H-SC Launches New Website

July 29, 2013
Thomas H. Shomo '69, Director of Marketing & Communications

Banner & ShieldAfter a year of planning and implementation, Hampden-Sydney has launched a major redesign of our website. 

In July 2012, the College contracted with adcraft of Richmond, Virginia, to redesign the website.  We had four goals: to focus the homepage on prospective students, to expand the color palate, to achieve a bolder design while retaining the traditional elements of the Hampden-Sydney brand, and to have a responsive design - equally adaptable to PC, laptop, tablet, and smartphone.

The traditional elements that were utilized are the Hampden-Sydney word mark, the garnet and grey colors, and the shield (coat-of-arms).   The new color palate utilizes the yellow and blue from the shield and adds complementary colors.  The banner and shield (the coat-of-arms surrounded by the "ribbon") is used as the watermark on all pages. 

Although there was input for the design from all constituents, especially the Marketing Working Group and the Marketing Committee of the Board, much credit goes to the Student Senate which provided invaluable guidance.   Understanding that the homepage was to focus on prospective students, each time a proof was presented to the Senate, the members said "bolder, brighter."

The Marketing Committee of the Board and the Admissions Office wanted to lead with "all male."  The original idea was to have "A college for men" as the constant caption as the dominant homepage picture rotated.  When this was taken to the Senate, they responded, "Yes, it is a college for men but it is so much more."  The faculty had expressed the desire that we might emphasize aspects of the academic program.  Others pointed out the role the Honor Code, athletics, clubs and organizations - including fraternities - and volunteerism play in the development of the Hampden-Sydney Man.  To emphasize this diversity, while still holding to the centrality of being a college for men, the dominant homepage photograph and caption rotates.  Each set of five rotating pictures - changed periodically - includes "A college for men" but also highlights other aspects of the Hampden-Sydney experience.

For the user, the greatest benefit is the responsive design.  Those who tried to access the old website on a smartphone know what a frustrating experience that was.  Although responsive design has improved the user experience for all, it particularly takes into account the large number of prospective students who own - live on - a smartphone.

Although launched, the new website is not complete.  We have engaged CampusTours of Auburn, Maine, to create a virtual map.  You may see an example of their work on the Sweet Briar website.  We expect to have the Hampden-Sydney virtual map on-line in late September.  One of the aspects of the virtual map is "layers" allowing emphasis on various aspects of the campus.  We will start with the basics - academics, athletics, and student life - and develop others later.  Dr. Richard McClintock will be undertaking the layer on history and traditions.

Shortly after the beginning of the academic year, we will commission several videos to be added to the website.  Our plan is to do a video on each of the "pillars" which the Board Marketing Committee identified as the fundamental aspects of and results of a Hampden-Sydney education: better learning, stronger character, richer community, and more confident men.  Separately, we want to highlight leadership and the Rhetoric Program.

The care and feeding of the website is a continuous, time consuming, and expensive undertaking, but it is vital to the marketing of the College.  Print will always have its place, but most prospective students, as well as prospective faculty, staff, and even donors, will find us first on-line and will use the website to obtain the information they need.  All marketing drives the audience to the website.

We are still working on upgrading content, have the virtual map and videos to add, and photography to update, but we have made a good start.  The new design replaces that done in 2010 and as I told the core group - Cheryle Dixon, Webmaster; Anita Garland, Dean of Admissions; Kelly Dudley, Web Content Editor; Kevin Kirsche, Designer; and Jason Ferguson, Director of Admissions - when we are "done," enjoy the brief respite because we have to begin all over again in three years as we redesign for a new generation a students.

I welcome your comments (tshomo@hsc.edu).  A website is always a work in progress.