By Ryan Boyd
On Jan. 6, St. Michael’s College launched its newly designed webpage that had been in the works for over a year. Since its launch the new design has aimed to be more user friendly but technical complications have put a few bumps in the path.
“When it comes to marketing to prospective students, our website is one of our largest materials,” said Lauren Read, St. Michael’s Website Content Strategist.
The change is noticeable, and the audience is clear. The new design heavily caters towards prospective students and recruiting new students to come to St. Michael’s according to Read. On the main page of the website, the first link on the top left toolbar is “prospective students” and the first links on the top right are “apply” and “visit.” Another notable recruitment tactic on the front page of the website was displaying the St. Michael’s College Virtual Tour in a very noticeable manner nearly taking up an entire screen.
When students returned to campus on Jan. 13, the marketing department started to receive reports of issues with the new website such as links not functioning properly and pages not being able to be found on the site. Read said she and her team went about figuring out what went wrong. “We have two servers on campus, an internal server that serves people on campus and then an external server that serves people off campus.” she explained. “Something went a little funky that we hadn’t foreseen with the internal server.” Once the problem had been identified, she said, Marketing and IT were able to implement a permanent solution to these issues. There are currently no more problems with the new site that the marketing department is aware of. “The conversation is now what can people do with the new website as opposed to just what it looks like,” said Read.
Since the beginning of the redesign process, the marketing team wanted to make the site more user friendly and compatible with mobile devices, something that the old site lacked, Read said. The design process led by Read, consisted of 10-15 employees contributing. She pointed out that on the old site it was exceedingly hard to find things because it had so many different layers of navigation. “We really wanted to make sure that it was mobile friendly and that it was much easier to navigate.” Read said.
student reaction to the new website is mixed, Maddi Sousa ‘21 said that a friend of hers had trouble obtaining a copy of her transcripts for transfer applications because of faulty links in the new school website. Sousa said although the new site looks more updated she is unsure if the website and overall new branding will be enough to win over prospective students. “Some of the stuff isn’t that important that they think is pressing. In the mailroom I see a lot of the mail going out and when I was a senior in high school, I wouldn’t even look at the mail.” Sousa said.
Other students support the new site. “The new marketing efforts give me more pride when I say that I go to St. Mike’s.” said Noah Robinson ‘21. “In the last year, the marketing department has really stepped up its game and it seems like they are trying more than before,. St. Mike’s should put more money into their marketing because St. Mike’s is a good school and they need to focus more on getting that out to people.”