IT'S BEEN some time in the making – and long overdue, some might say – but UCT will soon boast a brand new website; one that promises, according to the University's web manager, to be more than just a pretty interface.
Working with designers and programmers commissioned from industry, Joey Haasbroek, Manager of Web Development at UCT since January this year, has been hard at work over the past few months putting together a site that serves a range of purposes. "The goal was to develop a website that markets the University professionally, provides all essential information and one that is manageable in the long run," she says.
The latter issue had been an abiding problem in the past, with many departments, specifically academic, not able to set up a site because of a lack of funds or expertise, Haasbroek points out. "What we've tried to do is to come up with a website that has administrative interface where it is easy to update information."
Working with a scripting language known as PHP, the designers have produced a site that is entirely database-driven, she explains. Faculties and departments will be asked to appoint Content Updaters who will be responsible for updating the databases and, in effect, the various web pages.
Given the many budget constraints, the initial focus will be on faculties, and academic and the main support departments.
Academic departments will therefore be able to access a series of templates, based on the respective faculty colours and 'brand', that will make it easy for them to set up sites that contain minimal but essential information, such as contact and programme details. "We've tried to take out of the equation the limiting factors of technical expertise or budget," says Haasbroek.
Departments that do have the means and aptitudes to design and update their own sites, however, would be encouraged to do so, she emphasises.
Over recent weeks, Haasbroek has held information sessions with the senior leadership group and heads of departments to explain the site's information architecture, as well as two demonstrations of the website, currently located at http:/dev.uct.ac.za
. Staff and students are invited have a look at the site, and to email Haasbroek at firstname.lastname@example.org
by August 5 with comments and suggestions.
"The new website is a marked improvement," said Gerda Kruger, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing. "I believe it is at the forefront in terms of functionality, brand management, information architecture and design. It is built to enable us to manage it appropriately and increases our marketing exposure."