CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Franciscan University of Steubenville will unveil its new website Thursday, Nov. 21, said the school’s web communications director during a presentation to students last Friday.
Tom Crowe, who has worked on the university’s website in various capacities since 2008, made the announcement while presenting the new site to a group of about 20 students in the Gentile Gallery.
“This is a perfect example of how different parts of the university can come together to work on something great,” Crowe said, commenting on the hard work put in by several people and departments, including current students, over the past year.
The launch of the new site on Thursday comes more than one year since the university’s most recent attempt to update it. In September 2018, the new website was quickly met with criticism from students and others, leading to its removal and replacement with a previous version soon after.
This time around, however, the new website promises to be much more appealing.
Crowe displayed five webpages from the new site to the students and explained some reasons for the design created. One of its biggest highlights is the new site’s faster loading time.
“It’s estimated that 60% of visitors to any website won’t stick around if it takes more than 10 seconds to load, which is a problem with the current site,” Crowe said. “The new site will load in two to three seconds on a slow connection and less than one second on a computer that has visited it before.”
While Franciscan University’s website is used by many audiences — current students, faculty, staff and parents — its primary audience has been and will continue to be prospective students. Therefore, the new website has been primarily designed to engage them, Crowe said.
On the home page, a search bar will allow people to type in the major into which they’re looking and see results as they type. There will also be an opportunity to look at Franciscan University’s entire degree offerings.
Each degree has its own webpage, complete with information about the program, alumni profiles, information about the department faculty and a “Beyond the Classroom” section featuring extracurriculars related to the program, such as the Christians for Free Enterprise club for business majors.
Also included will be a link to learn more about the Austria Program.
“This could be the first time people hear about Franciscan and see what we’re about,” Crowe said. “Austria is such an important part of the Franciscan experience that we wanted to be sure to include it as much as we could.”
Other features of the website will be a “Happening at Franciscan” page with upcoming events; a page for the John Paul II Library, including a search engine tied directly to the library’s catalogue; and more.
While the new site is expected to launch Thursday, Crowe said people shouldn’t be worried if they experience some difficulties right out of the gate.
“That’s going to happen with any website launch,” he said. “There’s always going to be problems that need to be fixed. People just have to be sure to let me know because I don’t always catch everything.”
The majority of students in attendance were members of Student Government. After Crowe’s presentation, President Derek Markle said he wasn’t disappointed in any way by the new design.
“Aesthetically, the website looks a million times better than I’ve ever seen it,” Markle said. “I’m excited to see the nitty-grittiness of it and go through all the different updates we’ve made.”
Chief Justice Billy Chester agreed, saying, “This is exactly the kind of branding Franciscan should be doing. Enrollment is always an issue, so I think having a website geared toward that is a good idea.”