CMC, Meet Web 2.0

Claremont McKenna’s online presence is changing, albeit at less than warp speed. Within the next year, students can expect a new website, new signs, and a smart phone-friendly portal.

Over a year ago, the Forum sat down with Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Richard Rodner. Rodner described CMC as “behind the curve” of developing technology. And in these very same (web)pages, past writers have been highly critical of the schools online presence.

Today's CMC.edu is certainly an improvement from what some seniors might remember from four years ago. The font, design, and functionality are more up to date—though the organization leaves much to be desired.

But despite the minor alterations made in the recent past, the new website—to be launched by before the start of the next academic year—will be a stark change.

“One of the key issues was to find a way to compare ourselves to our peers and have a very different immediate look,” Rodner said.

When one first reaches CMC.edu or ClaremontMcKenna.edu, visitors will be greeted by a soft gold background, and a cartoon-like background of Mount Baldy. At the center of the screen are a handful of images—each one linking to some video, picture, or text. As you scroll your cursor over an image, it gets bigger. Think of iTunes ‘Cover Flow’ and you begin to get an idea. According to Rodner, these images would change on a daily basis.

From this landing page, visitors can go directly to one of the current gateways (Prospective Students, Current Students, Faculty & Staff, and Alumni) or can click through a homepage that looks fairly similar to the current site.  Some fonts, colors, and information boxes may change, but this page will be familiar to most current users. Behind the scenes, though, significant changes will be made to make the site more searchable and user friendly.

While one constant feature throughout the web redesign is the new CMC logo, it is noticeably absent from our campus. Unlike Pitzer, whose new orange signs seem to be everywhere, CMC’s buildings still retain our old imprimatur. But change is coming. Starting with the Biszantz Tennis Center, and then the Kravis Center, new signs will be seen springing up around campus before the fall semester. Until then, only those portable banners are likely to bear the updated design.

Perhaps the most striking change planned is what Rodner called ‘mobile CMC.’ This will not be an app, but rather will be a mobile-friendly portal accessible from all smart phones. This site will likely start out as publically accessible, but CMC plans to add a gated sign-in for greater use. Course schedules, Ath reservations, Collins menus, video, and live athletics scores would be accessible from many students’ phones. One gated service will be an alumni directory, so that graduates can quickly find the means to reconnect.

Progress is being made on these projects, and students should begin to see the fruits of these labors soon. As Rodner put it, “A lot of work has been done, and it’s like climbing Everest and we’re ten feet from the summit, but those last ten feet are hard.”