After months of in-house development, a new top-level University of Nevada, Reno website launched on Thursday, May 13, with the aim of increasing the size and academic quality of the student body.
The website, located at unr.edu, places priority on catering to prospective undergraduate students. Seeking to play the role of a virtual tour guide, the website offers an array of basic and contextual information, presented in a clean, consistent and aesthetically pleasing manner.
"Because the university is such an extensive place, it's quite a feat to provide prospective students with a true overview experience of the place," said Brandon Stewart, web editor in the university's Digital Initiatives office. "Instead of trying to manage every piece of information about the university, we thought a more strategic goal was to create, in-house, a website that knows a little about quite a few different aspects of our university.
"Because no central administrative unit could ever hope to handle such a large volume of information, the programs themselves maintain individual websites with the latest and most accurate information."
Information for internal audiences has been condensed in the "Quick Links" panel, found by clicking on the blue tab in the top-right corner of the website. That panel contains all of the most high traffic links, including "Email," "WebCampus" and "Forms."
While the amount of information within the top-level website will start relatively small, it will continually grow to showcase all facets of the university.
Stewart said he hopes the university community will take ownership in the website, much the same way Wikipedia users contribute to the popular online encyclopedia.
"It's my hope that current students, faculty and staff will see how their programs are portrayed and offer suggestions to improve the content," he said.
Such participation is easy, by using the black "feedback" tab on the left side of each page.
The importance of targeting prospective undergraduate students cannot be overstated, Stewart said.
"Prospective students are the lifeblood of the university," he said. "To be competitive in recruiting talented students, the university’s top-level website must offer future students all the information they need to make a decision to attend Nevada. From academic programs to fraternities and sororities, the website’s main purpose is to share all of the great reasons to be a Nevada student."
While developed in-house over the past several months, the website was shown to several different key stakeholder groups on campus, in an effort to ensure that key university messages were emphasized.
The university’s website has had several different incarnations over the years. From a “news-only,” text-heavy format in the late 1990s to the more recent “Discover Nevada” format with prominent images and “one-stop” transactional features for prospective and current students, the website continues to be the university’s most effective and most viewed entryway.