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Released July 30, 2003

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI LAUNCHES
NEW STREAMLINED WEB SITE AUG. 1

HATTIESBURG - Corraling thousands of pages of information about The University of Southern Mississippi's more than 200 degree programs, classes and services offered at six locations, and a myriad of campus organizations, centers and institutes is no small task. But prospective students, alumni and others seeking information online about programs, events and services at Southern Miss can do so easier and faster beginning Aug. 1, thanks to the university's launch of a newly redesigned Web site.

Located at www.usm.edu, the university's online presence will now be more streamlined, cohesive and user-friendly.

"As a nationally respected institution of higher learning, it is critical that The University of Southern Mississippi's Web site be up to date, easy to navigate and user-friendly. With this redesign, we will be accomplishing each of those points," said Southern Miss' director of marketing and public relations, Lisa S. Mader.

In the works for nearly five months, the mammoth redesign project was long overdue on a site that had become difficult to navigate and overall lacked a cohesive structure, said Mader.

Among the new features on the site:

" Several front page images are incorporated into a slide show, with links to corresponding current news and events.

" The major areas of the site, including colleges, admissions, and registrar, have a more consistent look and streamlined content.

" Information about Southern Miss' teaching sites and campuses is more accessible.

" New links with information on research/economic development and business and industry have been added.

" A better system of navigation is within the site so that the home page is always accessible with one mouse click.

The splash page now offers more information selections in a more logical way, according to Valerie Craig, iTech training specialist and Web project coordinator. For example, main links on the front page go to information about academics, administration, student information, news, arts, athletics, contacts, faculty/staff, alumni/friends, business/industry, campus/teaching sites, and research/economic development. Additional links to libraries, a publications events calendar, bookstore and other items are available at the bottom of the page.

The new design and content will go a long way toward satisfying constituents' expectations and management of the university's online presence, said Jenny Watson, Web developer for the Department of Marketing and Public Relations. "Prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and other visitors have ever-growing expectations for our Web site's appearance, speed, comprehensiveness, accuracy, and ease of use. A poorly managed Web site - one with incomplete, hard-to-find, inaccurate, or out-of-date information - could be a serious liability for our institution."

In March, the Department of Marketing and Public Relations and iTech (formerly OTR) initiated the redesign task. Nearly every department and organization on campus has been involved in the project, but it has most affected the administrative and academic departments, said Craig. She, along with the iTech team of designers, created templates for the main pages as well as sites for various customers on campus.

There are, however, some areas of the site that remain unaffected by the changes. Personal faculty, staff and student pages housed on the Ocean server will not be subject to review and will remain untouched and viewable at the same URLs where they currently exist.

Now that the big step of redesign is complete, said Craig, the next necessary step is constant maintenance and upkeep. There also will be continuing work on bringing student organizational pages into compliance with the university guidelines.

"I think the user will be pleased when they come to the site now," said Craig.

When the conversion took place, only sites that have completed the redesign process will be accessible through www.usm.edu, and all other sites will not be viewable. iTech will keep old files until Oct. 1, 2003, which will still allow areas to access their old content for the redesign.

Guidelines about each step of the process are online at http://www.usm.edu/webredesign.

For technical questions, questions regarding application for a space on the new server, or to discuss the Web Team design assistance options available through iTech, contact Craig at 266-5010.

Other assistance is also available through staff members at the Center for Education and Learning Technology at 266-6958.

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This page is maintained by the Department of Marketing and Public Relations at
The University of Southern Mississippi at
http://www.usm.edu.

Comments and suggestions are welcome; direct them to usm_mpr@usm.edu.
URL for this page is http://www.usm.edu/pr/prnews
/jul03/newwebdesign.htm
August 18, 2003 5:01 PM

AA/EOE/ADAI