New School Website just needs some getting used to

Change is good. The College’s new Web site is even better.

I distinctly remember when Wooster’s revamped site was first launched. People could not handle it. Everyone was running around acting like the desk chairs had been pulled from underneath them. Links were in the wrong place, the graphics were too campy and took longer to load, meal plan info was too hard to find, etc.

This change seems very much akin to when Facebook launched their current version. The creators warned users far in advance of the changes, and gave people the chance to try it out before we had to commit to the new version. But when the company finally made the changes permanent, panic ensued.

Opposition was formed from all angles. The most common was status updates — “Tim Nobama hates the new Facebook.” “Sandy Stuborn is sticking with old Facebook 4eva.” There were also events created to sign petitions against it. Groups that formed solely to bash the changes provoked lively (and sometimes disproportionately intense) debates. A host of irate users sent letters of disapproval to the creators of Facebook.

But — at least to my knowledge — even the most obstinate of us eventually pulled out heads out of the sand and admitted that contrary to the initial belief, new Facebook might actually be better than the older version. Surprise! The creators didn’t want to confuse us, they were actually making the site more user-friendly in the long run.

The school’s new Web site operates in much the same fashion. While right now it might seem a little confusing, it’s most likely going to be more easily maneuvered in the long run. The only downside it that it does take two clicks to get to most of the sites that current students use. But everything is in the same place after that initial click —ScotMail, ScotWeb, Woodle, the libraries; every link we ever really use is right there.

A few people have made the observation that the home page looks a little desperate – like the administration tried so hard to make it look compelling that it appears cluttered. I concede that point. When scrolling over pictures and icons on the home page, they are so close together that it’s hard to position the mouse over any particular icon without accidentally pulling up another. But it’s not really a big deal, since, as current students, we don’t have to deal with that home page anyway. And prospective students and their parents probably like it.

One problem that I personally have is that the pictures we have up of students are not current. Now, this wouldn’t necessarily be a issue with incoming students since they don’t know the difference between a student who is currently enrolled in the college and someone who graduated 50 years ago, but in a school of 1,800 students, it’s a little unnerving to look on the site and recognize no one. Part of the draw for a small school is being able to actually recognize people as they pass by. Maybe I’m being juvenile, but I would really like to see some people online that I know and can be proud of.

And what happened to the profiles of seniors and their I.S. projects? That should be something more prominently displayed, since many people cite it as a major reason for choosing to attend our school.

Overall, I have no real complaint with the new Web site. The designers did a good job, and they’ve even put up a little blurb asking to be e-mailed with complaints/comments at webmaster@wooster.edu. So if you don’t like something, tell them! It might still feel like the desk chair’s been pulled out from underneath us, but who cares? It’s been replaced with a cushioned armchair.