A Kenyon Web DebutGAMBIER, Ohio (June 4, 2008) Kenyon has launched a new Web site that seeks to capture the vitality of the College while providing abundant information which users can navigate and search with greater ease. The debut of the redesigned site marks the culmination of a year-long effort involving the entire campus community along with alumni, parents, and prospective students.
Designed by White Whale Web Services of Oakland, California, the new site features a homepage "photomosaic wall" of 27 clickable images, which serve as both a visual metaphor and set of entry points into the multifaceted Kenyon experience. "No one picture can tell Kenyon's story," said Jason Pontius, president of White Whale, "but the mosaic can suggest the energy of the College and give a quick, intuitive understanding of the sort of place it is."
The mosaic will change regularly and can be replaced with a single image, or two or three images, when the College wishes to highlight an event, program, or story. The aim is to make the homepage as flexible as possible.
White Whale also overhauled the site navigation structure and developed quick-access tools for a number of Web pages. The College's public affairs staff, meanwhile, revamped the search engine. The goal, throughout, was user-friendliness. In addition, writers from both the company and public affairs drafted 66 pages of new text, seeking to expand and improve on existing content.
The College's previous Web site had been in place since 2003. Planning for the new site began last spring with a survey of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and prospective students. Their views helped to shape a request for proposals from nine Web design firms. A committee made up of faculty and staff, and led by the public affairs office, selected White Whale from among four finalists. A student member joined the committee later.
The White Whale staff visited campus several times, meeting with the committee and with many other members of the community in order to gain a better understanding of both Kenyon and its Web needs. The company created a forum on its own Web site where community members could post comments and questions on elements of the new design as they emerged. Later, focus groups tried out a nearly complete version of the site, which was revised in accordance with some of their suggestions.
One of the company's aims was to develop a site that was more closely aligned with the College's award-winning print publications. Another goal was to lay the groundwork for greater use of multimedia formats in the future. Kenyon recently introduced an "iTunes U" feature, allowing users to download lectures and interviews. The College is also planning a new online tour that will eventually incorporate student-produced audio and video productions.