Bowdoin's new Web gateway offers speed, glamour
In a joint effort by the Communications and Public Affairs Office, Computer
and Information Services, the Educational Technology Services, the Library,
Student Affairs, the Web Management Group, and the Web Working Group,
the Bowdoin website (www.bowdoin.edu)
underwent a complete overhaul.
"This is a project that has been in the works since the summer of
1998," stated Scott Hood, the Associate Vice President and Director
of Communications and Public Affairs. "We wanted to build a site
that would lay the groundwork for future development."
In addition to a brand new design, the site includes the use of plug-ins
(such as Flash), an improved search function from the last website, and
faster loading times. The new site also incorporates a more user-friendly
interface than the previous one. Each page can also accommodate more text
The original Bowdoin website was designed in 1997. On that website, text,
data, and graphics were combined together, making it very difficult for
web designers to change something easily. This proved especially difficult
for faculty and offices who wanted to put up their own website within
the Bowdoin site.
"People wanted more room for material," said Hood. "The
old site didn't allow for much text to be put on the site, but the pages
on this site are much bigger."
The previous site had other problems, too. In December of 2000, students
performed 'usability tests' on the Bowdoin site, in which computer response
rates were timed while the students looked for specific links and information.
The test found that the original Bowdoin website was among the slowest
loading of all college and university sites reviewed. Complaints were
also received concerning the organization of the site.
In response, the site was designed to not only load quicker, but also
to be more easily navigable.
Campus information booklets aimed primarily for prospective first-year
students have also been redesigned in the same ways as the website.
"The old website had no identity. The new design has a major consistency
to always allow people to know that they're still on a Bowdoin website,"
said Hood. He believes that it is this strong identity that can help to
attract prospective students to Bowdoin. Hood goes on to say, "All
of the college websites I've been to have buildings and foliage and these
bucolic landscapes. To a prospective student used to all of that, Massachusetts
Hall isn't going to be very interesting."
Not everyone is impressed with the new website, however.
Adam Ureneck '04 stated, "To me, the Bowdoin home page serves two
purposes-for the students as a directory, and for virtual visitors as
a small glimpse at the school. As a student, the page is harder to use,
and a bit frilly. I'm already here, though. So I don't need to be wooed.
For those not at Bowdoin, I can see how the page would be impressive."
The site, however, is not finished yet. Features to be added soon are
an online campus tour and a 'gateway' feature, which would allow easy
navigation to home pages for specific audiences, such as alumni, students,
faculty, and parents.