Pitt to Unveil New Website for University During December Holiday Break

Issue Date: 
December 3, 2012

A newly renovated and upgraded University of Pittsburgh Web site will be launched during the upcoming holiday break. Developed and managed by the University Marketing Communications (UMC) Department in the Office of Public Affairs, the site will feature a new design, easier navigation, richer content, and other updates.

The UMC Web team has collaborated with teams of stakeholders around the University and conducted focus groups, usability exercises, and an online survey in order to identify critical content needs and navigation preferences. The resulting top-level pages, including the home page, landing pages reached directly from the home page navigation, and numerous support pages will be the new online public face of the University.

A technical feature of the new site is “responsive design,” which adjusts automatically to any size screen, from mammoth desktops, to laptops, i-pads of any size, and the smallest of phones. The material on the page will reorganize itself accordingly for ease of use.

“Although the Pitt Web site has been incrementally improved over the years with tweaks here and there, this latest effort does more than give the house a fresh coat of paint; this is a major reconstruction of our online home,” noted Robert Hill, Pitt vice chancellor for public affairs. “Our Web presence increasingly will become the centerpiece of Pitt’s communications mix, and the Pitt stories, news, information sources, and visitor interactions are all better served by this comprehensive enhancement.”

One user-friendly feature—audience navigation for students, prospective students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni—collects information of particular interest to those respective groups for quick and easy access to the material. The faculty-audience page, for example, contains 89 helpful links, plus a list of administrative offices. Elsewhere on the site is a comprehensive list of Pitt faculty members elected to prestigious academies, societies, and institutes. 

Among the needs identified by prospective students was an easy way to learn which majors and fields of study are offered at Pitt. A new feature of the site, therefore, is a search function for areas of study by key words including the thousands of terms one might use. On the student life page, students have made videos describing elements of Pitt life, including traditions, landing internships, and the Outside the Classroom cocurricular experience.

The new site also fully integrates the news, research, and education  achievements of the health sciences with the other academic areas of the University.

Another improvement is an updated and expanded campus photo tour, with specialty tours of laboratories, residence halls (with many interior views and links to floor plans and rates), the Cathedral of Learning, and sustainability-related features—295 photographs in all.

A “Global” landing page depicts the University’s worldwide commitment to preparing every student to thrive in a closely connected world. The Global page includes an interactive world map that aggregates Pitt programs, study abroad locations, descriptions of international research by faculty members, international agreements, and UPMC facilities involving Pitt faculty and staff around the world. This content presents a one-stop source of information for both internal and external audiences.

Throughout the project, members of UMC’s Web team worked closely with Pitt faculty, students, and staff members to create the new content. To keep the content fresh, UMC will work with CIDDE photographers and a network of staff members who have been designated as content providers for each of the landing pages.

“The UMC Web team’s ambition in this project was to take Pitt’s Web site from its current state to state-of-the-art,” Associate Vice Chancellor for University Marketing Communications and National Media Relations Maddy Ross said. “The elegance of the design, the sophistication of the architecture, and the robust content will now properly reflect Pitt’s stature as one of the finest and most productive research universities in the world.”