For nearly eight years, the Andover.edu website has remained relatively unchanged as Andover itself continues to adapt and develop. In an attempt to address the demands of the changing school, a group of Andover staff members from the Shuman Office of Admissions, the Office of Information and Technology, and Summer Session and Outreach, are leading an effort to streamline navigation on the site and provide a means for prospective students and their families to learn more about various programs and events at Andover.
The Andover website, which is currently the school’s primary digital outlet for sharing campus news and links to important application or registration forms, has remained mostly unchanged since it was designed.
“After a successful redesign of Andover’s admission catalog and viewbook [that were] published this fall, it makes strategic sense that our main digital publication, the public website, would follow,” wrote Tracy Sweet, Director of Academy Communications, in an email to The Phillipian.
“Since [the last time the website was updated], we have refreshed some of our upper-level pages and built a handful of custom sites to support priorities, such as the Strategic Plan, the Tang Institute, the Sykes Wellness Center, and athletics,” said Sweet.
Andover has partnered with New York-based Brooklyn United, a digital agency that specializes in website design and user experience, to assist with the redesign process.
“We’ve been working with Brooklyn United to… get an idea for what we want out of our new website, what each different department needs and what the different prevailing attitudes are about what our website does and does not accomplish right now,” said Beth Friedman, Director of Outreach and Summer Session.
Friedman said that students and teachers will also be able to provide input and test out parts of the new website as they are created. Specifically, removing the drop-down menus that appear when users hover over titles on the website, and focusing more on the search bar tool instead.
“When we get into the actual specifics of development, there will be lots more opportunities for everyone on campus to weigh in… There’s also going to be user testing where we recruit people to test out the website and we do things like track their eyes and see where they click and all of those things that can identify to us what a more appropriate setup will be,” she said.
“I think some of the things people are going to be excited about is one, we want to make some of our content less redundant and more relevant. We want to be able to highlight news and information for students, we want calendars to be more readily accessible showing what all is going all across campus. And we want that to be more user friendly, more design friendly, and look less like it was built in 1997 and more like it was built in 2016,” continued Friedman.
Some students have already expressed their displeasure with aspects of the current website that they hope will be addressed in the redesign.
“I dislike how old a lot of the photos [look] once you get off of the home page because it just makes the website seem stagnant,” said Paige Morss ’17.
“I know when I was applying to Andover, I went on that section and saw all the different clubs but that’s [no longer] updated. They also need to work on explanation [of extracurriculars] for students applying to Andover so they know what’s going on,” said Allison Zhu ’19.
The redesign will also focus specifically on the appearance of the site from the perspective of families interested in Andover.
“Some families may not have the opportunity to visit campus before their child applies. The website serves as a welcoming gateway – a digital front door – for students considering whether Andover may be a good educational fit,” said Sweet.
The website redesigning will begin later this winter and continue through the spring. Leaders of the project are hopeful the redesign will be complete when the 2017-2018 academic year commences in September.
“I don’t want to overpromise. I think none of us want to overpromise, but we would like this website to launch for next fall. That means development needs to happen over the next six months,” said Friedman.