Members of the University community aren't just going to have to update their wardrobes in order to accommodate the rollout of the new Penn logo in the fall.
They're also going to have to get used to the fact that as of August 31, when they type "www.upenn.edu" into their web search browser, the familiar blue background with Ben Franklin's profile peeking through isn't going to pop up.
The administration's recent decision to redesign Penn's logo have been coupled by efforts to bring a new face to the University's homepage, which hasn't undergone significant revisions since its inception in 1997.
Spearheaded by University Communications Web and Publishing Services manager Deni Kasrel and a web advisory council composed of faculty and staff members, Penn's new Web site is geared toward giving visitors and prospective students a greater sense of what the University of Pennsylvania is all about.
"The old site was cutting-edge when it was developed, but we wanted to keep up with the latest trends and make sure we're on top of things," Kasrel said. "The new site is aimed for someone unfamiliar to Penn to give them a snapshot of what it's like here."
During the initial planning stages, administrators decided that they wanted to develop a homepage that would distinguish Penn from its peer institutions and Penn State University -- an institution which outsiders commonly confuse with the University of Pennsylvania.
According to web steering committee member and anesthesia professor David Smith, achieving this goal entailed pinpointing a series of characteristics that the University embodies.
"In developing our new Web site we started with an evaluation of what we wanted a Web site to do and attempted to develop a visual concept of Penn," Smith said. "In doing so we contacted a cross section of the University leadership and 'stake holders' and attempted to distill their viewpoints into a few common themes."
While it is still being fine-tuned, the new homepage will feature a full-sized snapshot of the campus which will change periodically throughout the year depending on what season it is. And Penn's newly-revealed logo, which features the University shield, will flash up on the screen as well.
Moreover, the site has been designed to display only six main links to what Kasrel calls "second-tier pages" -- or, in simpler terms, websites that are offshoots of the homepage.
"The biggest change is in the site's navigation -- we've scaled down the number of links from the old site from sixteen to six," Kasrel said.
Other changes to the new site will include replacing the AltaVista, the current site's default search engine, to Google, along with maintaining a consistent design template for each of the homepage's links and sublinks.
Due to the fact that the new website's targeted audience is people unaffiliated with the University community, the web advisory council is also in the process of creating a portal site to be used by students.
Set to be launched on October 21, this internal website will provide combined access to Penn-In-Touch, Campus Express and personalized links depending on students' individual preferences.
"PennPortal offers a personalized web experience that brings together information from many campus sources and allows students to manage most transactions from one online location," Executive Director of Data Administration Jeanne Curtis said in a statement.
Although administrators acknowledge the fact that it will take time for the University community to adjust to these changes, most people believe that they are for the better.
"I personally believe that our new homepage will prove more dynamic and interesting than the current one," Smith said. It "will show a fuller 'flavor' of what Penn is without sacrificing functionality."Comments powered by Disqus
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