New UMBC Homepage
A sneak preview of UMBC's homepage was available 8/30/05 to 9/8/05.

Previous Profiles:

A New Look for UMBC's Homepage

Update: Stepping Back and Looking Forward

Okay, we heard you, and here are ways you said the new UMBC homepage and website could be improved:

  • Launch both together;
  • Improve design to reflect UMBC's energy and quality;
  • Use more campus photos, similar to the new About UMBC;
  • Make myUMBC a more prominent homepage link;
  • Consider vertical scrolling layout;
  • Study peers and competitors;
  • Tighten programming to adhere to contemporary web standards.

So, we’re stepping back and will launch a new UMBC web presence in Summer 2006—homepage and all. We’ve turned off comments to the original story below, but if you’d like to learn what we plan to do (and offer new comments) click here. Future updates will appear on the Webteam blog and be linked to About This Site on the current homepage.

In late September, UMBC’s homepage will have a brand new design. While the existing navigation and features will not change, the new homepage will have a fresher look and more information about University events and news, as well as photos of the campus. This week, we’re providing a sneak preview of the new homepage at http://www.umbc.edu/index_new.html and an opportunity for the campus community to submit comments at www.umbc.edu/oit/webdev/news.

Designed by Jim Lord ‘99, associate director of creative services, the homepage is the result of conversations between eMedia, the University’s interdepartmental Web team, and the campus community. These conversations were the first phase of discussions with the UMBC community about a redesign of the entire UMBC Web site—including site structure, navigation, consistency and content—that will take place over the next 2005-06 academic year.

The new homepage includes expanded Campus Life and What’s New sections, and photos that promote upcoming events and highlight the campus, in response to comments from the UMBC community that the site should be more welcoming and include more campus images and information that supports the University’s many events and accomplishments. There’s also a new About UMBC site—designed by Michelle Jordan ’93, interactive designer and Jim Lord—with resources for both internal and external audiences, including facts, recent achievements and information on campus governance and administration.

“With the new homepage design and the upcoming site-wide redesign, we hope to improve the quality of content for our users, from facts to features that tell the UMBC story,”said Eleanor Lewis, assistant director of online information, who oversees content development and management for UMBC’s site. “I see my job as a partnership with members of the UMBC community, working closely with them so that I can provide up-to-date information and promote their events and achievements throughout our Web site.”

A similar redesign is occurring with myUMBC, the campus Web portal, to better serve current students, faculty and staff. Launched in 1999, myUMBC was one of the first generation campus portals in higher education. But the site needs a new technical infrastructure to support current and future needs, so the Office of Information Technology will be releasing a working beta version on or around September 19, and plans to launch a new myUMBC by the spring ’06 semester.

“College and university Web sites are challenging because they have to serve internal members of the community who know their institution better than many prospective, external users who don’t,”said John Fritz, director of New Media Learning & Development, and a member of the original Web teams that launched UMBC’s main site and portal. “We’re trying to redesign how all users experience UMBC’s Web presence.”

To help, Fritz and OIT have hired Jackie Ward as UMBC’s first-ever campus Web architect (and full-time Web employee). Ward will have lead responsibility for managing the top-level organization, navigation, usability and content management policies of the University's main Web site and portal, informed by Web steering and advisory committees consisting of selected campus departments or stakeholders. She will also serve as the primary support staff member for departmental web developers to provide guidance, training and support to help improve their sites.

If you did not participate in our previous discussions about UMBC’s Web site or portal, there are still opportunities to provide input, and we’d love to hear from you. OIT and OIA are launching a UMBC Webteam blog where you can comment about the redesign of each site throughout the year. Alternately, you can send e-mail to webteam@umbc.edu.