ByGeorge! Online

Feb. 19, 2002

The Untangled Web

GW Set to Debut an Enhanced Internet Site

By Greg Licamele

A new front door to more than 200,000 GW Web pages will be unveiled in the coming weeks, as shines with a new design that incorporates the University’s 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 GW’s 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 GW’s 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 ( 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 ( and will provide basic guidelines and links to Web standards maintained by IMAG.

“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 Leo’s 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

“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 aren’t optimized for the Web. That’s 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 Web site.

“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 presence.”

Livezey says for certain audiences, she expects the Web is GW’s most-read publication. Diligence and persistence are required to update pages with information and to present consistently designed Web sites.

“I’m sure the Web is many people’s 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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