Website Revamp Planned for YSU

By Laura McDonough

The Youngstown State University website consists of over 10,000 webpages and poor structure.

An initiative started by Ross Morrone, assistant director of Marketing Communications at YSU, revamps the website to make it more accessible for prospective students.

As it stands, Morrone said the website is too large and isn’t doing enough to help prospective students easily find what they are looking for.

Morrone said most current student interaction with the website occurs through Portal, so daily interactions with the website will be uninterrupted.

“The structure of the system running the website also doesn’t allow us to inject our brand messaging into the entire site,” Morrone said. “The new architecture will, allowing us to push our brand [the Y and Proud campaign] in our traditional mediums and on our website. That is something we have never done a good job of in the past.”

In addition to the website redesign, the stress on marketing has been raised because the online course catalog is being redone so it complements the website.

Kevin Ball, associate provost for academic programs, is working with an outside vendor to redesign the catalog.

Ball spoke with several student groups about the current catalog and said he was worried no one had been using it, but it turned out they were. Students weren’t finding what they needed though, and often go to their departments for information that should be accessible via the catalog.

“It wasn’t really serving our needs,” Ball said. “We’re hoping that [the redesign] will make the catalog something that students can use much more productively.”

Sean Meditz, vice president of university affairs in the Student Government Association, said he has also received complaints about the website being hard to navigate.

“You get emails from activities about what’s going on during the week, but why not just have a calendar?” Meditz said.

When he talked to Student Activities about it, they told him they did have all that information online.

“They showed it to us and we had to click on five different links just to get to the calendar,” Meditz said.

He said it should be on the front page, but it may not have been considered when the website was initially designed, but navigation complaints may be being addressed now.

The new catalog will be updated to have general information about YSU policies and academic information, including curriculum for all the programs.

In the spring, the vendor will come to campus and train faculty who will be responsible for the website. They’ll learn how to maintain it and update it on the university’s end to save money by not hiring someone else to maintain it.

One new addition will be placing four-year plans in the catalog for majors in the same place. They will outline suggested courses for students to take each semester to graduate within four years.

The new catalog is expected to launch for the 2016-17 school year and may coincide with new students at events such as Ignite.