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FGCU’s website to be redesigned

After several years, FGCU’s website is getting a makeover.
Armed with a design team composed of faculty, staff and a student, Chris Simoneau, the FGCU Foundation executive director, is ready to update FGCU’s online presence.
“We have a website redesign team co-chaired of Deborah Wiltrout and David Jaeger,” Simoneau said. “We put together a team of about 13 or 15 people who are working together to do the website design.”
The team was created based on two principles — inclusion and representation, said Jeffrey Garner, the director of Digital Communication.
“The FGCU site touches all areas of the university and impacts many types of users, so we have representatives from across campus on the committee,” Garner said. “This allows us to have input and feedback at all stages of the redesign, from concept to development and throughout rollout.”
The website has been active for over 18 years since before the first day of classes began on Aug. 25, 1997. Parts of the current design were introduced to the web in 2009, with other aspects that were introduced in 2015.
Garner said that the site’s current design isn’t mobile friendly, and its navigation needs improvement.
“We have sent out a request for proposals to a bunch of website redesign firms to help serve as consultants and help with the redesign,” Simoneau said. “We chose a contractor to work with the committee and redesign team to implement the changes.”
Starting in fall 2015, the team discussed how to get input and feedback from the redesign firms. An Intent to Negotiate document was released on Jan. 15. It outlined the project’s requirements.
Responses from contacted vendors are due on Mar.14.
“Once a vendor is selected, the development will begin and remain a top priority through completion,” Garner said.
Amanda Putnik, the sole student on the redesign team, joined after a member of Student Government reached out to her informing her of the open position and has served as the student representative since September 2015.
“I play a contributing role in the process to bring the student perspective to the committee and the changes being made,” Putnik said. “In recent years, we have experienced more attention as the university grows by prospective students, faculty and the community. As a university, we want our website to represent who we are and what we stand for.”
The site’s new design is slated to go online by the end of 2016.
“Due to the size of the site, we will roll out specific sections as a phased approach,” Garner said. “The schedule calls for all top-level sections that receive the most traffic to be online by the end of 2016.”
Simoneau believes that having a strong presence online is vital to the university’s success, both for current and incoming students.
“The website is the front door of the university,” Simoneau said. “It’s how prospective students get to know us. In this day and age, having a strong digital presence is absolutely essential.”
In addition to updating the layout, Simoneau said that the design team is also working on incorporating unique aspects into the site, like integrating their social media accounts within the website.
“We’re exploring those things,” Simoneau said. “You’ll probably see a greater integration with the website and social media. In the future, our home page will be more integrated with our social media presence.”

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