Aiming to boost mobile users and make recruiting easier, Murray State plans to relaunch its website later this fall.
Charley Allen-Dunn, Head of Web and Digital Advertising for Branding, Marketing and Communications, is the leader of this project. Dunn said the website hasn’t been redesigned since 2015. The old website was responsive, but not very mobile-friendly. She said the new website was designed with mobile devices in mind first, which should create a more mobile-friendly website.
The new website is also designed to help with recruiting.
âThe Murray State University website is a crucial marketing tool,â Dunn said. âThe new design must promote the competitive advantages of the University, be true to the mission of the University and maintain the integrity of the brand.
The website will improve recruiting by ranking Murray State web pages higher in browser searches. Dunn said that 55% of Murray State’s website traffic currently comes from organic searches, which means Murray State’s website is showing up in search results. By placing the website in more searches, the staff hope to increase the number of people who see the website through organic search.
Dunn said they are also trying to make sure the website language matches the Murray State environment, which means making the website more user-friendly and conversational.
Dunn said the new website will also meet the standards of the American with Disabilities Act, which establishes legal guidelines for web content accessibility that higher education institutions must follow. The aim is to make the content and information on the website accessible to all users.
âWe want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to be compliant because of the legal issues, but also because it’s the right thing to do,â Dunn said.
Dunn said that at the start of the project, they interviewed website users. Although people viewed the website positively, they all reported a lack of organization and outdated content.
Dunn said as part of the new project they will audit all pages on the website and remove outdated or irrelevant content. They have over 5,000 pages on the site to sort in addition to all the PDF files on the server. They will also train content managers on how to manage and review content more regularly.
Dunn said that in the future staff will check content at least once a year to remove unused content. They will also incorporate the importance of keeping the content up to date in their training on the content management system.
Dunn said the new website will be cleaner and incorporate more of Murray State’s colors. The top navigation is also designed to take up less space. Dunn said they have more tools to manage content and allow for better integration of photos, videos and testimonials.
Murray State staff worked with Beacon Technologies, a higher education digital marketing firm, on the website.
Dunn said that during the first phase of the project, Beacon Technologies developed a strategic plan based on user feedback and quantitative data. Dunn worked with Emily White, former Murray State design specialist, on how they wanted the content to look while the staff at Beacon Technologies took care of the actual coding.
âOur staff, myself and Emily White, provided much of the inspiration for the look of the new site while Beacon ensured that all code followed best practices and web accessibility guidelines, âsaid Dunn.
This website relaunch will affect almost everyone on campus. A few students gave their opinion on the upcoming changes.
Psychology student Leah Harley said she thinks the current website is easy to navigate on her computer and the website looks good. She also said it would be nice to have easier access to the website on mobile devices.
âI know I’m a student and everything, but even I am not on my laptop 24/7,â Harley said. âSo pulling something on my phone would be a lot easier. “
Harley said the mobile-friendly website will be especially nice in meetings where she doesn’t use her laptop, but still has to use the website to search for information.
Hannah Dubois, a junior professional writing student, said she thought it was exciting that Murray State was updating their website. She said the mobile-friendly website will definitely come in handy when parents need to make parking reservations and for people who want to find news.
âOne thing I would like Murray to do is update his myGate site, especially because as students we browse this site more often than the website,â Dubois said. . âAnd given all the resources Murray has in the graphic design department and especially the seniors looking for senior projects and opportunities, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t use them to update the myGate site. But I’m glad they start at least with the main site.
Dunn said redesigns are inevitable. Technological changes and best practices require updates to provide users with the expected experience.
âOur last redesign was launched in 2015, which was state of the art back then is not good enough now,â said Dunn.
Dunn said a lot of work has already been done on updating the website, but more needs to be done. There is no specific launch date for the new site yet. Dunn said she thought it would be before winter break.
The website domain name will remain murraystate.edu.