Nearing launch, SU site ‘more alive’

| Staff Reporter

After three months of recoding and redesigning, Student Union’s new Web site is set to go live.

This is the first redesign of the Student Union (SU) Web site in four years. The new site is expected to serve as a more dynamic, user-friendly resource for SU members and group leaders alike.

“It’s a more dynamic, flowing site,” senior Tim Trinidad, the site’s webmaster, principle coder and designer, said. “It’s more alive.”

Junior Jeff Nelson, SU vice president of administration, feels that the Web site’s best feature will be its consolidation of the many resources previously offered on the site, which will now be accessible in a more user-friendly and effective manner.

“I’m most excited just about how streamlined everything’s going to be,” Nelson, who both initiated and directed the site’s renovation, said. “I think that’s going to be a huge deal.”

The site will also offer several new features, many of which will be of particular interest to student group leaders. For example, many forms that student group presidents and treasurers previously had to submit on paper can now be submitted electronically, a method that Nelson says will make filing paperwork a simpler process for all parties involved.

According to Nelson, all student group-related forms that do not require signatures or money are on target to be online by the end of the semester, with the exception of treasurers’ expense reports, which he hopes will be able to be submitted electronically by the beginning of next year.

“The goal with this site is to move to a completely paperless system,” Nelson said.

Other student group processes will also be consolidated into the site, such as groups’ publicizing of events.

When an SU-budgeted student group event is approved, for example, the event will automatically be added to the Link, the University’s new student group Web interface.

The site will also offer a new blog feature that will allow SU leaders to communicate their positions on current issues by writing blog entries that will be accessible to the entire student body.

“I’m really excited about the blog aspect of the site,” Nelson said. “I think it’s going to make SU seem more humanized and make us be more transparent.”

Another defining feature of the site is the user-friendliness of its coding. When Trinidad began coding the site while studying abroad in China last summer, he put forth an extra effort to program it in such a way that it could be more easily updated than the last site.

“The previous site was created and then abandoned,” Trinidad said. Trinidad hopes the architecture of the new site will be more adaptable to the work of future webmasters so that it will not have to be rebuilt from scratch.

Trinidad’s own reworking is the third major renovation of the site since SU began its online presence in 2000. The most recent renovation took place in 2004, when SuSTAC was introduced.

Nelson says that the role of SU webmaster could transform in coming years into one more focused on the upkeep of student groups’ Web sites, because the new site will not only be easier for future SU webmasters to update but also will be simpler for them to operate. Trinidad sees the site itself expanding into the future, and being more attractive to the average student who is not involved in SU’s processes.

“I’m hoping that it’ll eventually become easy enough that people who aren’t involved with SU will start looking at the site for information,” he said.

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