Website Homepage Design site to find more about the creation and development of the project and to learn more about the intranet site that will be developed in upcoming months.  The site includes an FAQ that may answer questions you have about the new homepage.  If you have other questions regarding content or infrastructure, please direct them to the project e-mail box which is webhelp@wwu.edu.

Thank you and best wishes for a most successful 2011-12 academic year!

Respectfully,

Steve Swan
Vice President of University Relations

John Lawson
Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for Information Technology