Web Makeover Update

We are writing to give you an update on where things stand with the web makeover project.

We are still on-schedule for a January launch of the new Web site. To get there, here’s what we’re doing this summer.

1. We are putting together a list of Web sites that need to be converted, and identifying the people in charge of those Web sites in order to connect them with a project manager from the project team who will guide them through the process of converting their site to the new platform. To support this process, we are also planning a series of workshops, training sessions, and work sessions. We are also developing a workbook that will help explain the process. The list of sites that we know need converting, and our understanding of who the contact person for that site is, can be found here. If you have a Web site that isn’t on that list, please let us know by sending email to jantonio@middlebury.edu.

2. Our design firm White Whale will share with us their designs for the new site on July 23rd, at McCullough Hall, 1pm.  If you aren’t on campus, we will be providing instructions to view the presentation online.  In addition, we’ll be posting links to these designs on the makeover blog. (For those who might be interested, you can see the preliminary designs for the Monterey Institute for International Studies).

We will need your help on both these efforts. For the Web site conversion, we’ll need each office, department, program, and group that maintains a Web site to carve out time in the coming months to think about their Web site and what they want to do to improve it. For the review of the designs, we very much welcome input from the community about the designs that White Whale provides us. It’s our Web site, and while we won’t all agree on the final design, we want to have an inclusive, rigorous, and thoughtful conversation about the ideas proposed.

Best wishes,

Mike Roy, on behalf of the Web Makeover Team

Unveiled homepage mockups for miis.edu

Design Mockups

Without further ado, I present the design mockups for the homepage of miis.edu. Click anywhere on the mockups to see multiple views (expanded navigation menus, etc.).

Design 1: Horizon

Horizon homepage mockup


  • Horizon line header image that rotates on a regular basis; creates a sense of place yet also implies that the work done at MIIS is global and transcends physical boundaries
  • Blowout navigation menus that serve up dynamic content and stories

Design 2: Themes

Themes homepage mockup


  • Thematic pages that aggregate content from across disciplines that is related to a common theme
  • Incorporation of the Institute’s tagline

Things to Keep in Mind

  • These color palettes are not final; White Whale’s idea was to create an array of colors that aren’t used in flags.
  • Representing Middlebury on the site is both necessary and complicated; White Whale has suggested a few alternate names for OneMidd, but utilized the term OneMidd in both of these mockups.
  • We really like the aesthetics and dynamism of the first design and the thematic approach of the second design; the folks at White Whale are looking into creating a design that will combine the aesthetics of the first design with the themes from the second design.

What Do You Think?

Please take a look at both of the proposed designs and leave feedback in the comments. Be specific; we want to hear about elements you like or dislike and why.

On-line directory desiderata

The College is going to stop printing the directory, beginning this Fall. We are doing so for obvious reasons: to save money, to save considerable staff time (a form of money), and to lower our carbon footprint. In conversations leading up to this decision, many people had many very fond things to say about the printed directory, and will mourn this loss. As we head into the design phase of the web makeover project, this seems like a great opportunity to try to understand exactly what is it about the printed directory that is superior to the on-line directory, since we will be modifying the on-line directory as part of the overall makeover.

Here’s what we’ve heard so far about what the print directory does better than the on-line directory

  1. It allows you to quickly scan through the staff of a department to figure out who is responsible for what, and provides general contact information for a department.
  2. It allows you to easily find someone’s home phone number, unlike the online directory where home phone numbers are only viewable if the person wants to show them and has taken the extra step to set their configuration on the Change Information form.
  3. It allows you to look up the hometown for a student.
  4. It allows you to look up the on-campus address for a student.
  5. It identifies the chair and academic coordinator for each academic department.
  6. It allows you to limit your search to just students, or just faculty/staff.
  7. It can be used when you aren’t near a computer.

This is just a preliminary list of issues that a new design would need to address; we are posting this as a means of encouraging those of you who worry about the loss of the printed directory to let us know what we can do to make the on-line directory as good, or even better!, than the printed directory. Please use the comments on this post to record your thoughts. (And include examples of other great directories if you happen to know of them.)

White Whale Unveils the new MIIS website design

On Tuesday, June 9th, at 4pm (1pm PST), White Whale will be presenting a new design for the Monterey Institute of International Studies website.  People at Middlebury can participate in the unveiling in two ways.

Join us in Library 201, where we will show the unveiling in the classroom.


Log into the Elluminate session using the instructions here: https://mediawiki.middlebury.edu/wiki/MIIS/Website_Unveiling

Please join us as we take a look at the first design in the Web makeover process.

What is Middlebury?

… and in the context of the Web Makeover, how does Middlebury present itself to the rest of the world on a global platform, at a time where we are re-organizing and redefining ourselves?  Can the website’s homepage answer these questions?

Dates through the summer

Below are the milestone dates for the Web Makeover up until the launch of the Monterey site.  Plan your summer accordingly!

May 13, White Whale delivers Monterey top-level IA recommendations
May 21, Monterey accepts top-level IA
May 18, White Whale delivers Strategic Recommendations
May 28, White Whale delivers Monterey complete site map
May 29, Middlebury acceptance of Strategic Recommendations
June 1, DIY ‘workbook’ for Review & Revision of IA & Content
June 3, White Whale delivers Graphic Standards
June 7, Middlebury responds to Graphic Standards
June 9, White Whale delivers Monterey design
June 23, Monterey homepage design finalized
June 30, White Whale delivers Monterey Content Recommendations
July 15, Middlebury delivers 400 stories
July 8, White Whale delivers designs for all Monterey templates
July 17, White Whale delivers top-level IA Recommendations
July 23, White Whale delivers Middlebury design
August 15, Live beta-launch of Monterey site
September 1, Middlebury finalizes homepage (+ top-tier) designs
September 1, Monterey site launches

Strategic Recommendations

We have received the Strategic Recommendations from White Whale, suggestions for large ideas that we should be paying attention to during the Web Makeover project.  The document will also be available here (MIDD username and password required to download)  Below, you will find the coordinating group’s initial thoughts, shared below.

Please feel free to address comments to White Whale and the makeover group, the web makeover group alone, individuals in the groups, or the blog as you deem appropriate.  We will be gathering comments until Tuesday, May 26th, at noon.

What is Middlebury?

The response to this question from White Whale resonated with many of us, especially the statement: “the root of the Middlebury brand, its source and ongoing inspiration, is the community culture, lived daily experience, and personality of Middlebury’s undergraduate students.”

Middlebury’s components and the Middlebury homepage

“The homepages of the component institutions should be the primary channels of communication for those institutions.” – this makes sense, and may generate some good discussion.  We agree that the homepage does not need to tell the whole story, and like the idea of engaging users by telling the story “over time.”

Technology independence and the importance of writing

Appreciated the focus of writing as the key component to a great site. Also agree that we should not rely on specific Web 2.0 technologies.  Would like to see White Whale share their ideas on the editing interface for users.

Blogs dot Middlebury

Agreed with the concept, template designs that can be ported onto other platforms is within scope and part of this project.  More discussion can happen on how this gets implemented.

400 stories

We have started this.  What is the goal of this exercise?  How will this be sustained in the new site?

Midd Search

Appreciate that Search is being addressed early on.  Concerns about the sustainability of custom search pages.

Athletics at Middlebury

Questioning the choice of Picasa.  If we are not relying on specific Web 2.0 technologies, why choose one now?

Turning students into donors

How does this tie into the micro-philanthropy initiative?  Can we add this to the project, or do we need to focus on other features of the site and have this be included in a “phase 2?”

Managing content in an unpredictable environment

Users should not need to know specialized CMS vocabulary.  Also agree that accountability and ownership of the website are goals of this project.

Midd Lab and the language of rugby

This idea needs to be developed. Expect faculty pushback if this is expected to be a driver for interdisciplinary work.  Can this be related to the Commons?  Is this sustainable, do we have the staff?

Data and Design

As we enter into the design phase of the project, it seems worthwhile to consider the lessons within a recent NY Times article about how the lead designer at Google left to join Twitter because of the constraints that the dataheads at Google placed on his creativity.

Help make Middlebury’s website tell your story

I write with an update on Middlebury’s website makeover project, and a request for how you can participate to make our site more vibrant and effective.

In late April, our design firm White Whale visited campus and met with many of us to understand the culture of Middlebury. Through this process, we all feel confident that the new website will address the core concerns that many have voiced throughout the process: effective search, easier navigation, more design flexibility, easier to edit and update, and more multimedia possibilities.

However, White Whale discovered a problem that we had not previously diagnosed: they saw Middlebury as an incredibly vibrant place full of exciting research, activities, projects, and people – but the current site does not effectively share those stories. We realized that as a community, we are much better at doing interesting things in the classroom, labs, publishing world, and community, than sharing knowledge about what we do – and often, peers outside of Middlebury know more about what faculty, staff, and students are working on than here on campus.

The solution to this problem requires simple but widespread participation from faculty, staff, students, and alumni to help share Middlebury stories. White Whale is working on a web design that highlights the vibrancy of the Middlebury community, but we need to discover more specific stories to highlight. To help “seed” this process, we have created a simple web form designed to allow you to let the web makeover committee know what stories you have to share or type go/webstories in your browser.

White Whale has challenged us to gather 400 compelling Middlebury stories by the beginning of June – we can easily top that threshhold if each member of our community shared only 1-2 stories of your accomplishments. It will take only a few minutes to share what you already know, and it will help make our site much more reflective of who we are and what we do. All you’ll need to do is type 2-3 sentences about a project have been working on or know about – if the story seems like something that the Communications Office would like to feature in other media, they might contact you to help develop the story.

Thanks in advance for helping our website tell our stories!

Visual Timeline

We’ve created a visual timeline to describe the rest of the project for those who like visual things:

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