August 27, 2008

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LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell University has today launched its new University and athletics Web sites, featuring comprehensive new designs, expanded video and photography elements and improved navigation between and throughout both sites.

The new designs are intended to showcase the diverse academic strengths of the University’s students and faculty, according to Pete Mackey, vice president for communications.

“The creation of strategic documents like The Plan for Bucknell, coupled with last year’s research to gauge national perceptions of Bucknell, meant we had a clearer idea of both our audience and our message. The new designs were greatly informed by both that research and the University’s vision. Our goal was a site that is at once elegant and youthful, lively and informative.”

Exciting photography
The University Web site’s new home page, for example, features bold and exciting photography, video, news and event highlight blocks, links to the “Year in the Life” feature in which Bucknell students chronicle their campus experience student blogs and audio files.

The redesign includes connections to popular social media hubs such as Youtube and quick links to gateways for alumni (B-Link), parents and current students, faculty and staff. An aggregate news page – with a prominent video feature and events calendar – now provides news and event information all on one page. Also coming soon is a new custom-designed virtual tour featuring interactive elements that allow prospective students to personalize their tour of Bucknell, including facilities as well as academic programming.

The new Bison site features similar features tailored to Bison athletics, including links to live video coverage of Bison athletics and regular updates of game scores from the University’s 27 Division I athletics programs.

Advisory group
Led by Roberta Sims, associate director of digital communications, a Bucknell Web advisory group that included students, faculty and staff, in collaboration with the Baltimore-based Web design consultant Fastspot, began laying groundwork for the redesigns nearly a year ago.

Sims said the work involved all sectors of the campus community and is the culmination of focus groups, an analysis of peer school Web sites, a review of the site’s architecture, usability testing, a content audit and technical and programming work to implement the design in Ingeniux, the University’s content management system.

“The old sites had been up for more than four years,” said Sims. “In that time, web technologies improved dramatically even as the way that people interact with the web evolved. Visitors will see more editorial and video content that highlights the breadth of opportunities for students and the expansive teaching and research programs of Bucknell faculty, as well as more timely information than ever before about University news, academic and cultural events, and athletics results.”

Design concept
In April, Fastspot visited campus to present three design concepts.

“Since then we’ve been refining and enhancing the design, exploring how the navigation will work,  and testing the overall impression with prospective students and parents,” said Sims.

A sneak peek of the redesign was offered to the campus starting in June to solicit community feedback. To keep the campus community informed about the redesign, Web development maintained a blog devoted to the project.

The redesign impacts the entire Bucknell website. The new Virtual Tour will debut early in fall 2008.

Last year, the Web site, one of the primary University’s communications tools, received more than 21 million hits from visitors located around the globe, or more than an average of 404,000 pageviews each week.

Contact: Division of Communications