Regents get first look at new website; launches to public 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

UPDATE: The Board of Regents was the first group to view the website in public on Friday. The site will be launched in three phases, with the final phase going live by September.

“The last thing I want to happen is for this to get stale again,” said Stacey Biggs, chief marketing officer for Public Affairs. “I’m not going to let that happen. We’ll continue to update this.”

ORIGINAL: WKU’s “window to the world” will look cleaner than ever in less than two weeks.

The university’s website is set to launch with a new design in a series of phases, beginning Feb. 1 with the home page and several landing pages. Remaining pages will be redesigned through August in a series of phases.

“I think what you’ll see is certainly a fresher design,” said Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs.

The Board of Regents will be the first to get a first look at the website this Friday in a presentation by Taylor, according to the meeting agenda.

Taylor said the new website, which is made up of about 30,000 pages, is one of the biggest projects WKU has ever undertaken from a communications standpoint.

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

“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.”

One major advantage to the redesign is that departmental websites will also match the new template rather than hire contractors to design and pay extra, Taylor said.

Owen said the cost to redesign WKU’s main site was between $40,000 and $50,000 for content management software.

Instead of hiring an external group to head up the redesign, the university saved money by creating it with WKU’s IT department, Taylor said.

“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 he and WKU’s IT staff focused on the architecture of the site, while Taylor and WKU’s communcations department concentrated on the aesthetics.

Part of the redesign was finding Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) software package, which Owen said WKU accomplished with OmniUpdate. Training sessions for updating the new site will be Feb. 16-17, Taylor said.

Owen stressed that the new website design is “really fresh.”

“It’s really neat,” he said. “Much more engaging and alive.”