by Kathleen Scalise
The launch of a new campus home page this week puts a fresh face on Berkeley's vast web site, which draws nearly 40,000 visitors daily.
The redesign features ease of navigation, colorful graphics and frequently updated news reports. A search window on the opening page and quick access buttons to high traffic sites are two useful additions.
"We have an ambitious goal of attracting a wide audience with a single home page," said Associate Chancellor James A. Hyatt, who chairs the campus web steering committee. "While the committee's opinions on design and navigation varied depending on our various perspectives as users, we felt satisfied that this is a good, first step towards a more attractive and user-friendly site."
Karla Coronado, student representative to the campus web steering team and an undergraduate double major in history and the political economy of industrial societies, said the new page is a big improvement from the student perspective.
"The organization and structure is a lot more intuitive, therefore easy to use," she said.
Coronado, a frequent web surfer, is delighted the redesign reflects a campus commitment to providing information online.
"I think the campus home page is incredibly useful to students," she said. "The resources available are amazing. Students can obtain information about nearly every issue relevant to them, such as financial aid, registration requirements and job listings, both while in school and in a professional environment."
Designed by the Office of Public Affairs with technical implementation by Information Systems and Technology, the new page is available at the usual home page address, http://www.berkeley.edu.
"It's now much more of a living, breathing document," said Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Linda Weimer. "We intend to keep refreshing it and changing it and we want constant audience feedback. We invite the whole campus to participate."
Public Affairs is recruiting volunteers to serve on focus groups for the new page. Comments and focus group nominations should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The focus groups will evaluate how well the page works for a variety of needs and audiences so that designers can modify the page accordingly.
However, Public Affairs web manager Carol Tady hastens to assure nervous surfers that their favorite resources will not move around on them. "All the things that people want to reach will be stable," she said. "Categories won't be moving around and the basic structure will not change haphazardly."
Ann Dobson, IST's manager of network resources directing implementation for the new page, said clients can expect further technical innovations down the line, including improved search capabilities. Already the page is running on the new more powerful Amber web server recently acquired by the campus.
Future revisions to the page as well as other online issues will continue to go through the campus web steering committee. Complete details on committee workings can be found online at http://campus.chance.berkeley.edu/wwwsteer/wwwsteer.html.