UMass website sees improved homepage

By Aviva Luttrell

Students returning to the University of Massachusetts website this semester may notice a change after a recent revamp to the school’s homepage.

Designed to improve navigation and feature more multimedia content, including videos and slideshows, the update was completed over the summer.

“The idea is for it to be sort of a one-stop, get your information here or get links to information elsewhere on campus,” said UMass spokesperson Daniel Fitzgibbons.

The University also launched a redesigned News and Media Relations website alongside the homepage, which combines the former internal news site for faculty and staff, known as “In the Loop,” with the former external news site. A new internal news section, called “Inside UMass,” will replace the previous site.

According to Fitzgibbons, the two sites were redesigned as part of a coordinated plan to improve communication on campus, saying, “I think that what we tried to do was employ the best practices we could find at other schools.”

The homepage, also known as the “gateway,” now features feeds from the University’s news and events sites, as well as links to UMass’s social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

According to Fitzgibbons, the news site, like the gateway, was enhanced to include more multimedia features. He said that this change will allow UMass to better promote campus events.

“It’s a good way for the outside world, including parents and relatives of students, to see the kinds of things that are going on here,” he said.

UMass senior and OIT employee Juliana Van Roggen said that although she doesn’t visit the homepage as frequently as she did when she was an underclassman, she still prefers the new layout to its predecessor.

“I think it’s a lot cleaner,” she said.

Van Roggen said that she particularly liked the “eye-catching” new slideshow feature on the gateway site, saying, “It’s a little bit more engaging.”

Van Roggen did say, however, that she wishes the links to pages such as SPIRE and Moodle in the upper right-hand corner were more noticeable, as they’re often her main reason for visiting the page.

The new websites employ Drupal, which is now the standard operating system across campus.

“In the past we had sort of a hodge-podge of systems that were used. This will make it easier for everybody to maintain their sites if we’re all using the same thing,” Fitzgibbons said.


Aviva Luttrell can be reached at [email protected]