IT undergoes change

After 18 months of comparing the St. John’s University web site to other collegiate web sites, the University has teamed up with Navistream to improve current user tools and redesign the new site.

The former six-person web team in charge of server maintenance, day to day updates and various design projects, also was terminated, except for one developer who will help with the changes happening in Information Technology, according to Brenda Majeski, the executive director of Marketing and Communications.

“What led to the decision to out source was that we did not have a site that better serviced our primary users, which are our perspective students, guidance counselors, parents and current students, she added.”

Other collegiate sites attract about three to five times more than the 1,900 visitors St. John’s receives in an average month.

In order to see what St. John’s was missing on its web site, it was compared to 35 institutions, including the Big East colleges, Queens College and several smaller colleges.

“We came to the conclusion that we did not have the internal skills needed to redesign the site and its tools. We were only able to maintain what we had instead of making it better and taking it to the next level,” Majeski said.

“Technology changes very quickly and it’s really easy to get bogged down in the day to day. Navistream cannot afford to be complacent to technology. Their job is to train and keep things current and maintain access to the latest and greatest companies like IBM and Dell.”

In order to have the new web site tested, operable and newly designed by July, Navistream workers will now work with IT workers at St. John’s to address many of the problems with the current internet and in the future.

The designation of certain tasks was one internal problem that has been addressed within the last three weeks since the transition.

“The roles morphed as the needs were dictated. If we needed something done it was like ‘do we have the skills or do we need to go outside?’ but now there is one-point person. By just assigning accountability it has made certain processes more efficient and it has made it easier to get information,” Majeski said.

There are many problems with the web site itself; one being that the site ‘bombards’ its visitors with too much information on its homepage. So much information, that the web team received e-mails from visitors saying they were unable to locate any information.

Webtran, a device that monitors site traffic and how many hits a web site receives, indicated that many visitors did not go past the St. John’s homepage and remained on the site for less than a minute.

“We were like ‘oh we have a problem,'” she said. “And people were like we had a lot of content up there but ‘where do I go, or I try the search function but it can’t find it and I leave.'”

Other problem areas included browser compatibility issues, where some of the St. John’s content was not configured properly to appear in all browsers.

Also many colleges had ‘double-click access’ to information, something St. John’s had not yet reached.

According to Majeski, prioritizing the information on the SJU homepage will help alleviate the information bombardment many visitors experience when they visit the web site.

They will also create a system that promotes easy navigation and the location of information.

“It’s about coming on to the web site and being able to see the information that is relevant to me either as a perspective student or current student,” she said.

“We will deal with the information first and then apply the design.”