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New Web site user friendly

November 19th, 2009

The John Carroll University community and prospective students can expect changes to the University Web site’s homepage that will modernize its appearance and simplify navigation around the site.

John Carfagno, assistant vice president of integrated marketing and communication at JCU, said the updates to the homepage are the first part of a larger overhaul to the Web site and the new homepage should be implemented sometime after Thanksgiving break.

The current Web site has two main problems, according to Carfagno: information architecture and the presentation of data.  Information architecture refers to the navigation of the site and the site’s ability to be user-friendly.  The second concern is related to the cluttered links that dominate the current homepage.

“A spotlight on a dozen things is a spotlight on nothing,” Carfagno said, referring to the spotlight section of the current homepage. “Therein itself is the problem.”

Carfagno said that some people do not know that JCU has a business school or that graduate programs are available.

“We can use the Web to make it more obvious that we have these things here,” he said.

Carfagno said a link would be added to the current homepage that will allow the campus community to preview and provide feedback on the new homepage by Nov. 20.

Freshman Cadia Wiley said that she likes the tabs on the current Web site but finds the left column confusing.

“Once you know how to use it [current Web site], it is really easy to use, but if you don’t, it’s hard to navigate around,” she said.

Kaylee Sutton, a junior, agreed that the JCU Web site could use some improvements.

“I wish there was a core requirements tab or a direct link,” said Sutton. “I can never find it.”

Carfagno said the updates to the homepage will give the site a cleaner look and will organize a hierarchy of the information on the page.

“Let’s make the student recruitment message more obvious,” Carfagno said, “and the tools current students use more accessible.”

The updated homepage provides a drop-down menu in the upper-right-hand corner of the page of the most common tools used by students.

The drop-down menu includes links to JCU e-mail and BannerWeb, among others.

The tabs near the top of the current homepage, which connect users to the pages for academics, campus life, athletics and more, are enlarged on the updated site.

The photo slideshow has also been enlarged and dominates the middle section of the updated page. The slideshow also has a new feature that allows users to jump to certain images within the slideshow.

A scrolling bar near the bottom of the page is a new feature that will allow JCU to promote different activities and events on campus.

Carfagno said, “The moving, visual graphics can get attention better.”

The updates did not require any additions to the budget and all work on the design was done in-house.

Carfagno said he hopes the Web site will eventually become a “story-telling platform” for prospective students that will attract them to JCU.