UMass Boston Launches New Website
August 24, 2011
Office of Communications
New Look, Features, and Platform Bring Greater Focus on Connecting with Students, Highlighting University’s Initiatives, Achievements
The University of Massachusetts Boston has launched a new website designed to better connect with current and prospective students and enhance usability for faculty, staff, and other visitors to the site.
The most noticeable change is a homepage story-telling platform that aims to answer the question “Why UMass Boston?” This rotating series of stories looks at why people choose to attend, teach, conduct research at, and invest in the university. The stories highlight UMass Boston’s initiatives and achievements and showcase accomplished faculty, students, and alumni.
“We have so much to be proud of at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and our new website will help tell the world about the great things happening here,” said Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “This project is an important step in enhancing our university’s online image and promoting our brand as a great student-centered urban public research university.”
The new website also brings greater focus to making useful information readily accessible through a news, events, media, and construction updates feature on the homepage and a new Student Consumer Information section accessible from the homepage.
“In addition to better telling the UMass Boston story to local and international audiences, the new site will better serve current students and attract prospective students because it will be easier to find key information,” said Kathleen Teehan, vice chancellor for Enrollment Management. “We know how important it is to our primary constituency to be able to quickly find and access what they are looking for.”
The website redevelopment process began in the fall of 2009 with a strategy development phase, which included a series of stakeholder and follow-up meetings across campus to develop the underlying plan for the new site. The new strategy for the site identified current and prospective students as the primary audience, and it called for an intuitive way-finding architecture based on best practices in higher education and on usability studies.
This new approach moves the “doing business” functions for staff and faculty into the background, primarily in the “Info for Faculty & Staff” section linked to the homepage. Faculty and staff looking for internal support divisions can also use the homepage “Directory” or “Search” functions to find them efficiently. Resources for students are available in the “Life on Campus” section, with links to Email, WISER, and Blackboard at the top of the page.
“For some, the site may take some getting used to, as with any change,” said Anne Agee, CIO and vice provost for Information Technology. “But once you get familiar with the site, you’ll like what you see and you’ll find it easier to use and get to where you want to be.”
A strategic goal of the new site is to promote interactivity through highlighting social media connections, encouraging user-generated content through a homepage blog feature, and allowing readers to comment on stories. “Connect” modules throughout the site allow academic units and centers to showcase their own connections.
To make UMass Boston’s site more accessible, the university has developed a text-only version of the home page, has standardized the inclusion of so-called alt text so screen readers can describe the contents of photos, and will adopt a new video platform that will require all videos hosted on the university site to be captioned.
In addition to the new main website, the university is also launching an updated mobile site to enhance the user experience on smart phones.
We welcome your feedback as we launch our new site. You can fill out our feedback form, email email@example.com, or, in the first few days of the launch, call our Website Hotline at 617.287.6891 or 617.287.6892. The hotline will be staffed during normal business hours.
About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.