Montana State University

MSU launches three new homepages, upgrades Web infrastructure

September 24, 2014 -- MSU News Service

Montana State University has launched three new homepages that have a fresh, modern look and are also designed to have more focused information and work well on a wide array of users' devices. This photo illustration shows the prospective student-focused homepage on several different devices. Photo illustration by Jake Dolan.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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Montana State University has launched three new homepages that have a fresh, modern look, and are also designed to have more focused information and work well on a wide array of users’ devices.

The new homepages – located at www.montana.edu, www.montana.edu/students/, and www.montana.edu/facultystaff/ – are targeted to one of three distinct groups of people: prospective students and their parents, current students, and faculty and staff, according to Jake Dolan, director of MSU Web and Digital Communications. The shift from one homepage to three will allow users to find the right resources more easily, he said.

“We want to connect our users with the right information they need the first time they land on our pages,” Dolan said. “We’re very excited to be able to offer more targeted information to these groups of people and are confident it will help improve their experiences on our website.” 

In addition, the new designs are responsive, which means that the display size of the pages automatically adjusts to match individual users’ specific devices, Dolan said. So, regardless of whether the pages are being viewed through a smartphone, tablet, desktop computer or other device, they’ll work equally well. 

“Our new homepages are easy to use on any type of device,” Dolan said. “Ultimately, this allows our content to be more flexible, and it allows the user to have a more positive experience. This is particularly important as mobile Internet use among prospective and current students rises.”

The pages offer a selection of news, events, and resources for their targeted audience. The homepage for prospective students and parents also offers a new feature, known as the “snapshot” section, which includes select images that have been shared on Instagram with the hashtag #montanastate. In that way, the page allows users to share photos of their experiences at Montana State with a wide audience.

“Through the snapshot section, we’re really calling on the MSU community to tell its own story through images,” Dolan said. “’Snapshot’ has become a very popular feature and has resulted in hundreds of submissions in its first weeks. We’re glad to be able to use all of these phenomenal images.”

MSU Creative Services designed the new homepages.

Along with the launch of the new homepages, the university’s IT Center has upgraded its Web infrastructure so that it can better support the homepages and handle high volumes of traffic more effectively, according to Jerry Sheehan, MSU’s chief information officer.

Sheehan said the upgrade to a cluster of servers provides better performance and reliability for the entire MSU website. 

“The launch of the Web pages in the university’s new content management system, coupled with our new hardware, provide MSU with a more robust enterprise infrastructure for sharing information with our students, staff, faculty and the public,” Sheehan said. “These investments help increase the ease of putting information online and assure that we can respond to any surges in Web traffic."

Dolan said both the new Web infrastructure and the newly redesigned Web pages are the result of the hard work of a number of MSU staff members. 

“This website and these Web pages are the result of an incredible effort by a team of experts,” Dolan said. “The end product is first-rate, and it allows us to tell the story of MSU in a very exciting, user-friendly way.”

 

Contact: Jake Dolan, director, MSU Web and Digital Communications, (406) 994-5036 or jake@montana.edu