The year 2006—that was the last time Ithaca College did a major website overhaul like the one we're undertaking now. Yep, that's right. And now, after more than ten years, Ithaca.edu is getting a full rethink, rebuild, and redesign, and there are a lot of good reasons why.
Expectations about websites, and the Internet in general, were different back in 2006. There were no iPhones, the web was only about 10 years old in most people's minds, and the tools and aesthetics used on websites were much less sophisticated or engaging compared to what's out there today.
YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter were only a year or two old, and websites at the time were mostly limited to displaying static information (plus a little bit of multimedia if you were lucky) on a desktop or laptop screen. Back then, the focus for IC's web team was on building a website and content management system (CMS) that would serve the college and its audiences well for the next several years, and the site at the time did just that.
But technology changes quickly... and along with it, our users' expectations. Today's standards rely on beautiful, modern visual design, speedy loading on any type of device, rich imagery, and a sensibly navigable site. Our internal content managers' needs and expectations have also grown since that time and the existing CMS (called Web Profile Manager) has not been able to keep up. It's clear our website has a lot of catching up to do, both for our public users and content managers, and for important strategic reasons, too.
As we rely more and more on our website to attract prospective students to enroll, prospective faculty and staff to work here, and alumni to re-engage, we simply don't look as good as some of our competitors. Higher-ed institutions have been investing significant amounts of their budget into maintaining an impressive digital presence, and we need to keep pace to stay competitive. The time had come to drastically reformulate our site and the tools and processes used to support it.
And so, with the collaboration and inclusion of dozens of people across campus and a few fine firms, we set out on our mission: to create the foundation for the most idyllic website possible for Ithaca College, leaning heavily on research, cross-campus conversation, hard work, and commitment. We're pledging to continue to develop and evolve the site permanently, so that we never again need a major overhaul; rather, a constant refinement and iteration process to stay fresh.
While we prepare for the rollout of the new site, please check back here for more info and updates on how we're setting up Ithaca.edu for an evolved—and always evolving—experience.