at peak moment, UC Berkeley overhauls its Web site, goes after
top students with new recruiting tool
Kathleen Scalise, Media Relations
-- Offers of university admission are out, high school seniors
are pondering their college choices, and now universities are
vying for the nation's top students.
midnight Sunday (April 16), the University of California, Berkeley,
is unveiling a new recruitment tool- a major overhaul of its
gateway World Wide Web site. The site, at www.berkeley.edu,
is the doorway to the most visited educational Internet domain
in the world.
campus intentionally chose to unveil the site this week - the
peak period for recruitment efforts - in hopes that students
busily cruising college Web sites will linger longer at UC Berkeley's.
an incredibly smart, strategic time to do this," said Andrew
Baldock, central campus Web manager. "While some campuses
might just change a picture or a link, we've launched a whole
new gateway when recruitment is at fever pitch."
the country, admissions officers agree that the right Web site
can make or break student recruiting efforts, according to a
recent story in the Washington Post.
true," said Tony Christopher, senior analyst with the UC
Berkeley Office of Undergraduate Affairs and liaison for the
student committee providing feedback on the site. "Students
can make up their minds based on the information they find on
the Web - or the lack of information."
UC Berkeley admissions staff expects that most admitted students
will have visited the campus's Web page prior to Sunday's launch.
The new version, they hope, will hook curious students more
deeply into the site, causing them to spend extra time considering
a future at UC Berkeley.
won't see flashy colors, animation and high-tech features. Instead,
the site is subtly inviting with warm colors, simply labeled
categories, photos and quick-moving pages.
student advisory committee didn't want a "fancy-shmancy
Web site" with lots of tricks and flash, said Christopher.
"They wanted real information - and a lot of it."
UC Berkeley's gateway is intended "to express a sense of
conviviality," he said. "We're really trying to be
warm and welcoming."
Berkeley has offered admission to the most impressive 25 percent
of its fall 2000 applicants, and this select group "has
lots of options in terms of college choice," said Richard
Black, UC Berkeley acting assistant vice chancellor of admissions
and enrollment. "We have only a month to get out message
out, so the Web has become an extremely important tool to us."
top-to-bottom gateway upgrade also is intended to mark the campus
as a Web-savvy place.
Internet changed the world in less time than it takes to get
a degree," said UC Berkeley web developer Brad Falconer.
"As much as anything, the new home page is about proving
to students that the campus has what it takes to stay at the
a site is "slapped together, and there's not much attention
paid to it, to me it reflects on what my student experience
is likely to be at that university," said Phillip Leclair,
a graduating UC Berkeley senior in economics and student representative
on the campus's lead Web steering committee. "A lot of
thought went into this page."
most insidious Web problem, he said, is often what isn't on
the Web. Students assume if a program, activity or service can't
be found on the Internet, it doesn't exist at a particular university
and make their decisions accordingly. But it may just be a Web
been applying to graduate school, so I've seen a lot of sites,"
Leclair said. "This is the biggest problem out there."
address this concern and maximize the usefulness of the site,
UC Berkeley's new version operates "portal-style"
as an information-intensive resource that runs fast and clean
and offers many ways to reach different resources, Baldock said.
The site also is designed to maximize access for those with
low speed connections and for the disabled, whom the Web developers
worked with extensively.
runs more like some of the top commercial sites than a typical
academic site," Baldock said. He added that the gateway
always will be a work in progress and anticipates a flood of
response Monday. Critiques will be carefully reviewed for ongoing
site's subtle use of technology, without unnecessary sounds,
animation and graphics to clog the flow of information, is a
philosophy also used to develop UC Berkeley's new online tour
that also debuts Sunday. The tour focuses less on a building-by-building
tour, as is the case on many college Web tours, and more on
the unique UC Berkeley experience, said Paula Murphy, UC Berkeley
gateway Web editor.
me, as a student, it shows what you could be doing here every
day," Leclair said of the tour. "It captures the experience
of being here."
because the UC Berkeley Web domain attracts more hits than any
other campus - a statistic cited recently by Media Metrix, a
firm that measures Internet audience -doesn't mean it can rest
on its laurels, Christopher said.
the opposite," he said. "It only means we've given
more people permission to have higher expectations of us. And
we have a vociferous group of students. We like that kind of
student. We pick that kind of student. We want them to come