About Macon State
By Bill Weaver
When Macon State launched its new website at the end of January, not only did the College put a fresh face on its Internet site, it also dramatically changed the way the website is produced.
The College has plans to go even further with the launch of a personal, customizable “portal” for students, faculty and staff.
MSC’s website was due for a makeover, as its design had not been changed for several years. The heavy lifting for the redesign was done by the staff of Macon State’s Technology Resources Department, including Geoff Dyer, Brandon Hill, Jennifer Lewis and Travis Lightsey. Working from a design provided by a national consultant, they wrote most of the computer code that produces the design and functionality of the new website. When the page design had been completed the College implemented a new method of putting words and photos on the pages.
In the old website, virtually all changes had to flow through one technology wizard who knew how to change the pages. While that relatively common practice had the benefit of maintaining consistency, it also created a workflow bottleneck that impeded the ability of people on campus to update their webpages when they wanted. To solve that problem, the College has deployed a new “content management system” that permits up to 50 users around the campus to update their webpages anytime they want. Now, virtually all content changes can be made at any time by the people who know the content best. The result is a new, fresh-looking website that’s more current and much easier to change.
But that’s not the only change being made. Planning already has begun on what will be another dramatic improvement to the website. It’s called a “portal,” and it will permit anyone with a College email address to customize the kind of content they get from the website. While the public website is available to anyone with access to the Internet, the “portal” will be a private intranet available only to students, staff or faculty of the College.
The portal will carry significant benefits for each group of users. For instance, students will have easier access to grades, classes, other students, instructors, email and information from the College. They’ll also be able to add their own kind of content to their webpages, such as national news, entertainment, games, research and other Internet content of interest only to them. Combined with a scheduled upgrade to BannerWeb – the student information system – the result is going to be a new, fresh, customizable gateway into a private intranet area where students, faculty and staff can more easily communicate with each other, where the College can better communicate with specific types of students, and where faculty can more easily communicate with students about coursework. Launch of the portal is tentatively set for spring semester 2007.
All of these improvements take modern equipment and technical expertise to pull off. Macon State is fortunate to have both.