Samford University has launched the first major redesign of its website in three years. The site was unveiled Sept. 11. Coordinated by Samford's office of marketing and communication, the site was produced in collaboration with the university's offices of technology services and admission.
For about 18 months, team members have been studying higher education best practices, reviewing websites of Samford's competitors, analyzing data from the university's website and testing options with representatives of key constituency groups. Using that extensive research, the team developed a site that is easier to navigate than the previous site, according to Joshua P. Thomas, Samford's director of web services.
The site is the university's largest and primary information source, Thomas said, making it an important communication tool.
Users will be able to personalize the Samford website, making is easy for them to find and use the site's information that is most important for their individual needs. And, the personalization allows the university to target specific information for the individual user.
The site also makes more extensive use of social media than previous efforts, Thomas added, and includes a feature called SamfordYOU that encourages students, employees, alumni, parents and others to submit photos and videos and to follow Samford on Facebook and Twitter.
"Our goal was to engage the entire Samford community in telling the Samford story by sharing their experiences," said Philip Poole, executive director of the office of marketing and communication. "We cannot send photographers, videographers or news reporters to every Samford event in every city or country. This way, our students, staff and alumni become our on-site 'reporters' for those experiences."
Additional changes will be made to the site in the coming months, Poole said, as the team adds new features and makes adjustments based on usage.
"One of the challenges with a university website is that the constituency use is so broad," Poole said, ranging from prospective students to people registering for events on campus. "Our goal is to make the site appealing to all visitors, and we will be analyzing its use to try to meet as many needs as possible."
Poole said the latest redesign is the most comprehensive in recent history. He noted that about 20 people were directly involved in the redesign and particularly commended the university's web team - Thomas and web specialists Donna K. Fitch and Carissa Bradley - for leading the project.