AACC updates website with input from users


Photo by Jesse Johnson

AACC’s relaunched website allows users improved access on mobile devices.

Jesse Johnson , Editor-in-Chief

AACC will relaunch its website on April 3.

The redesigned site is less cluttered and easier for students to navigate, according to Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing Dan Baum.

The new version also will be easier to use on mobile phones and tablets, Baum said.

Baum’s department began the redesign process when the Board of Trustees approved a complete overhaul of the website in January 2015.

AACC published its original website in 1997 and updated it every few years, with the most recent version going live in 2012.

“I had a feeling [the internet] would turn into something big,” Charles West, AACC’s senior graphic designer, said of the original site, which he designed. “This first website was more like a placeholder waiting for the day when more contributors would take their positions as stakeholders in the ongoing college website project that would someday exist.”

Over the years, visitors complained that they could not find what they were looking for on the site, according to Baum. And as the popularity of cell phones grew, mobile users found viewing and navigating the site a challenge, he said.

The new website got an upgraded content management system, which will allow administrators to do simple tasks like add or remove information, like scheduling an end date for an event. The website will automatically take the event page down once the date has passed.

That means users of the site will have fewer out-of-date pages to wade through. In fact, designers have whittled the site from 10,000-plus pages to 600, according to Laurie Farrell, assistant director of public relations.

The website includes a new tab for Campus Life, a section where visitors can find news about activities and clubs on campus. A new resources tab will show visitors where they can find tutoring services or career advising.

After the initial website design was finalized, the department began to omit dormant pages. The process of evaluating and finding which pages should stay and which should go, Baum said, was similar to remodeling a house.

“When you’re remodeling [a house] you don’t really know what you’re getting into until you start opening up the walls and pulling up the floor,” Baum said. “We had a similar experience when we went into the [previous] system and found thousands of pages.”

Baum brought in outside companies to build and test the new website. The department also hired copywriters to help with writing and editing content.

The department enlisted the help of students to test the website, asking groups to rate information as easy, challenging or impossible to find.

An intern helped write questions for the testing sessions from a student’s perspective. The intern suggested that the site make it clear how students can get their ID cards or sell their books at the end of the semester.

Additionally, Baum presented the website to a graphic design class, asking for student feedback about potential flaws.

Kathryn Robbins, a second year-student in the graphic design class, said the new design is modern and easy to navigate.

“The information is all together so that the links on the pages for the degrees are relevant,” Robbins said. “[The links] help the viewer to learn more about the degree rather than sending the user in a circle.”

Lucas Baker, a mechatronics major, said the new website is clear and understandable for viewers.

“The previous website was a bit confusing to find what you are looking for with all the tabs and side menus,” Baker said. “The new website is much more streamlined and organized so it is easier to locate the information you are looking for.”

Faculty and staff also tested the website. According to Baum, they were “the knowledge experts who really know” what is going on in classrooms and on campus.

Baum said the new website uses photography and video more than the old one because students prefer to receive information that way.

“With web design, it is constantly evolving,” Baum said. “We just need to keep listening to our students, so it evolves with them.”

The redesigned website does not affect how students can access Canvas or MYAACC, according to Baum.