College updates its website to strive for mobile-friendliness

by Emily Tanaka / Beacon Correspondent • March 17, 2016

Emerson made its website more mobile-friendly to appeal to prospective students, who are more likely to access the site on their phones than on desktops, according to Jason Beals, director of web services.

The college launched the previous version of the site in 2010. At the time, Beals said, they were more concerned with desktop users.

“What we wanted to do [now] is make Emerson.edu mobile,” Beals said. “The easiest way to do that was take the work done on [the ELA site] and adapt that.”

Beals said the ELA pages, while part of Emerson's main website, have always had a different look. In 2015, the college contracted a web design firm called Echo & Co. to help design the site for the program.

The website’s navigation feature was also improved, according to Beals. He said users often use Google to find Emerson-related content, even though the search bar on the website is also powered by the search engine. The new design has a larger native search bar that Beals said he hopes will increase its use.

Emerson is currently in the midst of its first comprehensive rebranding initiative since 2004. One goal of the project is to update the website, though Beals said this redesign is unrelated.

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president for communications and marketing and leader of the rebranding initiative, said in an interview that this new interface is a mobile-friendly placeholder. The website will be revamped completely in either fall 2017 or spring 2018, according to Tiedemann.

“We said, ‘Let’s give the website a refresh now, since we’ll be relying on it for at least 18 months going forward,’” Tiedemann said.

Tiedemann said that this update is not yet complete. Over the next eight weeks, he said the college will be replacing a lot of the photos on the website to better reflect the campus’ current look.

Iris Raiken, a sophomore visual and media arts major, said she likes that the new design is simpler. But she said it’s more confusing to navigate.

“When I saw the website when I was applying to the college, it looked a little more professional,” Raiken said. “It wasn’t as modern, but it made it easier for me to navigate. I don’t think [the temporary site] lives up to the expectations Emerson has with what they can do with media and web design.”