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New College Website A HIt

Luigi DiSisto ’13 Staff Writer

The Volpe Athletic Center expansion, recent headlines, athletic news, and the “pic of the day” are just a few of the new features on the new Merrimack.edu website. Merrimack College first went online back in the year 2000.

Since then, there have been nine website make-overs, with the latest one being released just last month (Aug. 30). With the help of White Whale Web Services, Merrimack has released the most innovative home page it has had in 12 years.

White Whale said the new site will serve the purposes of the school for at least the next five years, or maybe even longer. Due to the last release of the Merrimack.edu home page being rather inconsistent and outdated, it could have done a better job representing the vibrant community here at Merrimack to prospective students. This triggered the creation of the Merrimack Website Redesign Committee.

The new committee as well as Stacie Bowman who is employed as a webmaster at the school, Michael Walton who graduated with his computer science degree in 2012, and the staff at White Whale, were able to complete the makeover project on a very short timeline.

The project as a whole wasn’t a simple one. It consisted of two phases that took about a year and a half to complete. Keep in mind that when you click on a link on Merrimack.edu, it takes you to what is technically considered to be a different site.

This redesign project needed to not only change the Merrimack.edu home page, but also the thousands of other sites that branch off it. The first phase of the website redesign began when Merrimack originally partnered with White Whale Web Services back in July 2011.

The goal of Phase One of the project included many new and general updates and upgrades, however the most important goal was to put the entire Merrimack.edu website (including the thousands of pages that branch off it), onto one consistent template. This would set the stage perfectly for Phase Two of the project, which would be to update the new common template. After the first stage of the project was completed, the second stage (and the entire new site) was wrapped up just last month.

In addition to the typical options (Admissions, Academics, Athletics, etc.), Merrimack.edu has a few other features which set it apart from other college websites. On the bottom right of the page, there is a large box with six tabs to choose from. You can choose to view the default top stories, look at a calendar of upcoming events, and check out links to connect to up to eight Merrimack departments on Facebook.

There is also an option to follow up to five Merrimack departments on Twitter; a live Twitter feed right on the Merrimack.edu home page, a YouTube section with different Merrimack YouTube channels as well as a “Welcome to Merrimack” video and finally, a map of Merrimack College including directions to events happening on campus. Also included on the new website are options for undergraduate, graduate, and professional study students.

There are links to The Rogers Center for the Arts, employment opportunities at the school, a “pic of the day” and so much more; and that’s just on the home page. Even when there is an error on the site, a message will come up saying “A 404 error has brought you into the labyrinth. Stay awhile. Meditate. Find your way back home,” right above a picture of the labyrinth outside of Austin Hall. A

ll of these small details really go to show how much work went into producing this website. Merrimack now has an updated home page and website to represent the school, and with it, the college will level the playing field when prospective students decide to check out their potential future schools online.

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