The university website may soon undergo some changes to give it a more professional and uniform design.
According to Florida A&M University’s Web Master Raymond Lanier, it is a “desperately needed” change. The web masters have not yet met with Interim President, Castell V. Bryant about the new design, but they hope to change the site soon.
The current FAMU website is plagued by different designs and outdated information.
However, the employees working in the Information Technology Systems department are striving to eliminate these problems.
“We’re making the site look more consistent,” Lanier said. “Everything is all over the board right now; you can’t even tell if you’re on the same site.”
Featured on the website will be a choice of five templates for each department or school to choose from to customize their webpage. Lanier said it gives the webpage manager a choice in design while maintaining the overall uniformity of the website
Officials say with a few more changes, the updated website could be accessible as early as January 2006.
Jeffrey Ross, FAMU alumnus and assistant web master, cited a number of current problems including the fact that there is no way for each department to routinely update information.
“We’re eliminating all out-dated information,” Ross said. “We’re focusing on making it a site that can be current and easily updated, while maintaining the functionality of the website.”
Content Management System, the computer program that lets each department input and change the information on their page, works exactly like Microsoft Word.
Ross said, “This allows every department to be responsible for maintaining their web page.”
Every department and school will have the responsibility of selecting someone to maintain their webpage, ensuring that all of the information is up-to-date and accurate.
Currently, no changes to department content can be made within the department. All updates, changes and new information must be given to ITS for them to input the information.
Ross emphasized that a website should be professional and easy to navigate. For potential students who live in other states who can’t personally tour the campus, the website is their only view of the university.
“A website is very important,” Ross said. “You not only have to consider the students that go here but the students that don’t. It’s a direct representation of us.”
In addition to using Content Management System, the website will also be making use of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, a program that allows students and faculty to update their information.
Jerrold Gibson, the coordinator of computer systems, said, “The new website will have real time info. If one person changes something, it’s consistent throughout the whole site.”
According to Lanier, the current site is not only in need of aesthetic changes, but it also does not meet ADA requirements. This means that people with disabilities have trouble reading the site.
“The site should be accessible for anyone no matter what their disability is,” Lanier said. “You have to make a site that’s ADA approved.”
Lanier said that the new site will not only be ADA approved, but will also boast some new features. He said ideas for the new design will allow students to customize their homepage and increase their participation in the website by offering a forum. Plans for students to buy event tickets over the web are also in the works.
Lanier said the hardest part right now is gathering information from the various schools and departments. Lanier asked, “What good is a website if you don’t have information?”
Although it’s been hard work, Lanier credited the smooth transition to his ITS staff and also the fact that many of them are FAMU alumni. “He’s (Ross) a product of this university,” Lanier said, “…and he’s going to have pride in what he’s doing.”
Lanier said, “What we’re doing is cutting edge and it’s going to be something every school will want to emulate.”
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