After three and a half years with the current Duke University Web site, a new site is set to launch by the end of September, said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations.
The new home page will incorporate audio and video feeds, helpful campus links and social media links, including a calendar and mobile access, Schoenfeld said. He added that extra tools such as an interactive campus map and an "A-to-Z" directory of University departments could be added over the coming months.
"The Duke home page is the most visible and busiest 'front door' to the University," Schoenfeld said. "We get well more than 1 million visitors a month.. The Web has evolved into a very dynamic medium and we want to be able to present Duke in a compelling, intuitive and interactive way, while at the same time making it even easier for visitors to find and navigate to the information they are looking for."
Blackwell Interactive, a Web site design division of the Office of Information Technology, has been responsible for much of the production, design and testing of the new site, said Senior Manager Blyth Morrell. She added that planning for the new Web site began as early as February and most of the production of the site took place over the summer.
Morrell said there will be increased functionality in the new site as improvements are made in response to user feedback.
"The current version is relatively flat," Morrell said. "This iteration [will] really encompass the many things that are happening around Duke. [We're] trying to wrap that up and give more of a visual display of the many areas Duke is focusing on."
In addition to the new look and organization, Schoenfeld said OIT has been upgrading and enhancing the search engine, which covers 1 million pages of content the Web site currently contains.
Schoenfeld and Morrell said the University is currently in the review and testing phase of the site, and will continue to do so until its proposed launch late next month. Schoenfeld added that Duke has created a blog where the community can review the new design and features of the site.
"This site belongs to the Duke community, so we want as many people as possible to be familiar with it, and test drive it, before we go live," Schoenfeld said.
As the release date approaches, Morrell said there will be more publicity on campus for the Web site's launch, which will be done during an off-peak time. She said there should be little, if any, interruption of the Web site's services.
Schoenfeld said the creation of a new site is an important achievement for Duke, adding that the team is constantly looking at Web sites for other universities and organizations, and has garnered a lot of good ideas in the process.
"Doing a project like this is quite complex, and 'under the hood.' There are many innovations that will be very exciting and useful but don't necessarily see the light of day," Schoenfeld said. "This will be a huge step forward for Duke."
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