As we've been working on redesigning the main website for Grinnell College, they asked us if we'd be interested in guest blogging as we went along. Below is our first post:
Thank you for letting us introduce ourselves and talk a little about the design process for the new Grinnell College website. Rogue Element was founded 14 years ago with a mission to use graphic design problem-solving to more effectively communicate our clients' stories, and we think that this blog is the perfect place to start.
We recently received an interesting question regarding the relationship between Griswold College, in Davenport, IA, and Grinnell College, and whether Grinnell had ever been called Griswold. We had never heard of such a direct relationship between the two institutions, which made it an intriguing question and a fun, albeit brief, research project. As some of you may know, Grinnell College began its existence as Iowa College and was founded in Davenport in 1846 by a group of missionaries from Massachusetts who called themselves the Iowa Band.
The Sloan Consortium
Newburyport, Ma., United States
August 3, 2012
Dr. Kuiper's creative and engaging games and labs exemplify reform efforts in Statistics Education, and she is highly deserving of a MERLOT Classics Award.
While we were spending a lot of time on the back-end of our web management, our site grew, organically, freely, and not necessarily coherently. So we decided to take the next, long overdue step: to look what the actual user experience. Normally, people are scared of the audits and the consequences they might bring. We were different. We were begging for our audit. We wanted someone with hands on, real world experience to look at our site and the ways we use it.
We assembled a big representative committee with representatives of students, faculty and staff, looked at several systems, from proprietary to open-source, from commercial to free, and discussed the possibilities on Wiki as well as with vendors that were invited to present their systems. Finally, we chose Drupal, a popular open-source CMS.
There are some peculiar challenges in building a college website. One of the biggest is the fact that colleges—and thus college sites—have to serve multiple constituencies.
Most commercial sites appeal to a single group: customers. Ford.com is for people who want to buy vehicles. NBC.com is for people who like Law & Order spinoffs. Gin up a good market-research team and you can research the daylights out of your audience, then build to suit.
On my second day at the archives, I pulled open a drawer that was literally overflowing with event posters from the last 50 years of Grinnell's Art and Music departments. Many of these were stunning, either hand drawn or beautifully printed. Some of my favorites are below, and if we accomplish nothing else this year, let's bring back the Renaissance Feast.