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Bethel’s New Header and Footer

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We’re constantly working to improve Bethel’s website. Sometimes we make big changes and sometimes small ones, but every day we show up and work to give our users a better experience.

One of the projects we’ve been working on recently is a new header and footer. We’ve learned a lot about our current navigation from user testing, heat maps, and analytics. So we used that information to make some improvements. Here are a few of the major changes:

Smaller header

One of our goals was to surface our web content higher on the page. This new header is much thinner and doesn’t require an image. This gives us flexibility to present content closer to the top of the page within the more functional areas of Bethel’s website.

Reorganized footer

To shrink the header, we needed to reorganize our navigation, shorten terms, and make more space in our footer. Our expanded footer also allowed us to surface tools and resources most used by our community.

Link to offices

After tracking and analyzing our search logs, we noticed that many repeat visitors are looking for a specific office. Our new header now includes a link for offices right next to our search to give visitors a quick gateway to a directory of Bethel offices.

New search

Along with the navigation updates, we’ve also implemented a new and  improved site search. To amplify the new search, we’ve created shortcuts within the search itself to provide you with a list of frequently used items. Hopefully this gets people to the information they’re looking for much faster.

Our goal is to continually improve the functionality of our site. We hope this improves your experience, and you can look forward to more changes to come.

If you have any questions, free to email us at web-services@bethel.edu.

 

Fall Web Update

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Website Migration Progress

The start of the fall is a crazy busy time for Web Services. We have many projects that we’re kicking off and on top of that it’s our busiest time of year for maintenance and support. With all that’s going on it’s sometimes hard for our community to keep track of where things are. So at the start of a new semester I liked to take the time and update you all.

Academic Website Project

This fall we are switching up our strategy for academic departments and programs. In the past we would kick off 3 departments and work with them until we had their sites complete. With faculties’ crazy busy and ever fluctuating schedules we’ve realized this isn’t as productive as we had hoped. It’s simply taking us too long to get done with these sites. So starting next week we are going to be putting more academic sites in the hopper. We’ll give faculty more time to complete them at their own pace and it should speed up the process for those faculty who have more time to devote to their website. We realize this creates a lot more overhead on our part to keep track of all of the moving parts, but we think the payoff is worth it. If you’re curious as to what’s next, check out our academic progress anytime. Our goals is to have everyone in the queue or finished by the end of spring semester.

Office Websites Project

As with academic departments we are making good progress with our office migration. This fall we will add 3 more to the mix and then be just a handful away from having worked with everyone. We have a number of offices who are using the webkit to help build their sites and this seems to be working well.

HTML Email

This fall we kicked off a long awaited HTML email system that allows us to coordinate the delivery and subscription of all our email. Check out Tim’s launch post to see the details.

Analytics and SEO Efforts

This past year we really ramped up our SEO efforts in order to extend the reach and reputation of Bethel’s online presence. This August was the first time we had year over year date to check our progress. We where shocked at our progress. In August alone we drove over 35,000 new visitors to our site. Thats a 41% increase in visitors and we had even better results in our schools. For example our Graduate school saw a 114% increase in traffic.

All in all we are happy with our progress. Would we like to get more done?… Yes. But we keep plugging along intentionally and with the right priorities and I’m excited to see where we will be next fall.

Why I love Working on the Web

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Most of us know that working on the web is hard. Competing priorities from clients, managing the expectations of people who don’t understand technology, and the increasing rate of change all contribute to it’s challenges. Most days I leave with more to do then I got done, and yet I love it. Why? Here are three reasons:

1. There is always something new. Yesterday I got to work with our friends at Capture Studios, who produced amazing video documenting our new student move-in. Today, I’m creating strategy for our responsive website design and tomorrow…well, who knows?

2. This crazy environment attracts really smart people. I have one of the most talented teams I know of and they’re all really brilliant at what they do. I count it a privilege to work every day with such bright people who are so committed to fulfilling our institution’s mission.

3. What we do is significant. We create things that affect people’s experiences, shape decisions, and even, dare I say, alter history. Most of us don’t think of it that way because when we’re in the daily grind, we just see it as content, graphics, or html. But as a whole, collectively, it’s a system—and a pretty important one at that.

So despite the challenges, today is a good day and I’m glad I work on the web.