NYU’s web presence is as essential to its image as its physical presence in Washington Square and beyond. And like the University itself, NYU.edu, the University website, is organic—constantly evolving and always reflecting new innovations.
Since the last redesign of the NYU website in 2005, much has changed about the way people use the Internet and the way in which information is presented online. Five years ago, YouTube had just launched; Facebook reserved its membership for college and university communities only; and web user interfaces were markedly different.
Over the past two years, the NYU Office of Web Communications and ITS have been collaborating on developing a new web presence for the University. They began by creating a multiphase redesign plan that would take into consideration the University’s new priorities and needs, and restructure the core NYU.edu website so that visitors could find information more easily, without needing to know the organizational structure for NYU. Another main goal of the plan was to unify the overall look of the website, while still allowing individual departments and offices to update and maintain their own web pages independently.
The solution: a content management system (CMS). A CMS can be used to create, edit, manage, and publish various kinds of content on web pages without ever touching the HTML, CSS, or other programming languages that power the website.
With a CMS, webmasters and administrators would have several important features at their disposal that were not available with the previous web site, including the ability to:
- manage images and video in a central location, and add them to the site with a few clicks
- use workflows to notify the correct people when new information has been published online, or is ready for approval
- share authoring responsibilities, making it possible to assign individuals and groups specific roles and responsibilities, allowing access to only particular content
- display important content on multiple pages quickly, easily, and without needing to maintain it in multiple locations
After an extensive review process, the redesign team selected Communiqué 5 (CQ), from Day Software, Inc. ITS and the Office of Web Communications provide training in the use of CQ to the appropriate staff members before an office or department’s website is migrated over to the CMS, and the online and knowledge base support for NYU web authors providing content for the new website is growing every day.
The move to the CMS will take place in phases. Phase I involved the installation, implementation, and redesign of NYU.edu. The new site launched on March 17, with roughly half of the administrative offices migrated into the CMS. It is expected that by the end of spring 2011, the web pages of all University administrative offices will reside in the CMS, including those of ITS. Although schools and academic departments are not required to migrate their web pages to the new CMS, many have already joined the queue, so as to be able to take advantage of the benefits the CQ offers. All web pages within the NYU.edu website—regardless of whether they are managed with the new CMS—will remain visible, searchable, and updatable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dana Rasso is the editor of Connect magazine.