In the three weeks since its launch, the new Fairfield University website has shown features that have strongly differentiated it from the older, more familiar website.

A Fairfield poll of 62 votes showed that since its release, 52 percent of students like the new website as opposed to 48 percent that don’t.

The website cost over $200,000 which will be paid over three years, according to Catherine O’Donnell, director of marketing for academics and admission.

The new website launched on Jan. 24 after around a year of planning and articulating by the university faculty and staff who hired two outside website development companies to complete the project.

One of the main features of the new website is that it is now mobile friendly. A central aspect the university wanted to have with the new website, O’Donnell said was to be “compatible with all mobile devices.”

“I am happy with it. I think it’s a lot quicker and easier to navigate and find what you are looking for,” said Alex Morgan ’17. “It’s a better presentation of Fairfield online.”

The planning for the new website started in the fall of 2012, according to O’Donnell. She said the university put out a Request for Proposals where faculty, staff, administrators and a steering committee searched for six companies to lead this project.

“It is definitely a new outlook. It is revitalized and much more modern,” said Keniel Brown ’17. “It seems more attractive to look at and you can still find everything you need on it.”

The two companies that were chosen, 160 Over 90 and Terminal Four, were essential in helping Fairfield release the new website.

A central reason behind the new website, according to O’Donnell, was that it was time for a change. “Our university had outgrown the old website,” she said.

Before making the transition to the new website, the older one was in place for around five to six years, said Deirdre Bennett, assistant director of student affairs communications.

According to O’Donnell, 160 Over 90, a company that had previously worked with other higher education institutions along with Nike Tennis, Mercedes Benz and American Eagle, among others, headed the design element of the website. Terminal Four was responsible for the infrastructure of the website. The company “hosts and holds the content of the website,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said that 160 Over 90 designed the website to correlate with the Fairfield community. They based it on intellectual development, personal enrichment, and a sense of community.

But their work with Fairfield isn’t over yet.

The companies are now producing more videos and photography for the website, constructing admissions packets and a microsite, a website geared towards prospective Fairfield students.

The new website was supposed to launch in October of 2013, according to O’Donnell. But it just wasn’t where the university wanted it to be.

“It took a full year to get it to where it is today,” said Bennett.  The overall opinion of the faculty and staff about the new website is positive and think it’s more appealing than the older one, she said.

But Dr. Christopher Huntley, associate professor of information systems and operations management had a different opinion.

He said that the new website appears as though it’s an ad for Abercrombie and Fitch. “The more pictures you have of people the more you pay attention to what they are wearing,” he said, referring to the websites pictures.

Huntley also said the website has bugs that will have to be worked out in the coming weeks to fully perfect it. He informed Cathleen Donahue, senior director of marketing and communications of these issues in November during the 160 Over 90 Presentation of the website, but he said they are still present in the site.

One issue with the website he raised was, “Where is the Fairfield University logo?” This among others including issues with the search bar on the website make it imperfect.

Making the website change also caused the university to make it a more engaged experience. It is less content-heavy, said O’Donnell. “Less is more in the web world,” she said.

“The pictures are nice,” said Caroline Gailius ’17. “It’s not too informational on the first page, so it’s not overwhelming.”

The website will be maintained by around 100 Fairfield faculty and staff who are trained in updating with interesting content, O’Donnell said.

Even though the new website is fully functioning as of its release date, more elements will be added to it in the coming weeks and months.

“The work on this website never ends,” O’Donnell said.

Students are encouraged to make suggestions and recommendations on how to improve the website by contacting the university Webmaster Laura Johnson by sending an email on the university website.

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