News Content System Gets a Facelift

July 24, 2001

by Colin M. Witt

Baylor's News & Events web site has a new look -- and several new features as well.

On July 24, Baylor's public relations staff introduced a new system for presenting and managing the news content of this web site, making it easier to update and more friendly to use. Older stories are being migrated into the new system over the next few days.

The most obvious change is to the look of the site. Information such as today's events and the top news headlines is now available on every story page, in a series of boxes at the right side of each page. This means it's even easier to navigate the site, and users will always be able to see the most current items.

Also in the special content boxes is a search engine, which searches all stories on the site. Another box provides links to several feature web sites that are maintained through the public relations office.

The site now features a new content system. Previously, the news items were divided into features and news releases. Now, every news item is a story, and stories can appear in the feature area or in the boxes on the right side.

One other advantage of this new system is that feature stories are now updated directly by our media relations staff, without needing special attention from our web programmers. That means content can be updated more easily and frequently.

Browsing through some of the stories, users will notice that some stories have extra boxes in the area at the right. These boxes are specific to each story, and are designed around three primary areas: related links, photos, and multimedia items.

Related links can be easily assigned to a story, providing easier paths to more indepth information found elsewhere in Baylor's web presence. For instance, a story about a new degree program can have links to the departmental web sites mentioned.

Photos have typically been reserved for feature items, but with the new photo boxes, they can be assigned to any story. Some stories with many photos can be reclassified as photo feature items, with more photos available in the story body.

Multimedia items are showing up more and more on the web site, because we are always looking for ways to take advantage of the technologies of the web in our communications efforts. So look for more audio and video clips in the future associated with stories.

The new system also incorporates two other major changes: an expanded category system and an enhanced events section.

The expanded categories can be applied to stories, so that users can visit the story archives and see a listing of stories in a particular area. Custom front page designs can be established for a particular category ... look for these in the future.

The This Week @Baylor calendar has also been tied into the same category system, and the same content management system as well. This means it's easier to find events that you want to know about, and it's easier for Baylor to keep them updated.

So what's next?

In August, a new feature will be added to the News & Events web site. We call it "My Baylor News."

My Baylor News is your chance to decide which categories of stories you want to see on our site. Categories that you select will appear higher on the front page. We'll also be able to see what categories are most important to you, so we can work to provide more content in those areas.

My Baylor News also includes the option to receive our new Baylor eNews, an email newsletter that is delivered every two weeks or so during the school year.

By selecting certain categories of news, users can tell us just what they want to know about, and even select whether they want to receive an HTML-based message or a plain text one.

Current eNews subscribers will receive a message explaining how this system will be activated for them, but anyone will be welcome to subscribe.

We hope you enjoy the new features of this site. Please let us know what you think. You can send email to Colin_Witt@baylor.edu.

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