Students and staff guide Zone 5 Web site design

Plans for Geneseo's new Web site are underway with feedback from the campus community proving to be a vital resource in the decision making process.

Paul Fahey from the marketing company Zone 5 presented three possible designs for the new site at a town hall-style meeting on April 9. The designs were created following extensive research, with students, prospective students, parents, alumni, and faculty and staff sharing their expectations of the Geneseo Web site.

Varying responses from each demographic made the home page a challenge. According to Fahey, faculty and staff prefer a page that is easy to use and update. Prospective students want to immediately be engaged and feel something about the college, whereas parents seek quick information with minimal distractions.

"We have a very narrow window to capture their attention," said Fahey.

Possible engagement tactics include student-generated videos, user-generated photos, blogs, instant messaging with Admissions staff and an extension of the site onto social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

"The idea is not just to end at the four walls of the Web site," said Fahey. "We want a seamless integration with places they visit off the Geneseo site."

The first design presented emphasizes the academic atmosphere and prestige of Geneseo, whereas the other two have a greater focus on campus life with "A Day at Geneseo" photo boxes on the main screen. All three designs involve a home page with an easy navigation system, up to date news and a campus life feature composed of either a video or a student's story. Other features include fast facts, a virtual tour and opinion polls.

"The key is to anticipate needs and hit them head on," said Fahey.

Issues raised at the meeting included the need for the school colors on the site, the regulation of comments and user-generated material and the size of the home page graphics.

Sessions held later last Thursday afternoon aimed to receive feedback from current students about the designs.

According to Fahey, the firm is on schedule to begin programming this summer and should be launching the new site in phases at the beginning of the fall 2009 semester.