NCU develops two new websites

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NCU develops  two new websites

Both sites to launch February 29

Website comparison

After over a year of planning and development, North Central’s new website will launch at midnight Feb. 29.

The new website is much more than a simple redesign. The content of northcentral.edu (main website) has changed so much that a separate intranet website, skyline.northcentral.edu (Skyline), has been developed.

Building two new websites is not an easy task. The project has been a collaboration with mStoner, a web design firm based in Chicago; Jettison, a web design firm based in Minneapolis and owned by North Central alum Luke Frederich; communication consultants Eric Gruber and Kelsey Lundborg; and North Central’s marketing, communications and information technology departments.

During the process of designing the website, much has changed with the departments involved. The former director of marketing, Mark Erickson, left. A new communications department was created and all of those currently working on the project were not at North Central when the project was started.

“We have all inherited a project began by other people…all of the owners were not at the table anymore.” said Aimee Robertson, the administrator of university relations who is overseeing the final stages of the development of the main website.

With all that has changed, one would expect the development of the websites to be troublesome, but that has not been the case. Robertson said that the people involved have brought their skills to the table and the project has gone well.

“Fortunately, all of these new faces that we have been bringing on are incredibly knowledgeable people who have worked at other institutions of higher education, and a lot of whom have been through situations like this before,” Robertson said.

The decision to develop two different websites may be confusing for some. In a memo sent to staff and faculty, the website and skyline team said that the primary focus of a college website should be recruiting. “… it is a vital investment for our institution to make sure our site is a fantastic experience for future students,” the memo said.

By having two different websites, the main website can optimally function for its purpose.

In an email, Bethany Harshbarger, the director of admissions, said that the admissions department and enrollment team “could not be more excited” for the launch of the new websites.

“We find that more and more students are making decisions based on the information at their fingertips via college websites,” said Harshbarger.

The main website has been built from the ground up with prospective students in mind. Michael White, the former vice president of university relations, and Mark Erickson worked with mStoner to build it.

According to the memo sent to staff and faculty, the main website will have an “updated, vibrant look with strong imagery of our wonderful city location and North Central people,” and will be a “friendly site for others who visit us via the web.”

One major aspect of the main website will be its responsive design which will shift the layout of its content depending on the size of the screen it is accessed on. “So many students are using their phones or an iPad to research NCU and even fill out an application,” Harschbarger said in an email. “The new site will allow them to navigate more easily than our current site.” Skyline was designed to give current North Central students easier access to the content they need.

“Skyline’s content will initially be our old content in a new house,” the staff and faculty memo said.

The decision to create a separate intranet was made approximately three months ago. After the decision was made, the website and skyline team secured the services of Jettison to build it. After the launch, the Skyline team will evaluate to see if updates are required. If updates are needed, plans will be made to do so.

Students will have to wait a little longer before they can see what the new websites will look like. But students should not worry. “Seeing the website itself … it is beautiful. It is something that we can be proud of, so I am excited,” Robertson said. Students with questions regarding the new websites are encouraged to email internalrelations@northcentral.edu.