The new, top-level W&M website at http://www.wm.edu launched on July 31, 2008.
How long will the re.web project take to complete?
The project was officially announced in February 2007 and at the time, we anticipated a timetable of about 18 months. This estimate was based on conversations with web consultants and colleagues at schools that have completed similar projects.
Please note that the re.web project is not turnkey. Removing the IT jargon, this means that we won't all wake up one morning to find that all W&M sites have a brand new look from top to bottom. Quoting from the mStoner web strategy report for W&M, "The reinvented wm.edu going live in 2008 is the tip of the iceberg, as the College transitions from the idea that its web presence is a not a project but an ongoing process." We will plan a "big splash" with a lot of sites going live at the same time. But, there are thousands of W&M web pages and we'll be working beyond July 2008 to transition them to the reinvented www.wm.edu.
How broad is the scope of this project?
This question was tackled early on by the College's Web Redesign Advisory Committee. Enhancing the W&M web presence is of critical importance to the College and we've talked with many, many individuals about the benefits of participating in this campus-wide effort. We are happy to report that the web sites of School of Education, School of Law, Graduate Arts and Sciences, VIMS, and the Mason School of Business are within the scope of re.web.
Where can I view the designs for the new W&M website?
The mStoner team is working with us on web strategy. They were first on campus during the period of September 18 - 20, 2007 to meet with nearly 180 individuals (view the complete list of small group meeting participants). The purpose of the September visit was to learn about W&M and our expectations for our web site. During this strategic discovery phase, our consultants talked with a diverse group of students, faculty and staff. The mStoner consultants conducted similar sessions at the Law School on September 21, 2007, the School of Education on November 8, 2207, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on December 5, 2007. The on campus meetings with mStoner and the Mason School of Business were held on May 22 - 23, 2008. A new web presence for W&M graduate schools is part of the re.web scope.
During the strategic discovery phase, mStoner learned about William & Mary. Through a series of meetings with diverse members of our community, the consultants gained an understanding of W&M, and revealed our expectations for the College's web site. From their research, mStoner wrote a strategy report that is serving as the roadmap for the new W&M web presence. The report outlined a detailed project timeline and made recommendations about web site character, content and message.
We involved many, many students in the web redesign project. We are brought small groups of students together for focus groups, to gather information on students' perceptions about W&M, and to test new web site designs and navigation. To date, more than 60 students were invited to meet with mStoner during their first campus visit September 18 - 20, 2007. Also, all W&M law students were invited to complete an online survey and several graduate students in the School of Education met with the mStoner team on November 8, 2007. In early December 2007, about 15 W&M students attended a sneak peek presentation of the three design options for the new W&M Home page.
By mid-February 2008, all three student newspapers published stories about the web redesign. During spring 2008, writers are interviewing students for features that will be a part of the new site. Finally, we have official W&M student bloggers who are already blogging during summer 2008.
I see references to "information architecture" on the re.web site; what is that?
Information Architecture (IA) is "the art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability." It is the blueprint and the foundation upon which the rest of the site is built. IA is essential for the site map, navigation system, and search feature, as well as, for communicating a strategic message. Read more of our thoughts: IA, part 1 and IA, part 2.
Should my department hold off on plans to redesign our web site?
That depends. If by redesign you mean adding and refreshing content, you should not wait. After all, content is the purpose of your site. On the other hand, if you are planning a new look and feel for your site, or are about to purchase expensive software or consulting services, you should wait. Or, at least contact IT's Integrated Web Services Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We expect to offer a comprehensive and feature-rich way to publish official W&M web pages. And, we can talk with you about options in the interim.
What can I do now to prepare my site for the changes to come?
Will I have to learn a new way to update and maintain my department's web site?
The College purchased a web content management system (CMS) for creating and maintaining departmental sites. A primary factor for choosing Hannon Hill's Cascade Server is that this new system is easier to use than the current WM Web Templates.
What is a content management system (CMS) and why does the W&M site need one?
The short answer is that a CMS is an easier way to create and maintain web pages. In a nutshell, you log into your web site from a web browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox and you use a very simple interface to manage your site.
The re.web project team carefully evaluated dozens of products using a standard set of criteria over the course of many months. The list of potential candidates was narrowed down to two excellent options: Cascade Server and RedDot. On January 23 - 24, 2008, mStoner and their sister company, Global Image, demonstrated the features and functionality of these two web content management systems to more than 100 campus stakeholders. The feedback from these demonstrations was used in the final selection process.
Is Cascade used at other College and Universities?
Yes! University of Richmond, NC State, Duke, Brandeis, and Carnegie Mellon are among the many schools using Cascade.
Where can I find more information about W&M's new CMS?
Will training be provided for the new web content management system?
You bet! Training sessions—similar to those IT already offers—will certainly be provided for those needing to create and/or edit web pages. We also expect these sessions to include training on how to write for the web (it is different!).
Why did we do this project? Did the W&M web site really need to be redesigned?
The best answer to this question is found in the report of a web assessment committee appointed by Provost Geoff Feiss in July 2006. In their report, the committee noted that, "For the period of August 2005 to July 2006, the William and Mary web site received 11.6 million visitors. Internet usage trends indicate that the College can expect a growing number of web users each year, and given the proven importance of our web site, we have a unique position to improve our web presence and bolster the effectiveness of our communication efforts through a comprehensive web site redesign."
How can I make a suggestion or give comments?
Visits to this web site are a great way to participate. We also invite you to read and comment on the project blog. We are conducting small focus groups, attending standing meetings, making group presentations, surveying current and prospective students, and making personal visits. We even have a re.web presence on Facebook!
If you have questions about the project, you may contact
, Chair of the re.web Project.