Swarthmore’s Website to be Redesigned

The Communications and ITS Departments plan to significantly update the Swarthmore website’s homepage by early next year. The website hasn’t been redesigned for about six years and according to Nancy Nicely, Director of Communications, “websites don’t have a long shelf life.” The surveys some students received last month regarding phrases that represent Swat are part of the planning process.

In preparation for the redesign, the Communications Department has been working closely with the web design firm mStoner. The department has also conducted a number of discussions with students, faculty, staff, prospective students, and alumni, both on and off campus. A number of common themes came up in these discussions, which prompted the student survey. According to Nicely, “the survey reflects the distillation of those conversations about the College’s identity.”

The survey presented three different phrases related to the college — “awake,” “practice what you think,” and “think out loud” — asking students to give their opinion on these phrases as themes for the website. Contrary to how many students interpreted the survey, though, these phrases were not meant to be new college slogans to be displayed on Swarthmore’s website. Rather, they were meant to be guiding ideas for the website redesign, to be incorporated conceptually during the process. Nicely hopes that this will help to give the new website a “sense of place,” which she feels the current version lacks.

The website redesign is slated to launch in late 2011 or early 2012. In addition to changes to the homepage, the redesign will also update some subpages and will include some new elements of social networking and multimedia.

The Communications Department will have a summary of the survey results within the next few weeks, and will begin heavy work on the redesign project this summer. The department will also be sharing some preliminary sketches of the website changes later this spring to give the community a chance to weigh in on the process.

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