The largest redesign in the history of the Sonoma State University website is under way and is scheduled to be launched in summer 2016. The primary objectives for this project are:
- A responsive, mobile-first design
- Improved navigation for site visitors
- Increased accessibility
- An easier interface for web content developers
While the new site will feature a new look and new navigation, the biggest change will be on the backend. Information Technology is replacing the current web infrastructure with Drupal, an enterprise, open source, web content management system. Drupal is a very popular Web CMS used by many large and small organizations, and has increasing use in higher education, including other CSUs.
Staff from Information Technology, University Affairs and the University Library are working together with an outside contractor on the project, with ongoing input and guidance from the campus Web and Marketing Committee and Web Team.
With Drupal, web content editors have much more functionality and the ability to better manage their content. The new site will provide a friendly interface for web editors to upload and revise content. Knowledge of HTML or Dreamweaver will no longer be needed and content changes can be quickly performed and published.
Pre-designed templates will ensure consistent navigation across the site, enhancing users’ ability to locate the information they seek. These same templates will put in place a uniform design system that will pull the site together into a cohesive look. These templates also will be designed to meet University standards for accessibility, fonts and colors. This will enable web page editors to save time by being able to focus solely on the content.
Will there be new URLs?
Most SSU website will be moving to subdomains. The main URL www.sonoma.edu will remain, but departments will see their web addresses change, where, generally, www.sonoma.edu/mydepartment will become mydepartment.sonoma.edu. The new URLs will be assigned as department websites are converted to the new design. After conversion, IT will make sure the old URLs redirect users to the new site.
Will I need training?
For those faculty, staff and students who will be maintaining their own website, training to edit and create content in Drupal will be required. Workshops, online videos and documentation will be made available after the launch in Summer 2016, and on a continuing basis as the campus moves to the new system. A workshop schedule and links to materials will be posted when available.
Will the new site be accessible?
Sonoma State University is committed to creating web pages that are accessible to individuals with disabilities and those who use assistive technology. By using a content management system, it will be easier for the University to keep its web pages compliant with the Chancellor’s Office Executive Order 926 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
How will the website redesign affect me?
If you are a web content editor, you will be no longer use Dreamweaver and WebDAV to maintain your SSU pages. All page creation and editing will be done through a new web interface that is easier to use. To others, the website will have a different look and, more than likely, be organized differently.
What will happen to my current website?
After the initial launch of the new design and platform, your current website will continue to function just as it does now, and it will still be maintained using Dreamweaver or the HTML editor of your choice. When the time comes to migrate your website to the new platform, members of the Web Office, Web Team and Creative Services will work closely with you to efficiently and carefully move you through each step of the process.
When will my site move to the new design?
When the new site launches in June, these are the pages that will display the new design: the home page, NewsCenter, events, Admissions site, and a number of other pages that will link directly from the home page. The process of migrating all of the schools, academic and administrative sites will follow. The first group of sites to be moved over will be all of the sites that link off the home page that weren't included in the initial launch. This will begin during the summer. The next group to migrate will include all of the rest of the University's sites and it will begin with fall semester.
How will my site move to the new design?
To make the most of our website redesign, the migration of each website will follow a procedure that has been established by the Redesign Team, with approval of the Web Team and the Web and Marketing Committee. The process includes: Drupal training, identifying your website's audiences, determining the goals of your website, performing a content audit, creating a sitemap, updating and/or developing content and copying the content into the new web page. A member of the Web Team and the Redesign Team will work closely with the department content owner and the department content editor throughout the process.
What can I do now to prepare for migrating my site?
Each department can begin now to review the content on its site and determine what content you want to keep, what should be deleted and create any new content. This is probably the biggest step for each department to perform in the migration process so starting now will greatly reduce the time the needed to move your site to the new design.
The campus Web and Marketing Committee and the Web Team began evaluating the need to redesign the SSU website in 2013. After research and approval of the proposed project, a vendor was selected last summer to collaborate with these two groups to help with organizing the navigation and redesigning the look, as well as providing initial training.
SSU Websites will move to Drupal and the new design in two phases:
- Phase 1, launching in Spring 2017
- The University homepage
- Top level pages (e.g. sitemap, pages about SSU)
- Phase 2, Summer 2017
- Sites that link off of the home page that were not included in the initial launch
- Phase 3, begins Fall 2017 and continues until complete
- Administrative sites
Questions and Comments
If you have questions or comments you would like to share about redesigning the SSU website, feel free to send an email to the Web Redesign Team.