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The creation of a new Web site Miscellaneous

Bookmark this: University News has launched a new Web site.

We rebuilt the University News site so that it prominently showcases academic news (e.g. research, scholarship, science, technology), while featuring new media tools such as this blog, podcasts, videocasts and RSS (online subscription) feeds.

We first began talking about a new Web site in the spring. With the help of University Publications, we drafted a new design. Then we gave the ball to our graduate student Pete Karl, a Web developer who created the architecture behind the site. Pete, a native of Point Pleasant, NJ, earned his bachelor’s degree at RIT in information technology with news media at RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. He is now working on a master’s degree in the IT program.

Throughout the summer and fall, we have been ramping up our new media (podcasts and blog) under the leadership of Mike Saffran, associate UNS director and director of new media.

We see the new site as more than just a public relations site. We see it as a portal to good academic news featuring research and scholarship. Our target audience is the RIT family, which is nearly 200,000 people when you consider alumni, students, parents of students, faculty and staff. But we want the site to expand further to folks who are interested in news about technology, science and more. And, of course, it is a bonus when reporters pick off information from our site.

Even prior to launching the new site, online traffic has been growing rapidly at our news site. Through November of this year, we had more than 1.5 million sessions on the site and 3.2 million page views. By comparison, for all of 2002 the site had 336,000 sessions and 802,000 page views. We also know that the majority of this traffic comes from outside RIT. We expect this trend to continue with the new site and we encourage you to promote our site to your friends and colleagues outside RIT.

One final plug: Get your daily dose of RIT news today. Sign up for RSS feeds, subscribe to a podcast, bookmark University News, and pass along our site along to a friend.

  1. Justin Thorp
    Dec 06

    Hey gang, kudos on the new site!. It looks really nice. I especially like how it goes with the new RIT.edu design.

    A few quick questions...
    -why have the url where the site resides to thetigerbeat.com/news? Having the site at rit.edu, users can always look up and know where they are. I think when someone sends you a link what is in the URL helps to give it weight. A URL that says RIT.edu holds A LOT more weight then thetigerbeat.com.

    - I really dig that you guys are featuring more news. I like to know whats going on at RIT. My concern is that the main story "Buckeye fan is truly a Tiger at heart" takes up most of my screen when I load up the page. I am using a 1024x768 resolution monitor on a 12inch Powerbook. I have to scroll A LOT to get to info that I want. I can send a screen shot if that would help.

    - how would someone get the RSS feeds that Bob mentioned? I don't see a link on the home page. They aren't showing up in firefox. (i.e. they aren't declared in the link tag)

    Otherwise, it looks GREAT. You guys should feel good about the new look.

  2. Pete
    Dec 07

    Hey Justin.

    As for the rit.edu issue, we are working on attaining ritnews.edu until the site can return to RIT's servers. Due to software restrictions on grace, this site only exists because we temporarily vacated to 3rd party host. We'll continue to point people to rit.edu/news, however, as that will always point to the home of RIT's news site.

    - no comment

    - The RSS feeds are being implemented within the next couple of days

  3. Bob
    Dec 07

    Justin: Thanks for the feedback. We really value it. Pete explained/responded to some of your questions. In terms of photo size, I suppose there are many variables at work here including browsers and settings. We can examine this further.

    Meanwhile, the beauty of the Web is that you can make continuous improvements. We are already working on additing more features. This includes a photo gallery with slide shows, a tool box for printing and e-mailing stories and much more....Stay tuned.

  4. Justin Thorp
    Dec 07

    Bob, as Pete will tell you, most research says that users are using 1024 x 768 resolution monitors. This means that most of your users are going to be having the same experience that I am with the large feature image.

  5. Pete
    Dec 08

    OK, here's a comment.

    The top story photo was originaly designed in a very funky width to height ratio. In photoshop it looked good, but it wasn't friendly to a majority of the photos we wanted to use in there. In response to this, we created a taller top story area.

    However, in a 1024x768 resolution, all of the crucial page elements are still visible. The site search, category navigation, weather, and new media features are all readily accessible. Tertiary elements such as the RIT header, current date, and portions of the publications and latest news sections are also visible.

    Items below the fold include stories featured in publications, RIT news hits, and a list of releases. We don't consider these elements to be 'hidden' as they each creep into the 'upper fold' of the page.

    If I was to re-evaluate the content placement of this site, however, I would probably have taken a more horizontal approach. The sidebar, while thin, is very long. Therefore, several elements of the bar are pushed below the fold. I would certainly shrink the top story image a bit, and compact some of the page elements. Though I do appreciate the large image. It feels very crisp. HD news. :)

  6. Silandara
    Dec 14

    A quick update on the ritnews.edu idea - apparently higher-ed institutions can only have 1 .edu per university. EDUCAUSE, the keepers of the .edu domains, doesn't see the need to open it up any more than that, even though many universities are running into similar issues as us (i.e. hosting parts of their sites on 3rd party servers). The last time they broached the issue was in September 2003 when they decided to not do anything about it. (See meeting minutes.)

    We've also been unable to register ritnews.com, as someone else beat us to it.

    But, like Pete said, rit.edu/news will always point to wherever the University News page happens to be living and that's the URL we'll continue to use to direct people to the site.

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