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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat upgrades Web site format

After a failed launch a few months ago, the UA relaunched the new version of its homepage Monday morning.

“”It wasn’t like March 8 had anything magic about it,”” said Kate Maguire Jensen, assistant vice president of marketing. “”We ended up just having to make a decision based on readiness.””

The new site loads quickly and incorporates features from the old site, including an updated search feature and the original and more complete phonebook. The site went through final changes in early February before a date for the final launch was determined.

The UA’s new homepage still has sections for future and current students, parents and faculty, but there is also a new business and industry section for corporate connections to find out more about the UA. These sections cater their news toward their respective audiences and are one of the biggest changes on the new Web site.

Along with these secitons, changes to the search engine, the Web engine and the programming to go along with those were the biggest changes to the site between launch dates, said Derek Masseth, senior director of infrastructure services for University Information Technology Services. Masseth works on the incident command council charged with fixing issues with the new site.

He noted that the new site had “”dramatically better results”” but that there will still be modifications made if necessary in the coming weeks.

“”We have a lot of expert folks sitting together in a room watching this thing like a hawk for the next few days just to be sure,”” he said. “”But we went live because today was the right day, because all of our ducks were in a row, and we made all the changes we thought we needed to make.””

The new site is aligned with the update to the UAccess student system, which is slated to replace Student Link incrementally through fall 2010.

The site’s launch met originally projected costs. Its design, by Archetype 5, an outside constractor, cost $116,000, with $30,000 more spent on additional hardware for new servers and smaller additional software needs.

Other features include news updates changed daily and larger stories updated monthly, which are important “”so people know what kind of opportunities our students have here,”” according to Jensen.

Patti Van Leer, a UA marketing specialist at the Office of Student Computing Resources, noted that earlier February dates had been tentatively pushed back in order to ensure that this time, the site would be able to go up and stay up.

“”We were as confident as we were going to be about (the site),”” Van Leer said.

She also noted that University Information Technology Services chose Monday for its launch because, after the weekend, the Web site usually incurs a high number of users, the perfect setting for testing.

Jensen noticed that only a few hours after the launch of the new site, there had been positive feedback.

“”People around campus that know we’ve been struggling with it have just been saying ‘Aren’t you glad?’ and ‘Good job,'”” Jensen said.

Jensen noted students should like the faster, more user-friendly Web site but says it will be somewhat of an adjustment.

“”(Students) are going to have to get used to it again,”” she said. “”You know, when you are used to a site, it takes a little time to relearn where some of those key links are.””

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