In October, Chancellor Kristensen set his sights on unk.edu and tasked a small group to set a course for improving the look and usability of our website. With an investment of one-time money from his office and from interim President Linder, the chancellor asked for immediate improvement for the website and a plan to sustain the changes.
UNK’s webmaster Thane Webb, dean John La Duke, admissions director Dusty Newton, assistant vice chancellor Jane Sheldon and I represented the primary audiences and outcomes for our website and over six weeks heard ideas and made decisions on how to improve unk.edu.
We agreed: the website needs a refresh in its design, having become somewhat dated. We compared it to our competitors’ websites to identify designs that are on trend. We asked students and reviewed data and sought some input from local agencies and created a new look for unk.edu featuring big, bold photos and focusing on what makes UNK unique – our brand story that focuses on the student experience.
In November we showed our ideas and preliminary designs to Chancellor Kristensen and obtained direction to move forward with the look and plan that will help turn unk.edu into a website that is more appealing, easier to navigate, that helps keep prospective and current students interested and engaged – a website that we think will blow people away. Our philosophical discussions among our web redesign committee focused on the importance of the website in student recruitment and retention, primarily. Our website is the most important communication tool we have. It should tell our story. It should receive the attention and resources required.
As we have worked over the last few months, seeking input and having discussions among academic departments, with students, with department and unit staffs, it is clear that the desire is strong and that everyone is excited about the direction we’re moving together. Now that isn’t to say that changes will be easy, since whenever new ideas or methods are introduced into a system, questions abound.
In this space we hope to provide periodic reports of where we are in the process, and provide more explanation of the new unk.edu. I will post links and images so you can see what the pages are going to look like, and as always, I invite your feedback.
Later this month, we will host a meeting to update anyone interested so you can see and ask questions, because we know there are many, and the questions you have will be shared by others. Look for an email in Announce, and a note on this site, about that meeting.
We are on schedule, on budget, and with a lot of hard work we will be launching the new unk.edu in May.
This new website will indeed be a difference-maker in our communication efforts and I hope you are pleased.
~ KELLY BARTLING
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications & Community Relations