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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

New website banner draws complaints from students

With endless possibilities for a website banner, Grinnell’s choice has left a number of students unsatisfied.

Ahead of a major overhaul of the College’s website, smaller changes to the banners of the front page and PioneerWeb have raised concerns among students about the direction the new design of the website.

Director of Communications Kate Worster said that the decision to change the banner was part of an effort to make the website conform to the style of the College’s other publications. “I consider the website to be a part of the College’s publications, and if you look at them, whether they’re from admission, diversity, athletics or so on, they all have the same type of branding,” Worster said.

“If the rest of the publications are like that, then why not the website as well? Plus, many different audiences read our publications, so the branding brings it all together.”

Students have presented concerns about the change to SGA, according to SGA Vice President for Student Affairs John Burrows ’10. “Although students feel they lacked input on the website’s change, I believe change in any direction is better than the seven- year-long status quo,” Burrows said. “It shows that at least we are taking positive steps toward making the website better.”
Ian Atha ’09, a Computer Science major, said he felt changes to the website should undergo testing and feedback periods prior to going public. He suggested the resulting backlash has ensued because minor changes dramatically alter how people experience the website.

“The website is the first thing people see when they want to know about our school nowadays. I think the banner change … makes the mistake of telling people and not showing them,” Atha said. “Instead of telling me Grinnell is a ‘place of endless possibilities,’ I want to see examples of endless possibilities on the website.”

Others, such as Mark Root-Wiley ’09, who has submitted an independent proposal for a new website design, said they felt the new banner has tailored the website to prospective students at the expense of current ones. “Grinnell has always been about the students,” Root-Wiley said. “If the website really wants to show that the College is about the students, there should be more on students and showcasing what they have been doing.”

The complete redesign will not occur until the entire website–every link and file–is converted to the new open source system content management system Drupal.

Drupal provides the College with an online support community, which will allow for more innovation in the future. According to Worster, the conversion has been slowed due to budgetary issues.

“With our system now, we pretty much have to reinvent the wheel every time we want to do something new,” said Worster. “With Drupal, chances are that if we need something newly developed for our system, someone in the online community has already done it, which simplifies things greatly.”

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