By Henry Burbank
Over the summer, while students were soaking in the sun or chasing internships, a team from the Baltimore-based company Fastspot visited campus to help Kenyon with a problem: its outdated website.
Although Kenyon updated its site in 2007, technology has changed substantially in the last five years, according to Director of New Media Patricia Burns. We want to be able to incorporate a lot more video, a lot more social media, a lot more user-generated content, Burns said. The structure of our design just simply doesnt allow us to have that content in the site in any kind of way thats easy or engaging to see.
The fundamental goal of the project, Burns said, is to help us showcase Kenyon in a way that is not coming through on the current site. The website is the first point of contact typically for a prospective student. [We want] to tell Kenyons story in an engaging way.
To help achieve this goal, Kenyon established a committee of faculty members and hired Fastspot, an award-winning web design company with clients that include Tufts University, Dickinson College and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Fastspot will have representatives on campus in October to ask for input from the community and do research. The company also plans to introduce a new content management system (CMS) to revitalize the website.
Kenyons current CMS is nearly 10 years old and is not a particularly user-friendly platform, according to Burns. The goal of the CMS is to separate the design from the content so that you dont need to know about web design to update a web page, she said. Once the new site launches, administrators will be able to publish more frequent and informative content.
The new site, which is scheduled to launch in June 2013, will cost the College an estimated $200,000, according to Burns, who says the projects importance justifies the cost. In a market where Kenyon is competing with other top-notch institutions, a strong website is critical for attracting prospective students.
The website is the Colleges calling card, Burns said.