In the coming weeks, students at Lorain County Community College will notice major changes to the school’s website.
The development of the new page designs has been nearly two years in the making, according to Lori Martin, a member of LCCC’s marketing and outreach initiatives department and the web content coordinator for the project.
“We knew we needed to replace the software platform for the website,” Martin explained, “because the one we use now, it’s gone out of support; it’s obsolete.”
The research for the project started in the summer of 2014 and was centered around the different platforms the school website could be moved to.
“That research and that work led us to realize that we had an opportunity and a need to really recreate the whole structure of our website,” Martin said.
Martin said that the foundation of LCCC’s website has not been revised in a very long time. In that time, the website went from containing roughly 800 pages to now holding several thousand pages. Since the same structure did not work for holding so many more pages of information, this encouraged Martin to start reconstructing the site essentially from scratch.
“We realized we needed to take a full step back,” Martin stated, “and really start from the ground up and build a new site with new navigation, new content, new design, new focus on everything.”
The blueprint for the webpage consists of a new toolbar featuring fast access to menus for admissions, student resources, and campus life. Below this, four quick links appear for applications, registering for classes, offered programs and careers, and paying for college. The color scheme is a crisp white background with blue menus and splashes of yellow.
The existing website is about nine years old and had been built based around the previous school sites, Martin explained. The current page had fonts and colors updated about three years ago, she said. However, at that point there was no plan to completely change its functionality.
“This is the biggest overhaul the site has gone through,” Martin said.
The project team, which includes Martin; computer resource specialist, Joe Querin; and web intern, David Brattoli, has utilized computer science and user experience and usability to make the design easier to maneuver.
“Technology has changed so much,” Martin commented. “Ten years ago, this wasn’t a science.”
While data like this will play a major part of how the layout will look and work, student input has also been considered. Martin and the project team have held several campus engagements in the past few weeks in conjunction with the Student Life office. These sessions have given the team a better understanding of where students expect information to be found on the school’s site, Martin explained.
Martin said the team has also utilized what they call ‘usability testing’, which takes participants who are not familiar with the school in any way, and has them perform tasks interacting with the website.
“Getting that perspective to identify issues with the site, that then gives us an opportunity to fix things that weren’t obvious to us,” Martin stated. “The user experience is going to be, really, our primary focus.”
What this means is a change in the way the team had to look at the website. In the past, it was simply a matter of putting every piece of information out there, Martin said. But now, the focus has shifted to considering who is visiting the site.
“The whole premise of usability is not to make the website our filing cabinet,” Martin stated. “We have to think, ‘Who is our site visitor? What questions do they have when they come to our website?’ And how do we answer those questions in a way that’s clear and that provides them with a good experience with our website,” Martin continued. “They find the answers easily, making it all about the site visitor, instead of about the information that we have that we can put out there.”
As it stands now, the site uses a lot of ‘internal terminology’, as Martin puts it. That essentially means that prospective students don’t necessarily understand what acronyms and other terms might mean. She said the site averages about 2 million visitors per year, and that mostly comes from potential students.
Meanwhile, current students have expressed frustrations over the current site’s search tool during campus engagement sessions. A brand new Google search bar will remedy this problem.
Currently there are no dates set for future campus engagement sessions, but Martin said there are plans to hold a few more this semester.
Students and faculty can expect to see new updates to the site in the coming weeks, as the new design will be rolled out in three separate phases. The entirety of the new site is expected to be completed and online by the end of the summer. A sample of the new homepage design can be viewed by visiting www.lorainccc.edu/newhomepage.
LCCC new website schedule
Phase 1: Launching Soon
Stocker Arts Center
Phase 2: Tentative Launch, Late Spring
Programs & Careers
Admissions/ Registration/ Enrollment/ Financial Aid
Phase 3: Tentative Launch, Summer
All remaining sites and tools