December 2, 2004

Athletic Website Redesign Coming in January

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Every day, thousands of Cornell students, parents, alumni, and fans access the University’s official athletic website, cornellbigred.collegesports.com, to find out scores, view game highlights, and read feature stories on some of the Red’s top programs and best athletes.

But, while the content of the site’s various pages remains some of the strongest and most comprehensive in the country, its appearance and navigability often leaves visitors looking for more. Sometime this January, that will all change.

“The entire look of the site is going to be redesigned. We want to take a fresh approach,” said Jeremy Hartigan, interim director of athletic communications. “The problem with the current site isn’t content. It’s appearance. We feel that a lot of the content gets lost in navigation and a lot things flashing on the screen right now. It’s just not the stately, Ivy look we want and people want to see.”

Roughly three years ago, Cornell entered a contract with CollegeSports, formerly known as OCSN, to host the University’s athletic homepage. According to Hartigan, one stipulation of that contract was a redesign of the site every two or three years.

“We’re at the long end of that time. Especially with the new Cornell University website, we feel that now is a good time to look at the image we portray,” he said. “We have a lot of things to talk about. We’ve won 14 Ivy League titles in the last two years, and we have a lot of marquee programs that are getting people excited. Hockey is always good, and hopefully going for another ECAC and Ivy title, wrestling is going for a national championship, and the football team did really well this year.”

Leading the project are members of Cornell’s office of athletic communications, administrators in the athletic department, the team at CollegeSports, and the group of administrators who spearheaded Cornell University’s new website. Their primary goals are to preserve the site’s content but also to enhance its appearance and improve the technology available to its users.

Most notable among these changes will be links to streaming audio and video coverage of games, an interactive Hall of Fame, and an extensive history of Cornell athletics and each team.

“We want the site to be on the forefront of technology and to best portray Cornell athletics,” Hartigan said. “It’s a huge undertaking. Some of the features won’t be available right away, but we will gradually build them in.”

Originally, the new site was scheduled to be unveiled in the middle of December, but planners have found that melding the interests of so many different parties — the University, coaches, and alumni — has required a more intricate evaluation of the options available to them. To date, those directing the project have viewed several prototypes for the new home page, but none has been perfect.

“We’re still in the redesign phase, but we have a tentative date for release sometime in the middle of January” Hartigan said. “That isn’t a bad time, actually, because its right in the middle of hockey season, and basketball and wrestling will hopefully be in their prime too.

It’s also around the time when we’re just starting our spring sports. We want to do it as soon as possible, but we want to make sure its right first.”

While Hartigan did not know precisely how much the school has invested in the project, he did know that implementing features like streaming video could cost hundreds of dollars per contest. Such new budgetary concerns have weighed heavily in the planning process.

“We’re going to pick and choose [which games we stream] at first to see what the interest is,” Hartigan said. “We want to offer the best product, and we hope cost isn’t a huge factor in that, but sometimes the money just isn’t there.”

While individual interests and funding have guided the redesign team throughout the preliminary stages of the redesign, the team’s primary concern will be generating interest and creating excitement about the new look of Cornell sports.

“As the date [for the website’s release] gets closer, we’re going to really market it a lot,” Hartigan said. “We want to encourage parents and alumni to visit. We want people to be excited about it, and I think it will really help build everybody involved.”

Archived article by Everett Hullverson
Sun Assistant Sports Editor