The Office of Communications is partnering with Baltimore-based web design agency Fastspot to develop a new Kenyon website. The redesign, which is scheduled to launch before the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, will be the first since 2013.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve [the website], add new features, new functionality,” said Director of Web Strategy Patty Burns. “But there comes a time when it makes sense to step back and look at the site in a more holistic way. And a redesign gives you that opportunity.”
According to Burns, the website has been overhauled approximately once every five years, though there is no established schedule. This year’s redesign comes in the wake of a 2018 survey of prospective students, current students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff on their perceptions of Kenyon.
“[The website] is the face of Kenyon to many people, at least the first face, and getting that right is really important,” said Vice President for Communications Janet Marsden.
Though Burns and Marsden hope that people from all corners of the Kenyon community will find the new website useful, much of the redesign is geared towards prospective students, increasing numbers of whom are accessing the site via cellphone. Fastspot will optimize the site for mobile devices, reorganize it and update its architecture, modifications which should all increase the ease of navigation.
The Office of Communications previously partnered with Fastspot during the 2013 redesign. “They have other schools that they work with, and have the perspective of what’s happening in the broader web landscape,” Marsden said. “But they also know Kenyon really well, because they have done at least one full site with us … We get the best of both worlds in that respect.”
An 11-member advisory group and seven Office of Communications employees will provide input on the redesign. The committee includes Burns, who has helped guide the last three redesigns of the Kenyon website, and one student representative, Paige Bullock ’21.
“We’re so inside it. We know it from the bowels. And to have people who are users, and who might be connecting with a broad range of other users, their perspective on it … is really valuable,” said Marsden.
On Sept. 16 and 17, Fastspot will visit Kenyon’s campus to meet with stakeholders and conduct research. They plan to interview students with a range of majors and interests to gather feedback on the current website and ideas for its future.