Geneseo Web site under major renovation

In order to make Geneseo's main Web site more accessible and user-friendly, it will be receiving a long-overdue upgrade to be completed sometime next fall.

Zone5, a marketing firm based in Albany, held an on-campus meeting Tuesday to relate their research findings and discuss ways in which they would like to update the site. The firm, which specializes in higher education, has previously beeninvolved in designing Web sites, brochures and multimedia advertising forother colleges.

A presentation by Paul Fahey, director of marking strategy for Zone5, outlined the initial steps of their plan. The Web site is "essentially a marketing tool," Fahey said. The challenge is addressing the "needs and wants of all groups."

This specifically includes alumni, who Fahey hopes will be able to use the new Web site not only to remain connected to current events at Geneseo, but also to stay in touch with each other.

The Web page will not be a template format, but instead completely custom designed. "Departments need to have a sense that they are a part of the institution but also that they have their own identity," said Fahey.

Zone5 is also considering the design implications that would be involved to make the site user-friendly for mobile devices such as iPhones. Current ideas include an RSS news feed as well as direct links to personal updates, such as Twitter accounts and e-mail.

Additionally, the firm hopes to give the Web site a more personal feel. "We assume students want to see their own content," said Fahey, suggesting for instance the ability to upload pictures from campus events.

Christine Scott, a Geneseo alumna and senior account executive for Zone5, said she would like to hear more feedback from students. The firm has already conducted extensive research, including a comparison of Geneseo's site to those of competitor schools including Cornell, Colgate and Hamilton College. About 75 people have thus far participated in research.

Students also recognize that an upgrade is long overdue and feel that the current site lacks organization and ease of accessibility. "I wish it was easier to find events calendars online," said sophomore Daina Bouquin. "They are all separated."

Junior Meaghan Elicks said she found it frustrating when she was researching potential colleges and "had to search in the little box" to find information, only to be bombarded with disorganized results.

"There are way too many categories and subcategories making it really hard to find things," said freshman Jennifer Luders.

According to Zone5's examination, the Web site also lacks a broader aesthetic appeal in areas outside of academics, especially athletics. In comparison to athletic Web sites from other colleges, especially Division I schools, Geneseo's is very disorganized.

The last major update to the Geneseo Web site occurred in 2001. A link on the main Geneseo homepage goes directly to a blog where students can continue to give their input.

Zone5 plans to hold additional focus groups on campus sometime in April.