Feb. 19, 2002
The Untangled Web
GW Set to Debut an Enhanced Internet Site
A new front door to more than
200,000 GW Web pages will be unveiled in the coming weeks, as www.gwu.edu
shines with a new design that incorporates the Universitys new
identity system, more space for content, and a bold look strikingly
different than the current site.
Users will notice the large
panoramic pictures, current news headlines, ease of navigation, and
a Google search engine as some of the significant and simple changes,
says Francesco de Leo, manager of GWs Interactive Multimedia Applications
Group (IMAG). IMAG is charged with designing and maintaining the GW
main Web site. Beyond the look of the site, links have been reorganized
with descriptions to give the GW community and visitors more logical
ways to find information.
I hope there will be
greater awareness of the news and events that are happening at the University
as a result of more space for content, de Leo says. Right
now, we are boxed in with the current Web site (which was launched in
1999). We realize that the way people navigate the Web has changed;
the new design allows more flexibility.
Redesigning and reorganizing
the site presents a comprehensive undertaking by GWs Information
Systems and Services (ISS) and its multimedia design group, IMAG. Initially
working with the Web Advisory Committee, IMAG sought input for a new
site in February 2001. De Leo says a new site was ready to go live in
June 2001, but the impending identity system needed to be incorporated
into all University publications, including Web sites.
It makes perfect sense
to roll out the new image with the new Web site at the same time,
de Leo says. A reception is scheduled for Friday at the Media and Public
Affairs Building to officially unveil the identity system.
In recent months, IMAG opened discussions beyond the Web Advisory Committee
and talked with the content owners for each section of the main page.
Meeting with representatives from the libraries, alumni relations, and
the Office of University Relations, among the many other stakeholders,
IMAG gathered information it needed to present the pages in a new way.
Part of the responsibilities for the stakeholders includes using the
GWeb Portal (gweb.gwu.edu) to post
news and calendar events.
As one of the last steps before
the final rollout, IMAG presented the site to Michael Freedman, vice
president for communications, whose office will make most of the final
content decisions about the main GW Web page.
I think the new GW Web
presence is a project that shows the existing cooperation between the
vice president for communications and chief information officer, and
also between the Office of University Relations and ISS, says
David Swartz, ISS chief information officer. Our mutual goals
are to create the best Web site we can for GW: a site that provides
easy access to GW information, is attractive and conforms to the new
GW visual image, and is kept current.
IMAG worked with Bethesda-based
Concept Foundry and GW Graphic Design on adapting the new graphic identity
to the Web site (Concept Foundry helped design the new identity system
for the University). Collaborating with GW Graphic Design to implement
the Web standards that will become the criterion for all GW users, IMAG
has fine-tuned the main site to conform to the norms. IMAG has developed
templates that reflect the primary design of the new Web site so departments
and organizations can maintain a consistent image.
The identity system has
been designed to be flexible and will be adapted to the idiosyncrasies
of the Web, says Kelly Livezey, director of GW Graphic Design.
For example, I expect a greater use of the full-color portrait
mark on the Web since there is no extra expense associated with additional
color as there is in print .
Livezey says GW Graphic Design
will maintain the University standards manual on its Web site (www.graphics.gwu.edu)
and will provide basic guidelines and links to Web standards maintained
With our current resources,
we are simply not able to work one-on-one with all of the Web page owners
to get them to update the content, which is why the standards manual
and template become more important, says Robyn East, executive
director for ISS Administrative Applications, who manages de Leos
group. She says that IMAG, as part of a new quality assurance program,
developed a resource guide with templates, logos, pictures, and Web
design tips located at www.gwu.edu/~rcenter.
As an information provider,
you may want to use these resources on your Web site to meet the standards,
de Leo says. Taking images from other sites causes confusion.
Images arent optimized for the Web. Thats why we provide
best practices and guidelines.
Finding GW Web pages will be
an easier task now with the addition of a comprehensive Google search
engine, arguably one of the best and most accurate in the market, that
looks for not only HTML documents, but portable document files (PDFs)
and Microsoft Word documents.
With all of these changes,
however, one adage continues to ring true: content is king. Swartz,
East, and de Leo reiterate that departments need to work together so
the most accurate and timely information resides on the 200,000-page
There is still much work
to do at GW to drive this level of quality across all of the Web pages
maintained by departments at GW, Swartz says. We invite
all departments at GW to join us in this effort to improve the GW Web
Livezey says for certain audiences,
she expects the Web is GWs most-read publication. Diligence and
persistence are required to update pages with information and to present
consistently designed Web sites.
Im sure the Web
is many peoples first exposure to GW, whether through the home
page or a department or program page, Livezey says. Certainly
it is a critical component of the identity system, and it should be
consistent with other applications and within its own realm.
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