OCCC website up and running with new look

Visitors to OCCC’s website might notice a few changes — not only in the layout, but in the overall design.

The new look and layout are the result of a lot of research, said John Richardson, online marketing coordinator.

“Before there were any pictures, any renderings, we went through months of conversations and interviews and focus groups,” Richardson said.

“We asked people to navigate our old website and find things. When we saw they had difficulty, we decided to take a different approach to help them get where they needed to go.”

The new site focuses on students, both prospective and current, said Paula Gower, Marketing and Public Relations director.

Gower said features designed specifically for students include a sidebar listing of degrees offered by OCCC on the homepage, and toolbars at the top of the page with menus for financial aid, student services, and labs and centers.

The new look, which features a broad multi-color scheme and uses a variety of fonts and effects, was designed to be more engaging, she said.

“We want you to come to the page, and be more visually interested in the page itsel,” Gower said. “People tend to look at a website in a different way than they look at print,” she said.

“So in order to guide the eye through the page, bits of color and design are placed in different spots, to lead a person through the page to the information they need.”

Gower said the color scheme actually changed right before the site went up.

“We had anticipated the site going live earlier in the year, and the colors we had for the site matched the branding and marketing we’ve had for the last six years. But because of the timing of when the website went live, it was just better to make the shift to the color for the new campaign, instead of going live and then changing it in a month.”

But while the design may be the most visible change, many of the updates aren’t visible to the public, Richardson said. The new site allows for cascading changes, allowing the whole site to be updated at once, rather than a single page at a time.

“And that’s a very good thing,” Richardson said. “The thought of going through page after page after page is just incredibly depressing.”

Another change, Richardson said, is the integration of the site with OCCC’s content management system, allowing all the pages on the site to be managed from a single interface.

He said the site also includes new search technology.

“We’ve acquired a Google mini-device that will go and crawl our entire site every day, and index it.

“It’s still not tweaked completely but I think it’s going to be a positive thing for people that come to the site and don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.”

Richardson said, when fully set up, the search function will not only allow users to confine their search to the OCCC site but also to a specific section of the site, such as a single department.

“I think it turned out really well,” Richardson said.

“Obviously I’m biased, but I’m pretty happy with it. Some people have submitted questions, and we’ve either handled them or are continuing to work on them, but I’ve generally gotten pretty positive comments on the new site.”

The information panels on the homepage are one of the features Elizabeth Claudio, premed major, said she likes in the new site. Claudio also said she likes the new website’s design.

“The way the colors coordinate gives it a fresh look. It feels younger, more interesting.”

Chau Le, nursing major, said the new design helps him in his role as a peer adviser.

“I work with the new website every day,” Le said. “One of the things I really like is that I can see a list of the programs right on the homepage.

“I get phone calls from students when they’re looking for the courses for their major and now I can tell them to go to the homepage and use the list on the right hand side.”

Le also said he feels the new website is more clear, that it directs the user in more detail.

“It’s not hard to use. You spend some time and play around with it, and you’ll get it.”

Kitty Burton, child development major, said the site is difficult to navigate.

“I can’t stand it. It’s impossible to navigate, and it lists all of OCCC’s employees regardless of whether or not they’re still employed.

“There’s no way to get phone numbers of employees.”

Burton said the color scheme makes no sense as well.

“I wish they would have stuck with the OCCC colors of red and white instead of using yellow and brown.”

She said she would like if the college had just improved on its former website.

“It was easier to navigate despite taking years to make a new website. They need to hire a competent company to recreate the old website with a few new navigational buttons.”

To offer feedback or ask a question about the new site, go to www.occc.edu/admissions/ask.html.

To contact Jeremy Cloud, email editor@occc.edu.

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