Amherst Website Redesign to Launch This Summer
Issue   |   Wed, 04/22/2015 - 01:15

Chief Communications Officer Pete Mackey announced recently that the college will launch a new website this summer with an updated layout and an increased focus on academics.

The goal of the website redesign team was to make the site useful both to off-campus users looking for general information about the college and to students looking to access specific information. For the off-campus audience, the team’s focus was to showcase the college’s merits. For students on campus, the design team sought to create a simpler and less cluttered format.

“We have set out to create a site that uses modern features to bring attention to Amherst’s strong intellectual life, close student-faculty working relationships, compelling curriculum and vibrant cultural and campus life,” Mackey said in an email to the campus community. “We have been developing the new site since last summer, with the insights of the students, faculty and staff on our redesign team.”

The redesign team collaborated with award-winning design firm Fastspot. Mackey said that many others had contributed to the discussion about the website’s goals as well, including President Biddy Martin and a wide range of students, staff and faculty.

In the email, Mackey provided a link to a prototype of the website for students and staff to preview before the official launch. The prototype did not encompass all the functions that the live site will have, but the general layout has been confirmed.

“The designs and prototype are done in a web platform, not on paper,” Mackey said. “They emerged around a set of creative guidelines our web redesign group — which includes students, faculty and staff — developed. We also want to present a fresh design that seems likely to work for the college throughout its life as our .edu site, which is going to be about five years.”In the prototype design, there are six panels stacked vertically on the homepage to scroll through. The first panel will show quotes, which Mackey said will feature three design styles that change on a timed rotation. The goal of the quotes and facts on the first panel is to emphasize Amherst’s educational values.

The second panel will be a fixed “Welcome to Amherst” page that features facts about the college as well as news about special student and faculty collaborations. The third panel, titled “Recently,” will feature special speakers and events at the college while the fourth panel, “Distinctive Classes,” will showcase unique classes and provide easier access to course description. Mackey described the fifth panel, “Happenings at Amherst,” as one through which students could easily access the event calendar. Finally, the sixth panel, titled “A Vibrant Community,” will provide direct links to Amherst College’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.

The one familiar feature on the prototype is the drop-down toolbar on the right hand side of the page with categories such as AC Data, Course Scheduler, Moodle and My Amherst arranged as they are in the current website.

In his email, Mackey said that the prototype aimed to show the design of the homepage and site structure, not individual department and office pages.

“We will provide expanded writing and design support to offices and departments to both help them keep their future sites up to date and take advantage of best practices in content and design,” Mackey said.

The final website design will continue to be built out before the website’s official launch in August.