New WKU website to launch Feb. 1

WKU’s new website design launched on Tuesday. The site, which will be unveiled in three phases, will launch phase two on Jul 1 and phase three on Sept. 1.

Katherine Wade

WKU’s newly-designed website made its public debut at last week’s Board of Regents meeting.

The website is set to launch in a series of three phases, beginning Feb. 1. The home page, public affairs page, Board of Regents page and a few others will be updated in the first phase. The remaining pages will be up by Sept. 1.

Bob Owen, vice president for Information Technology, said visitors should not be disappointed if they come across old pages during the early phases.

“We can only do so much at one time, and we wanted to get the new product out there,” he said. “That’s the reason that it isn’t all turned up at once.”

Stacey Biggs, chief marketing officer for Public Affairs, said WKU will continue to update the website after its launch.

“The last thing I want to have happen is for this to get stale again,” she said. “I’m not going to let that happen.”

Owen said the website should be an invitation for prospective students to find out more about WKU. When prospective students begin looking at colleges, one of the first places they go is online, Owen said. The website gets one chance to make a good first impression, and they want to communicate that it’s authentic, relevant and current in that initial impression.

President Gary Ransdell said there are thousands of reasons why people access a university, and the website is a point of entry for many of those people.

“A lot of decisions are made in an instant by going to a webpage, and if you’re not selling, you’re not going to make the sale,” he said.

Ransdell said he didn’t want anyone to access WKU through its website and not be informed, pleased and inspired by what they find. He said the new design is current, fresh, timely and inviting.

Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs, said the new website, which is made up of about 30,000 pages, is one of the biggest projects WKU has undertaken from a communications standpoint.

Owen said the cost to redesign has been between $40,000 and $50,000 for content management software.

Instead of hiring an external group to build the new pages, Taylor said the university saved money by creating it internally with WKU’s IT department.

“We probably went the most cost-effective route,” she said. “The amount of staff hours are enormous, but we could have spent lots and lots of money paying an external group to come in and do it. We think this will be a smoother transition for the campus as well.”

Owen said that having his staff, many of whom are WKU graduates, create the website is the best way to communicate their mindset to the world.

“We know the culture of our institution,” he said. “Good websites can capture that and give you a sense of the feel of the place.”