Berks

Kutztown University: New website improves user experience

MAXATAWNY TWP., Pa. - A campus-wide project that took two years to complete has resulted in a new website for Kutztown University.

KU announced Tuesday the launch of a refreshed kutztown.edu, which incorporates the university's newly-developed brand and features a responsive design that is mobile-friendly across all browsers.

The new website streamlines content with the use of accordions that can be expanded and contracted by the user, KU officials said. It also features an expanded use of photo galleries along with image carousels that allow users to scroll through masthead images and videos.

"This is the culmination of a presidential initiative; one of the first things Dr. [Kenneth] Hawkinson requested when he came here was to redesign the website," said Josh Leiboff, KU's director of web and digital media. "The way we did it was to bring the website into the modern age of technology and make it responsive and mobile friendly. We've made it better for students, prospective students or any other user to use and we did so in a way that allows us to continue to build upon it and make it easier to use."

One of the redesign's primary goals, Leiboff said, was to help guide prospective students, as well as current students who are undeclared, through the process of selecting the right major. To accomplish that, the team developed a program finder that allows students to search by categories and interests, as well as by all majors, minors and programs at the undergraduate and graduate/doctoral levels.

Another feature of the new website -- called K YOU, a play on the KU acronym -- is a gold button on the top of every page that opens to show D2L, email and MyKU links, three of the applications used most by students and employees.

"No longer will students need to go to a certain page to find the links for these high-traffic applications," Leiboff said. "They can get to them from anywhere on the site."

Several areas of the university worked together to develop the new website, with all the work being done by an in-house development team, Leiboff said. Their work was guided in part by student focus groups and a committee that included faculty and staff members.

"Many times, schools will outsource the heavy lifting of development and design; but because we developed the website here, we have a better understanding and ability to keep it up-to-date as things change," Leiboff said. "We can react to any issues much quicker and focus on providing a great user experience."

While the new website is up and running, the development team's work isn't done. Future additions and updates could include user customization in the K YOU area of the site and a "people search," officials said. The team also plans to monitor the data, maps, and search engine optimization and use the information to enhance the site.


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