Many students, and potential students, at Lorain County Community College know the struggle of navigating the current school website all too well. In the spring of 2016 a phased launch plan was put into motion, only for the project to be seemingly put on hold. The team behind the project had instead decided to start over, building a new, solid foundation from the ground up.
“It turned into a much bigger job than we originally anticipated,” said Lori Martin, a member of the Marketing and Outreach Initiatives department and web content coordinator for the website project at LCCC. “Part of it is the technical environment. We put the new website into a cloud hosted server, so that the new website is not on servers here on campus,” Martin explained. “Getting the right configuration through amazon was something we wanted to do right. Because we know before we can build a solid website we need a solid foundation.”
The website update was originally set up to be released in phases by the fall 2016. As of now, the only live and updated portion of the site is the Stocker Arts Center page. The original plan was to update more critical areas of the website such as the programs, careers, and admissions pages.
“We had over 4000 pages of content when we first started this project. We’ve reduced it down to around 1600 pages. We’ve also reduced a lot of the content on those pages,” said Martin.
“It turned into a much bigger job than we originally anticipated.”
Part of the setback on release dates came from the team’s realization that the update was going to be a much bigger job than they anticipated. With this realization came the opportunity to build an entirely new site completely from scratch, with a new foundation and new servers to go along with it.
“We also learned a lot of lessons with our campus engagement. The site is built for the user; it isn’t built for those of us who work here. There’s a student group we worked very closely with to make sure that the website does what it needed to do,” Martin said.
Student and site user feedback was key in early development and will continue to be as such after the official launch of the new site.
“We have made great progress on the website, and we are very close. Not close enough to put a date on it, but we’re close. We want to promote, but there will be some communications coming out in the next few weeks with a target launch date,” said Martin.
Timing for the launch of the official site is on a delicate table, with finals and registration for the spring 2017 now open, the chaos of learning a new site would prove to be difficult for new site users and returning students. In student newsletters sent through their school emails, the team hopes to provide updates on the new website and an eventual launch date.
“As a college we’ve grown so much and the use of technology has grown so much in the last ten years. We needed to take all of that into account from the very beginning. What we have today started as a good little site, but as we kept building on and adding more pages we ended up with the leaning Ron Weasley house,” said Martin. “It was time for us to take a step further back than we originally intended to. Using the new tech and addressing what the students and site visitors need. We get about 2 million site users yearly.”
The initial launch is only the beginning. The team will continue to refine pages and observe site users in usability tests to determine what works and what does not. The content will remain largely the same despite the new web design and simplified display of information.