New features enhance University Web site, create easier access

By Sarah Small

Over the summer, students logging onto the familiar University home page may have noticed a completely new site with different locations for old features as well as for new ones.

This new site was launched by the Office of Public Affairs during the summer months.

The old site was created in a very simple format, said Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs Robin Kaler. Over time, more and more things were hung on it, which made it increasingly difficult for students to operate.

“The new site is intended to reach all of the campus and create a close community,” Kaler said.

In preparation for launching the new site, feedback testing was done to determine which features students used most frequently. They were placed strategically on the site to provide students with easy access.

“The most commonly used features are e-mail, maps, the ‘find people’ option and weather,” Kaler said.

In addition to making frequently used features easier for students to locate, the new Web site also has new ones.

The new “A Minute With” feature provides a space for the University to highlight various faculty and their accomplishments on campus.

Another feature new to the Web site is “Here and Now.” This option is not yet running, but will be available for students, faculty and alumni in the coming weeks. This feature allows persons affiliated with the University to post photos and videos of their personal experiences on campus.

“This is an option for people to delve down a little more deeply into the campus,” Kaler said.

Another option on the new home page is the emergency notification system that was tested Tuesday.

“It’s just another way we can reach you in the event of an emergency,” Kaler said.

The Office of Public Affairs has various options for students having difficulty navigating the new site. They plan to hold information sessions to inform people on how to use the site, or students can contact the Office of Public Affairs for further assistance, Kaler said.

She also said students who see crucial elements missing from this site can e-mail the Office of Public Affairs, and they will modify the site.

Despite the assistance offered, some students are finding the new site difficult to navigate after being accustomed to the old one.

“It’s okay,” said Marsha Michalek, senior in ACES. “It’s a lot harder to find the links I use a lot. I’ve gotten used to it now, but it was hard at first.”

Mike McEvilly, junior in ACES, also had trouble getting used to the new site, but likes some of the changes.

“I like that they changed the URL from ‘uiuc.edu’ to ‘illinois.edu’ because now it will be easier for people to learn more about the University,” said McEvilly.

This change coincided with the Illinois Domain Project that went into effect on July 14 that changed CITES e-mail addresses from “[email protected]” to “[email protected]

Kaler said the administration is satisfied with the new site but will continue to change things as deemed necessary.

“The site is an eye into the campus,” Kaler said. “It’s designed so you can see the things that are important to us.”