Going live!

York’s new external Web site debuts today, just in time for the Ontario Universities Fair at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The new external site highlights the advantages of York to outside audiences, and features an enhanced design and content that showcases the educational and research strengths of the University. (See the Sept. 22 issue of YFile.)


Above: York’s new external homepage

“We know from our research that students and their familes make extensive use of Web sites to do their research on universities. York’s new Web site has developed navigation that speaks to future students and their parents,” said Rob Tiffin, York’s assistant vice-president enrolment management and registrar. “Over the next three days at the Ontario University Fair, well over 45,000 students and their parents will be collecting information on universities. We will be encouraging them to take the next step by going to York’s Web site and making arrangements to visit the University, especially during the Fall Campus Days on Nov. 6 at Keele and Nov. 7 at Glendon.”

The launch has been timed to coincide with the start of the new recruitment cycle. It will also help channel student enquiries for the upcoming January admission. Visitors viewing York’s new external site will see a headline with a link to more news. This information will be updated frequently. Six designs highlighting York University’s interdisciplinary approach will run in rotation on the home page, in two sets, each time the site is refreshed. This will reinforce York’s “Redefine the Possible” message. In addition, there are links for future students, parents and family, counsellors and teachers, graduate students and continuing education. A separate link provides navigation for current students, faculty and staff.

The site showcases York’s many strengths – its people, its interdisciplinary research, its international scope, and its collaborative programs and specialties. It offers a simplified set of navigation tools which will allow visitors to move quickly to their destination. The external site will in essence serve as a road map for visitors to explore York University and discover, with ease, the information they came to find.

Visitors will be able to arrange for a tour of the University and get immediate directions to the campuses. Parents, teachers and counsellors will also be able to bone up on why York University is the best destination for post secondary education. Prospective students will be able to get instant feedback on the status of their application.

“The navigation of the new Web site has been designed to ensure that parents and counsellors find the site as accessible as possible,” said Barbara Brown, York’s director recruitment and marketing. “This should greatly enhance the University’s ability to communicate directly with people who have an influence with students as they choose a university.”

Business as usual for the internal community

For members of the York community, it’s important to know that it will be business as usual. You will simply have to reset your home page to www.yorku.ca/yorkweb. After that, you will be able to follow the internal site as before. (The “old” site simply becomes the internal site.) The external community will access the new York home page at www.yorku.ca. Both the internal and external Web sites will remain accessible to all. There will be a link from the home page of the external site to the internal site, labelled “Current students, faculty and staff”.

Here is a set of frequently asked questions prepared for the launch of the new site.

What do we mean by a new external Web site?
The current Web site has around 500,000 pages and can be extremely confusing for outsiders who are not familiar with York. Obviously this is not ideal if we are aiming to attract students or influence other external audiences. The new external Web site will initially total under 1,000 pages and will either contain, or provide easy links to, information that outside audiences are seeking. The URL is www.yorku.ca and will go live today.

What will happen to the current site?
The current Web site (referred to as the internal site) will now be primarily for current students, staff and faculty. The long-term goal will be to post on the internal and external sites only information relevant to their respective audiences. Both the internal and external sites will remain accessible to all. The current Web site can be accessed directly from www.yorku.ca/yorkweb or via a link off the home page of the external site.

What’s driving the timing of the external web launch?
The goal is to be ready for the Ontario Universities Fair, which starts today and marks the effective beginning of the new recruitment cycle. This is also good timing for prospects considering January enrolment.

My unit has just undergone a Web site redesign. Will all of this work have to be redone?
No. Conforming the look to the internal site remains the right thing to have done as the unit sites will still remain located on the internal site. However, now they can be accessed from the external site too.

Won’t that mean there will be two different looks?
Yes, but right now there are hundreds of different looks on the internal site. If we can get as close as possible to an external and an internal look, it will be far less confusing for the outsider.
Will my information be on both Web sites? What happens to the old links?
It’s business as usual. Your information will remain where it currently is and will look as it currently does. Any pages on your site linked from the new Future Students pages will remain intact. Any links from your site to the former Admissions site should be examined to ensure they are still active. A listing of those links is available by visiting www.yorku.ca/web/keyredirects.html. Redirecting of links for the most commonly referred to pages will be in place from today until the end of 2004.

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