Text Box: For the past two years, NEIU has been engaged in a project to develop a new Web site. The project began in 2002 with research conducted by Brightline Media. They analyzed the existing architecture and navigation systems, conducted on-line surveys and focus group interviews with faculty, students and administrators, and tracked traffic through the site for a month.
The research provided valuable data about the current and desired uses of the NEIU Web site. It captured the opinions of many site visitors who complained that the site is difficult to navigate because its architecture reflects the University's organizational structure. In order to find Web pages for a department or an office, a site visitor must know the college to which that department belongs or the vice-presidential area to which an office reports.
In July 2003, the University issued a Request for Proposal seeking a firm to help redesign the Web site. The successful bidder was Ripple Effects Interactive (REI) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a firm with extensive experience designing Web sites for higher education clients.
The primary strategic objective for the Web redevelopment project is to build an audience-centric Web site, one that reflects the needs and interests of site users. Second, we must make it easier for NEIU staff charged with maintenance of Web pages to update site content. As part of the project, content management systems will be evaluated to find one that best meets the University's needs. Finally, the site will focus on presenting a more complete image of NEIU's quality, affordability and accessibility.
To accomplish these objectives, we must approach our various target audiences in a manner that meets their mind-set and information needs. The navigation scheme and search tools should speak to audiences who are likely to approach our Web site in one of three ways.
Who am I? Visitors using the site in this way want to define their relationship with the university – “I am a prospective student evaluating if NEIU is right for me" – and then receive information tailored to their expressed interests.
What do I need? These visitors come to the site with a specific question in mind – "When do summer classes start?” – and expect to find the answer very quickly. These are people most likely to use the site's search engine.
Where am I going? While these visitors may come to the site looking for specific information, they are more inclined to follow the navigational structure to find it. Their route to the summer school start date, in other words, will follow the menu and navigational choices they are offered on each page.
With these objectives and types of visitors in mind, REI has begun a process to facilitate the site redesign project. During the week of January 26, REI representatives conducted 21 focus group interviews with faculty, staff, students and administrators to gain a more detailed understanding of the University's goals for a new Web site. Based on these interviews, REI will present its preliminary recommendations for site architecture and navigation to the Web Redevelopment Committee.
The members of the committee, which I chair, include:
Brad Baker - Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources
Tony Carlsen - Webmaster
Diane Ehrlich – Professor, Educational Leadership & Development
Rhonda Eisenberg – Marketing & Communications
Danny Gonzalez – Student Government Association appointee
Janice Harring-Hendon – Executive Director, Enrollment Services
Joe Hermanek –Physics; Vice-president of Civil Service Council
Marshall Jennings – Director, Financial Aid
David Jonaitis – Associate VP, Financial and Administrative Affairs
Jim Lucas – Professor, Music 
Shahrzad Mahootian – Associate Professor, Linguistics
Mark McKernin – Professor, Art, representing the Faculty Senate Technology Committee
Carlos Melian –Library; A&P Council representative

Clearly, redeveloping the NEIU Web site is a big project that impacts the entire campus. We will keep the campus community informed of the project's progress. I encourage you to talk with members of the committee, ask them questions about the process and the progress of the site redevelopment effort.

Redeveloping the NEIU Web Site

Terry M. Bush, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications