We’re thrilled to announce the full, working beta version of OSU’s new home page, ready to test drive for the next two weeks before it replaces the “vintage” site. In mid-May, we’ll replace the old site with the new beta. For those of you with a sentimental outlook on the old site, we’ll keep it available for a few more weeks.

The new page has a host of added features and functionality, so watch this video for a short tour. David Barner, Assistant Director of Web Communications, will take you through some of the highlights. And please take some time to explore on your own. Expect to see more features and enhancements over the coming months. Leave your feedback in the comments on this post. Or contact web.communcations[at]oregonstate[dot]edu.

The team working on OSU’s home page redesign project has made some great strides in the past few months, and we’re excited to be sharing the results of this work with you soon. Web Communications teamed up with Central Web Services on the design and development, with as many as 15 developers at a time coding on the project. After several long working sessions, we came up with a detailed plan for the process and technical architecture.

We decided to clearly separate content, design and code. Since we use Drupal for most of our content management on campus, this system was the natural selection for managing the home page. (As a side note, we’re managing our top-tier sites and our home page content in a single install). This also allows content experts around campus to directly contribute material to the home page.

But we still need some oversight in what content actually makes it to the university’s front door on the Web. This led us to formalize the approval process for home page content. Thus the new control panel was born. It allows us to pull content from the Drupal on a per region basis (see the wireframe to see how regions are defined). An additional benefit is the ability to fully preview the home page before anything goes live — something we currently can’t do. Once everything looks great in the preview, Web Communications staff can publish new content to the live page.

The control panel accomplishes all of this via cached HTML files. These files are great for optimizing performance and increasing the dependability of the home page because the Drupal database doesn’t have to be queried every time the page is viewed.

There has been a lot of hard work on this project so far, but more elements remain. In the next few weeks, we are focusing on making the page fully accessible, ensuring it works consistently in multiple browsers, improving performance and removing as many bugs as we can catch. Watching the mock-up come alive has been a very exciting process. We have less than a month left before the new page goes live, and we can’t wait to see it in action. Look for a live beta version in early May, and a public launch later in the month.