New website for JMC to be model for university



Jacqueline DeMate

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that the JMC website is the first to dynamically pull content directly from social networks, not the first site to link to social media.

The new website for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) is the first for Kent State to be made in a responsive design format and feature social media components.

The website was a collaborative effort between JMC, University Communications and Marketing (UCM), and Idea Base, a student-run agency in downtown Kent.

Thor Wasbotten, director of JMC, said he began thinking about the new website when he was hired last year. Wasbotten said the old website was difficult to navigate and a lot of people said they did not like it.

“It was the first line of our brand to the outside world, and we had to address that,” Wasbotten said about the website.

Stephanie Smith, the interim coordinator for marketing and media for JMC, is the chair of the committee who created the website.

“We really needed a website that drew new students in, that was photo immersive, had visual pop and made great use of multimedia,” Smith said. “We wanted a responsively designed site so that if you log on, on your smartphone, your laptop, or your Kindle, you could have the same rich experience.”

Responsive design means it fits to any screen size and can be viewed on any device that can access the Internet said Chris Hallahan, interactive designer and developer for UCM.

It was Wasbotten’s idea to be the first school to implement this design in the university. Wasbotten said he had worked with responsive design before and saw the benefit of having a responsive website.

“I challenged our folks, our team, that this is what they needed to do. They did it and they came through,” Wasbotten said. “This was the model for the university, and that’s our goal every day, to be the model in every aspect.”

The JMC website is also the first to directly pull in content from their social media accounts.

Stefanie Moore, assistant professor in JMC and the liaison between JMC, UCM, and Idea Base for the project, set up all of JMC’s social media accounts. Moore said the links allow users to view photos and videos directly from social media sites such as YouTube and Flickr instead of having to access those sites separately.

Hallahan said a lot of research went into the creation of the website, and that student feedback played a big role. The website was tested on two summer JMC classes, Newswriting and Print Beat Reporting, a week before the website’s launch.

Smith said that three specific words kept coming up during the research: respected, relevant and real. She said everyone they had talked to said that they wanted to know the school was respected in its field, has a relevant curriculum and will provide real-world experience. Those three words are prominent on the homepage of the website and are directly linked to information about JMC that shows what the school has to offer.

Wasbotten said he hopes the new website brings a sense of pride to everyone who works in JMC as well as past and current students, and he hopes it allows prospective students to see themselves attending the school.

Contact Jacqueline DeMate at [email protected].