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Work begins on CSU-Pueblo website redesign

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A screenshot of the home page of CSU-Pueblo's website. A full website redesign is currently underway.
A screenshot of the CSU-Pueblo website’s homepage. The site has not been redesigned for eight years.

A complete redesign of the Colorado State University-Pueblo website started this past week and is anticipated to extend through the next five to eight months.

The website is overdue for a refresh. Manager of the Instructional Technology department at CSU-Pueblo, Adam Pocius, said websites are typically redesigned or updated every five years. The CSU-Pueblo website has not had a complete overhaul in the past eight years.

Pocius said that the main goal of the redesign is to optimize the website for mobile devices, enhancing its usability and extending the backend tools for web editors to post quality content.

“We’ve been working well over the last year to research what we need to do to better for our website,” Pocius said.

One of the main focuses is usability and consistent presentation of quality content. The redesign will incorporate improvements to the current information architecture, navigation structure and its presentation on smart devices.  “We want to address the issue of responsive design for mobile devices,” Pocius added.

Pocius confirmed that Information Technology Services department is partnering with IT contractor Beacon Technologies for the project, which will include consultation in developing the online strategy, optimization for mobile devices, responsive templates and part of the subsequent phase-in of actual content that will be migrated into the templates.

Search engine optimization is another main focus for the team.  “The way algorithms – implemented by search engines – interpret smart devices, is integral to the effectiveness of the site getting users to content they are searching for,” Pocius said

The budget for the redesign is $100,000, which will mainly fund contracted work and does not include the CSU-Pueblo team’s salaries. Beacon is responsible for assisting in development of the web strategy, templates and for creating various mock-ups for approval from the web committee, which has not been confirmed yet.

“When you talk about a college nowadays, it’s not necessarily the physical campus anymore.  When you say CSU-Pueblo, the first place you think about is the digital side of it. If you think about our campus outside of a 50-mile radius, the only thing people would know about is what they would gather through our website. What we are trying to do is build a better window to see our university,” Pocius said.

“Quality content provided by our web editors through this new website will provide a clear picture of who we are,” he said.

The key players from CSU-Pueblo include Pocius, web developer Lallo Vigil, and network administrator Greg Hoeck. Many constituent representatives will form part of the web committee that will provide input and approvals throughout the entire process.

“The progress of the project will be measured by a timeline with set goals for deliverables. The emphasis, however, is on doing it right and not rushing it,” Pocius said.

A transition will take place from the current content management system, SharePoint, to Cascade. The team has employed four student work-studies, who are responsible for checking the website for missing links, updating content, and other issues that deter optimal usability. Other key issues include ensuring that quality control standards are met, and that compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is consistently enforced.

“It’s a big picture project and something we intend to be a positive for the university,” Pocius said of the project.

Pocius wants users to know that the website will be different, and the platform will include vast improvements, thereby making it more efficient and user-friendly for users, while giving current web editors better tools to get quality and timely content posted.

The new architecture will also alleviate server-related issues, making it possible to maintain ongoing communication on campus.

Pocius emphasized that a survey will be distributed within the next month, via various communication methods, aimed at getting input from users about what they expect from the redesign.

The deadline for implementation is fall 2016.