College Revamps Website

Maegan Nelson

Last week Whitman updated its website to an improved content management system through the software company Ingeniux. The company was founded in 1999 by alumnus Jim Edmunds ’78, who¬†has been working closely with Director of Communications Ruth Wardwell and Online Content Manager¬†Phil Thompson on these changes.

“The primary reason [for the change] is that the system we had been using was old and outdated and … required far more work to make it functional than was really feasible. It had been customized in so many ways to meet individual needs but not [universal ones]. The new system will provide a lot more function universally, and some departments can take advantage of certain aspects of the Content Management System, or CMS,” said Wardwell.

“Every department has its own set of pages. Right now about half of our departments run their own sites, and the other half call me when something needs to change. But when they want anything remotely technical, like a video or a slideshow, they have always had to call me. In the new system, I can train people really quickly to put media in their page,” said Thompson.

For college websites, embedding media is extremely important. According to Edmunds, some of the largest websites that his company serves are college websites.

“We have more than 200 colleges using our content management system,” he said.

The new web system allows more people throughout the college to independently manage their website content. In addition, the system allows the college to be more connected with their content.

“Content reuse is something that we will be able to do, making use of articles and profiles of people or programs elsewhere on the website,” said Thompson. “So for example, if a student has a great basketball game, is also an exhibitor in the Whitman Undergraduate Conference and is going abroad to Switzerland, then articles on all three of those topics might become connected. So once we start tagging all our content, the new system will let us reuse things, so that people in different parts of the college can use content other people have generated.”

In order to make these changes possible, the architecture of the whole web page had to be redesigned. Things now fall into logical categories which will make it easier for outside users to find content and navigate the website. In addition, Edmunds said, it’s vital that the new website be accessible on mobile devices.

“In the next few years, people will be using their mobile devices as well as laptops to browse, and it is important that we are delivering content to different channels like that,” said Edmunds.

In the future, the communication and technical departments would like to get the new webpage up and running with minimal problems. The website will continue to evolve as technology does.

“Whitman will always strive to stay on the leading edge to the best of our ability, and for web content that means serving the needs of our internal and external audiences. Jim Edmunds is extraordinary and I think that it puts a smile on my face to know that a Whitman [alumnus] is the creator of this system that is being used by more and more colleges,” said Wardwell.

According to Edmunds, his Whitman education helped him obtain the skills he needed for his successful business venture.

“Whitman College was a really formative experience, and I think that liberal arts colleges in general provide foundational analytical skills which are important to business,” he said.