Redesigned Buffalo State Web Site to Debut in October

More than a year in the making, a redesigned Buffalo State College Web site featuring a new look, streamlined navigation, updated content, better integration of the college’s popular Web 2.0 tools, and greater interactivity is scheduled to launch in late October.

“We’re continually looking for ways to add to and improve the site,” said Paul Kruczynski, associate director of Web community and development in the College Relations Office. “You have to stay current.”

The college’s home page currently serves multiple audiences—prospective and current students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, friends, and others—and receives more than 10 million unique visitors each year. As such, the needs of site users are continually assessed.

“We want to weave together all the tools we have available and make the site holistic,” said Sue Zilliox, Web graphic designer. “We want it to look elegant and smart, and we want information to be even easier to find. The site should be more of an experience.”

Ongoing discussion with the Web Tastemakers group and a campus Web forum helped the Web team identify the features that are currently most important to faculty and staff. To gauge student needs, the Web team surveyed more than 200 Buffalo State students and completed card-sorting exercises with more than 50 current students. In 2006, the Web team approached the Rochester Institute of Technology (R.I.T.) about conducting a full-scale usability study with high school students.

“The most important thing we heard from the R.I.T. study was that prospective students want college Web sites to be as simple as possible,” Kruczynski said. “Simplifying our site is actually what takes the longest time to accomplish.”

For the redesign, simplifying has meant, among other things, making more room to focus on recruitment and community-building initiatives.

“We must engage prospective students in a compelling way,” said Ann Brown, interim associate vice president for college relations. “The new site will do that by creating opportunities to better showcase departments and allow faculty and staff to ‘talk’ directly to students. The ultimate goal is to get the best students in our classrooms.”

Simplifying the site also has meant collecting resources for specific audiences and putting them into single locations. For example, the site will feature a section called MYBuffState—a one-stop audience-specific destination designed to help pave the way for the campus portal. Pre-portal MYBuffState will feature direct links to all critical applications (Degree Navigator, Banner, e-mail, etc.) and commonly used campus resources. Audience-specific announcements will also be posted under MYBuffState.

“MYBuffState begins to look at serving a need that has continually been requested by faculty and students,” said Mark Norris, associate director of Web administration. “I think the concept really took off when For Faculty/Staff was launched with the 2004 redesign. MYBuffState will become a greatly improved repository for everything you need.”

In addition, a News and Events section will debut. News, events, podcasts, blog and forum posts, and gallery photos will all be presented in an exciting, user-friendly format.

“It’s going to be great to finally have all of these resources in one spot,” Norris added. “The News and Events section will showcase everything that’s happening on campus in one easy-to-scan location. I know it’s going to become an extremely popular destination.”

The campus will sample the new site during a “soft launch” in mid-October, when home page coverage and Daily announcements will take users to a site preview.

The Web team is grateful for the collaborative spirit found within the Web Tastemakers, a group of faculty and staff members who have volunteered to work with the team to evaluate Web applications in process. New tastemakers are always welcome. Please contact Melissa Meehan, 878-3903, for more information about the site redesign or to volunteer to become a tastemaker.