University Relations will launch a new design for, the main web presence for Virginia Tech, on Aug. 23.

The launch culminates an effort that took more than a year to plan, develop, and implement. The process to gather feedback and share ideas for the redesign involved more than 58 meetings with campus leadership and groups, user tests with prospective students, and focus groups and surveys involving the campus community, stakeholders, and alumni.

“Throughout this process, we have sought to inform and engage the campus community,” said Tracy Vosburgh, senior associate vice president for University Relations. “As Virginia Tech’s ‘front door,’ needs to reflect the priorities and values that make this institution distinct. Through this redesign, we believe we’ve accomplished that.”

The new design features consistent global navigation that every page within the web presence can adopt. For sites that use the university’s enterprise content management system (CMS), the change to the new format will involve selecting a different template. For sites outside of the CMS, a code library will be shared with the assets and scripts needed to make the change.

In addition to a global navigation, the new template and design are built to make all content accessible to site visitors, particularly users who require assistive technology to navigate web pages.

“From day one, a top objective for us to accomplish was greater site accessibility,” said Brad Soucy, director of design and digital strategy for University Relations. “From the beginning, we’ve worked closely with Assistive Technologies within the Division of Information Technology. Through that collaboration, we’ve greatly improved the web experience for all of our site visitors.”

Many of the accessibility requirements are embedded within the code of the new template. By adopting the template and following the best practices established through the redesign process, more sites within the web presence will be accessible, Soucy added.

Another site objective was better search engine optimization. Through a refined content strategy and site structure, pages will be built and monitored to gauge their effectiveness in search result placement.

“Virginia Tech has a great story to tell,” said Melanie Schramm, director of marketing in University Relations. “Through measurement and analysis, we can do a better job of making sure that story gets seen more prominently as people search the web.”

While the new design will debut on Aug. 23, Soucy, Schramm, and John Jackson, director of web communications, all point out that the launch does not signify an end to the project.

“It’s very much the start as we begin to test the decisions we’ve made and refine our strategy,” Jackson said. “Good websites constantly develop and evolve. The flexibility of this site design and underlying strategy give us a better ability to do that.”

Video from the Aug. 14 town hall is accessible from the link below. Additional town halls and meetings will be held throughout the fall semester.

Previous town hall videos


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