Mac's new website gets mixed reviews

By Anna Nassiff

The Macalester website’s new makeover is getting mixed reviews around campus.The website underwent a substantial visual and structural redesign over the summer, emerging with a new color scheme, an updated architecture, and a front page geared more toward prospective than current students.

“Really, there’s no significant part of the website that hasn’t been touched by this project,” said Amy Phenix, Macalester’s Director of Communications and Public Relations. “As technology and requirements change, we need to keep up with those changes.”

Among the most immediately noticeable changes in the website is the color scheme, which has switched from green and tan to the purple and orange palette used in admissions materials.

“It’s really aimed at prospective students,” said Anna Frye ’11, who preferred the old site. She also finds the new site more difficult to navigate.

“We knew the old website, and they changed it,” she said.

Assistant Dean of Admissions Nancy Mackenzie acknowledged that the new website caters more to prospective students than current students.

“It is increasingly important that the Macalester website accurately and effectively help prospective students get to know the college,” she said in an e-mail. “Much of the content previously found only in the admissions section has been featured and spread throughout the site; and new content has been developed with prospective students as the target audience.”

Phenix noted that the new site is aimed at prospective students because they’re the ones who will explore it most, while current students tend to use the same few resources.

“[Current students] look for really functional things,” she said. She added that the website renovation has included benefits for current students, too.

“We’ve significantly improved the search engine, which should hopefully be really helpful for people,” said Phenix. “We didn’t used to have a search box on every single page.”

Phenix also felt that the campus community will warm up to the new website.

“I think it’s going to take the campus community some time to get used to, but I feel pretty strongly we’ve researched a lot of best practices and looking at what websites are offering, and I think as people get used to it really is a better product,” she said.

For many returning students, though, the lack of a one-click link to 1600Grand from Macalester’s homepage makes it somewhat obsolete.

“It wasn’t that useful before, and now it’s not useful at all,” said Harry McAlister,’11.

Students can still access 1600Grand in two-clicks from the homepage by clicking on the “more” tab in the top right corner of the page and scrolling down to the “1600Grand” link.

“I would encourage the campus community to take time and explore the site, said Phenix. “We welcome feedback.