Georgetown University launched a new Georgetown.edu homepage Oct. 9 which includes new multimedia content, user-friendly navigation and added visuals.
The new website, which will use the content management system WordPress, is the first major website redesign for the university since 2010. Vice President of Public Affairs Erik Smulson and Vice President for Information Technology Judd Nicholson notified the Georgetown community of the transition in an email Tuesday evening.
The website redesign will help to spread Georgetown’s mission by better informing visitors about information on the university. The new design will also showcase the school’s best qualities and improve the website experience for individuals both inside and outside of the Georgetown community, according to Nicholson.
“We hope that prospective students, undergraduate and graduate, will better understand what makes Georgetown different and the opportunities available to them as a student,” Nicholson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Woven throughout, viewers will experience the real impact of our Catholic and Jesuit identity, location in DC, research and academic expertise and diverse community.”
The old website could not support some of the visual elements that aid in conveying the Georgetown experience, according to Nicholson.
“We wanted Georgetown.edu to be able to tell our story in visually compelling and dynamic ways that our previous site couldn’t accommodate,” Nicholson wrote. “We sought to incorporate multimedia that resonates with current and prospective students, such as first-person student video or social media posts.”
The university worked with Digital Pulp, a New York-based digital agency that has previously worked with Harvard University, Columbia University and the University of Virginia on website redesign, according to Nicholson and Smulson’s email to the Georgetown community.
Although Digital Pulp did provide expertise in higher education website redesign, the website redesign also required efforts from many members of the Georgetown community, according to Nicholson.
Georgetown.edu’s “Areas of Study” page hosts information about possible majors and minors, making it crucial for students, according to Nicolo Ferretti (SFS ’21), the Georgetown University Student Association director of university affairs and the student representative to the Top Tier Redesign working group comprised of students, staff and faculty from each Georgetown school who regularly met to review and give feedback on the site’s layout, design and copy. Consequently, the redesign focused on clarifying that page for students and faculty.
“In its first form, the areas of study page did not have the option to separate majors by school, so it was unclear what school you would have to apply to or transfer to enroll in a major,” Ferretti wrote in an email to The Hoya. “By adding better filters, we allowed students to easily explore their academic options.”
Beyond improving website experiences for the current Georgetown community, the redesign will hopefully also yield benefits for prospective students, according to Ferretti.
“Once someone is actually enrolled at Georgetown, they don’t really interface with Georgetown.edu a lot because they are using MyAccess, Canvas, and Starrez platforms straightaway,” Ferretti wrote. “Because of this, a lot of the newest features try to make the experience of prospective Hoyas better.”
The new website provides an equally operative experience for all users, including those with vision or hearing needs, by fulfilling the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA, instructions released by the World Wide Web Consortium to make online resources accessible for those with disabilities. Web design experts from the working group assisted in improving the website’s accessibility, according to Ferretti.
“The working group featured web design experts who were super into making the interface accessible,” Ferretti wrote. “I think the central webpage does a good job in being perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.”
The redesign from the old Drupal operating system stretches beyond the homepage and main tabs. Academic departments including Georgetown College’s mathematics and statistics department have been working with University Information Services to transition to the WordPress content management system, according to Department Administrator Robert Pike.
The College’s mathematics and statistics department started its transition to the new website in the spring, earlier than most departments, and the shift has gone smoothly, according to Pike.
“The Mathematics and Statistics Department has had an easy transition. The folks at UIS made the WordPress migration very successful, offering training and being very responsive to outstanding issues and our accessibility,” Pike wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Additionally our staff users who contribute to the site have embraced what is seen as an easier user-friendly format with WordPress than the previous Drupal interface.”