After four years — an eternity in cyberspace — the USF Alumni Association Web site has gotten a facelift.
USF Alumni Association President Lisa Lewis said they realized it needed updating several years ago, but the process had a lot of starts and stops and was never completed-until now.
“But perseverance paid off,” she said.
Rita Kroeber, director of communications, knew she had a job to do when she was hired in January.
“When I came on board, there were three graphic-looking fields, and three of these start pages looked different and didn’t look related,” Kroeber said of the association’s home page.
She explained that if visitors went to the Web site from the main USF page, they saw something completely different than if they started at the Alumni Association’s Web site. She said the site is more up-to-date and “visually interesting” than the previous site, launched in 2000.
“We totally reorganized content and navigation. We looked at it from the user’s point of view,” Kroeber said. “A lot of companies fall into their business perspective as opposed to the user’s, whereas we offer our users ways to get connected and get involved.”
“The key was to look at it through the eyes of alumni. That’s part of what drove the changes,” Lewis said.
Changes with which Kroeber was charged included ensuring that the new Web site met USF community standards and kept up with USF traditions. She said everyone was keen to use the site effectively. Now, since the overhaul, users can download the alma mater, the fight song and “Fight Victorious” from the home page.
Kroeber said she directed and managed the process of overhauling the old Web site, but allowed others to give input.
The USF Alumni Association can now be divided into USF graduates by area, international graduates, graduates with common interests or jobs and young alumni, and allows those groups the opportunity to add features to make their pages their own and to attract others on the Web site. They can add opinion polls or send a variety of electronic greeting cards, including the Green and Gold Guys or Rocky the Bull, among other images.
The USF Alumni Association’s e-newsletter provides “Top Ten Reasons to Check Out the Web site,” with number seven advertising the user’s ability to “share your news online by posting your own news–promotions, published works, new additions to your family, etc.”
“Everyone is an ‘owner,'” Kroeber said. “They could keep the kinds of things they think will bring people back.”
Groups could have online scrapbook pictures of their members and keep an online event calendar. The newly updated navigation tools also help, Kroeber said.
“I’m really happy,” Lewis said. “(The new Web site) is far more reflective of our services. It’s easier to navigate, become involved … stay informed and reconnect.”
Lewis, who oversees 180,000 alumni, said the new Web site even meshed better with USF as a whole.
“The marks are up; the colors are matched with the university. We want that look, feel, ease of use to accomplish (our) mission,” Lewis said. “Our whole purpose is to engage.”
The new USF Alumni Association Web site can be viewed at www.USFalumni.net.