New CAS Website Goes Live

Posted on: October 15, 2013

Dean Pam WhittenOver the summer, the college's communication team took on the challenge of overhauling our website. In a community of academics, technology and social media experts, creatives and professional communicators, making everyone happy with a new website is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. It's truly been a team effort throughout the college with department chairs, associate deans, faculty, staff, students and alumni all working together to define priorities.

When we asked college leadership what their highest priority was for the new website, they unanimously agreed that our students must be the number one driving force behind the redesign.

Student Hub

Results: Check out the new Student Hub section that hosts content created by students for students. It features live feeds for social media, student-submitted photos of the week, video highlights of student groups and a variety of happenings that our students want to share. In addition to the Student Hub, the very popular "Student Intern of the Week" feature that appears in our electronic newsletter, CAS News, now has a regular presence on the home page under "Student Spotlight." Overall and perhaps most importantly, the entire website has been streamlined to be more student friendly, resource rich and fun to explore.

When we asked students what they wanted most in a new website, they said they wanted to be able to find out what types of careers aligned with their college pursuits and how they could best prepare for those careers. They also wanted the new site to showcase our students' academic, career development and creative abilities. And lastly, they wanted to know more about the amazing work and talents of our faculty.

Results: Front and center on our new home page is a collection of galleries, EXPLORE your future, DISCOVER life-changing research, and students CREATE. The EXPLORE gallery provides a visual showcase of the incredible career opportunities best exemplified by CAS alumni, as well as student internships and study abroad experiences. The DISCOVER gallery highlights leading research underway by our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students that's improving lives around the world. And the CREATE gallery is a collection of award-winning work by our students that includes photography, digital design, documentaries and online magazines.

When we asked faculty how the new website could better meet their needs, they emphasized that the new site be more cutting edge, visual and compelling to attract top graduate students and faculty. They also wanted to be able to update their own profiles with a variety of digital media.

Results: Throughout the site you will find high-quality digital media and the latest plug-ins integrated to enhance appearance and functionality of the website. In the Faculty and Staff Directory, each individual listed will be able to build out their own microsite and share their portfolios, enhanced with their latest digital media projects and links to their published research.

You can already see the potential of this directory as prospective students and research funders scope out the talents and credentials of our faculty. Additionally, "Faculty Features" are now incorporated on each department landing page and a "Meet Your Professor" weekly post is part of the Student Hub.

When we asked alumni and our advancement team what their priorities were for the new website, they said all of the above, as well as "make it easy for alumni to network with each other and students, and for donors to give."

Results: One of our students' richest resources is our alumni network. Our alumni not only head up some of the most innovative companies and organizations in the world today, they also offer our students hundreds of exciting internships for learning what it takes to follow in their footsteps. Of course, our alumni also recognize that CAS students make excellent recruits for building their enterprises as well.

To ensure students make this important connection, you may have noticed that we added a weekly feature, "Alumni All-Stars," to CAS News recently, which also appears on our new website home page. That's in addition to the EXPLORE your future gallery noted above and the new Career Services landing page.

We've also incorporated social media links at all levels throughout the site so alumni can easily connect and post with each other and students at the college level, just within the department or unit level, or directly with faculty and staff.

A "community room" feature has been built within the infrastructure of the new site that will enable alumni to connect, chat and share ideas with other invited alumni who have common interests. We will be training staff to deploy this feature in the next few weeks before it goes live, so if you are one of our alumni, we'll be chatting with you soon!

Additionally, we are adding photo galleries to the "Alumni & Friends" section of the website that will be readily available following each alumni event. The new galleries allow alumni to easily share photos with others using social media. Check out last weekends' Homecoming events gallery here!

This is just the beginning of what we have in the works to make sure the CAS website reflects the amazing people, places and programs that comprise our college community. As typical of a new website of this size and complexity, staff are still working fast and furiously to fully optimize its functionality and keep the content fresh and robust.

In the weeks and months ahead, I encourage you to check out cas.msu.edu frequently to see how we are continuing to push the envelope to prepare tomorrow's global communicators!

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