The Washington College Redesign

Swimming in an ocean of ideas with the White Whale pod

  • November 14

    Launch has been super exciting. We realize that the new home page is very different from the old home page, and that many folks may not have been expecting such a big change!

    Here, in less than 2 minutes, you’ll find a video tour of the home page that explains some of the new locations and features.

  • October 17

    “Whale Riders”—mostly Shane, Tim & Lindsay—are here to help make the transition easier.

    CR&M has continued to work on developing the core site (what you will find under the main navigation) and audience gateways. Much of this is visible if you click around the website while logged in. We also have a great team of student workers helping us through some of the migrated content that will help make your sites even better (think profiles and galleries).

    Our office has enjoyed watching sites grow, and we are more than happy to have a “Whale Rider” meet with you if you have questions. The enthusiasm shown for this project is heartening, and we want you all to feel that you’ve had the opportunity to put your best face forward on the web. To accommodate for additional training and build-out time, we are pushing our official “launch” date to November 9.

    Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to working with you on this ongoing endeavor to make our site a thriving, dynamic community that echoes our campus’s unhurried conversations, quirky characters, and close connections.

  • September 24

    We’re very excited for training with members of the White Whale staff tomorrow, and we hope to see you there. If you’re still looking for your username and password, you haven’t missed it…

    Usernames and passwords will be generated tonight, and you should have an email about it by morning.

    New users will have their netid (for example, lbergman2) as both username and password. If you created an account over the summer, your password will be what you changed it to (or the default of changeme123).

    There’s still time to request a login through our ticket system as well.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

  • September 20

    There are a lot of options at next week’s trainings. We hope you can come out to one or more of the training sessions, but training does not end here! The CR&M staff will offer support and training after the Whales swim away.

    (I’m sorry, folks. The Whale jokes will get old eventually. Maybe.)

    We are offering three training sessions at various times next Tuesday and Wednesday. A full schedule is available a few posts ago or by clicking here.

    Background Info

    Hands-On CMS Training will provide you with the basics of using LiveWhale CMS. It’s a great opportunity to log in and learn how to manipulate your content while the creators of the CMS are on site to show you the ropes and answer your questions. If you’re planning to attend this training, please request a user log in ahead of time by submitting a ticket. We also recommend bringing a laptop if you have one available. This session is also great if you just want to see the CMS in action.

    Brightness is a session with White Whale designer Janie. She will give you some tips to make your pictures look amazing—even with a point-and-shoot. That’s right! You don’t need an expensive DSLR to create awesome photo content for the web. Brightness will mostly focus on multimedia content, which is prominently featured in our new design.

    Web Content: The Basics will help stimulate ideas for the written portion of your site. Tonya will talk strategy and process. So many areas of our site already have great content, but now there are different methods to make that content available to our audiences. If you have questions or concerns about your content, The Basics is for you! This session was also available in May, so you can review slides from that session here.


    There are no prerequisites for any of the training sessions next week and no need to register for sessions. Please contact us about creating users for your department or office if you have not already. Each user will receive an email within the next few days.

    We look forward to introducing you to LiveWhale CMS and the new web site!

  • September 17

    Please continue to request user login info via the Job Ticket Portal. We will email you once your login information is created.

    We are currently in the progress of migrating content from the old site to the new site. If you’re in a group whose content is migrating (this includes most academic departments and institutional offices), we are asking that you do not log in to the new server at this time.

    Additionally, logging in to the LiveWhale sandbox that we used over the summer has been disabled for the migration process.

    Please bear with us in the coming weeks as we bring the site closer to reality!

    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment.

  • September 13

    So, you’ve been listening to College Relations tell you, “It’s so easy! You’ll love it!” But where’s the proof? In upcoming trainings, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about our new content management system, LiveWhale.

    In the meantime, we encourage working on written content in Word. It will be pretty easy to copy and paste. Here’s a how-to.

    For more information, we encourage you to come to the trainings while White Whale is visiting. We will offer more training options throughout the fall and spring, but these training sessions are from the masters themselves!

    Additionally, decide among your office or department who wants access to the CMS. You can have many users—including student workers—who can update your content. Request user logins via our ticket system.

  • September 10

    We hope that you can join members of the White Whale team when they visit campus for these upcoming sessions.

    White Whale Web Services

    LiveWhale On-Campus Training Sessions

    September 25-26, 2012

    All sessions are open to faculty, staff, and student workers.

    Tuesday, September 25 

    11:30 - 12:15 CMS hands-on training with live content The Egg
    11:30 - 12:15 Brightness (Photography for the web) Bunting Conference Room
    12:30 - 1:15 Lunch  
    1:30 - 2:45 Web Content: The Basics Bunting Conference Room
    1:30 - 2:45 CMS hands-on training with live content The Egg
    4:00 - 5:15 CMS hands-on training with live content The Egg


    Wednesday, September 26

    9:30 - 10:20 CMS hands-on training with live content The Egg
    10:30 - 11:20 Brightness (Photography for the web) Bunting Conference Room
    10:30 - 11:20 Web Content: The Basics The Egg


  • August 24

    There is a lot on the horizon. White Whale will be visiting in late September, leading up to an exciting launch in October.

    The website project has entered the migration phase—where we move the old site over to the new templates, all behind the scenes—and most of our discussion with White Whale is half English, half Cascading Style Sheets.

    What does this mean for you? Well, we are getting closer to having the actual content management system up and running, but until then, we encourage you to keep thinking about your content. If you’re developing new content or improving old content, you can do that in a Word document. Once the CMS is up and running, you’ll be able to copy and paste much of that content right into your pages. If you discover old content lurking in the dark recesses of your site, please let Tim know and he can take it down before the migration date. Tim asks that colleagues requesting changes to the current site please use the ticket system located on the College Relations site. 

    White Whale is visiting campus September 25 and 26. Sessions will include some hands-on training, but it will also be a time to get feedback on your ideas for your office or department pages, and suggestions for using WC widgets. Keep an eye out for more details. We hope to see you there!

  • July 13

    Curious minds want to know:  how soon will we be seeing our beautiful new web site in action? 

    The White Whale team will visit campus again in late September, in the final push toward an October launch date.

    Our new server is being configured, the build-out is nearly complete, we are collecting new stories and features, and we’ll begin implementing content recommendations and migrating pages into the LiveWhale content management system in August.

    The College Relations Office will continue to meet with administrative offices throughout the summer to help you begin thinking about how best to present your content. We’ll be offering user training Tuesday, September 25 and the morning of Wednesday, September 26, for faculty and staff, so please mark your calendars. Details about specific training sessions will follow.

  • July 3

    This blog has been fairly quiet since the White Whale visit in May, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been working on the transition to our new web site.

    The Whales have been doing a ton of work building actual web sites out of the mock ups they showed us earlier in the year. We’re currently in this awkward transition between the concept of a new web site and actually seeing it in action—and we’re very excited!

    Although we would be lying if we said we weren’t a little bit nervous too. Personally, I’m a perpetual list maker, and I probably have three “to do” lists going right now. College Relations wants this transition to go smoothly, and we definitely don’t plan to rush anything.

    Over the summer, we are meeting with various administrative offices to discuss the upcoming changes. We’re mostly asking each office to consider what content is important to them, what should be polished, and what can be thrown out. Jason of White Whale has compared this migration to moving; when you move into another house, you don’t empty the contents of your junk drawer into the new house’s junk drawer. You get rid of things. You sort things and find them homes. We are moving from a cluttered house to something designed for HGTV’s Dream Home, and we want folks to bring the content that suits this new home.

  • May 23

    During their visit, White Whale talked about thinking of content in terms of how the audience sees it. They are really the WHY behind what we do.


    Below are Tonya’s presentations from Web Content: The Basics and Advanced Content Strategies. These slideshows outline the concepts and include examples from other institutions to give you an idea of what kind of content wins on the web. Be sure to view them in conjunction with the handouts on information architecture. The IA is an important framework that anticipates how the audience will look for content.

    Web Content: The Basics (PDF)

    Content Strategies (PDF)

    Inventory/Evaluation Sheet (XLSX)

    This summer gives us all an opportunity to inventory (click through our site), evaluate (what are we doing right and what needs improvement?), and plan (what are our goals and desired outcomes for our audiences?). That way, when we implement the new site this fall, we have a great start on something that will keep growing.


    Janie’s presentation on digital photography and video was full of useful tips and tricks. With just a few tweaks, digital photos can look much better on the screen. The bonus slides provide some context, describing how LiveWhale will allow us to share photos among our communities, boosting content across the site.

    Brightness (PDF)

    Bonus Slides (PDF)

    In Conclusion

    We hope that you’re as eager as we are to jump in to this new web community! We look forward to creating content together that we can share across departments and use to speak to our audiences.

    My favorite quote from the Whales’ visit, and something we should always keep in mind as we work on our website and its content:

    it’s a garden, not a painting.

    The work is never really done because we are always doing something new and interesting that is worth sharing with the world.

    As always, we’d love to hear what you think! Share your feedback, or contact members of the project team with questions, comments or concerns.

  • May 17

    We would like to say thank you to the big crowd that came out for Web Content: The Basics this morning (and to everyone who came to our other sessions over the last two days). We will have more workshops as we approach our fall semester launch, and the CR&M team (and the folks at White Whale) are happy to answer any questions you may have as we move forward.

    If you missed this morning’s Web Content: The Basics session, there is another one tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall (Toll Science Building).

    We’re also making the handouts available online in case you can’t make it, or would like to share what you learned with your colleagues.


    Best Practices - Information Architecture & Content (PDF)

    General Information Architecture & Content Recommendations for Academic Departments (PDF)

    General Information Architecture & Content Recommendations for Administrative Offices (PDF)

  • May 4

    Proposed designs for internal pages have landed. Yes, that was a terrible pun.

    Following the homepage design debut in March, the folks at White Whale Web Services started crafting what will live inside the WC web site. This includes the pretty stuff (below) and the navigation framework for the site. The designs below use the old navigation, so we can expect that to vary a bit from what we see in mock-ups. Additionally, all of these designs will eventually include the site footer with links to be determined.


    Department Pages

    image image 

    In addition to housing the specifics about the academic department, these landing pages will pull related news stories and profiles from the content management system and spotlight interesting programs with pictures.


    About Page


    Other landing pages will undergo a redesign of what their section encompasses. But, as you can see from this page, stories are still a huge emphasis no matter what page you visit.

    As we transition to LiveWhale CMS over the summer, we will continue to collect stories from the Washington College community. Stories will flesh out departmental sites and sometimes be pulled on to the homepage, so pictures are great additions! As we move forward, faculty, staff and students will be able to create stories with ease right in the CMS. If you’re interested in learning about the CMS or writing and photography for the web, check out our upcoming workshops.

    And as always, we welcome your feedback and opinions on these design mock-ups. WC’s web site is a representation of WC, so we need your help to put our best face forward!

  • May 3

    Stop by one or two of the White Whale Workshops going on May 16 through May 18.

    This summer, we will be migrating our web content to the new content management system, LiveWhale. This CMS will make sharing news easier for everyone, from academic departments to administrative offices to student clubs. For those who are interested in getting started over the summer—or even if you’re just curious what we’re up to—members of White Whale Web Services will be visiting campus to present a few workshops to make the transition from web site to web community smooth sailing. If you can’t make it, these workshops will be offered again in the fall.

    Faculty, staff or student workers who are interested in learning about the CMS, writing for the web, or taking better photos for the web are invited to attend. Take a peek at the workshop descriptions below. If you’re interested in attending, R.s.v.p. to Sarah Snyder at or x7111.


    LiveWhale: The Content Management System
    May 16, 1:00-2:30, Daly 108
    May 16, 3:00-4:30, Daly 108

    This training is primarily for members of the White Whale Working Group, but anyone is welcome to attend. If you can’t stay for the entire 90 minutes, please come for the first 15 minutes of the session.


    Web Content: The Basics
    May 17, 10:00-11:30, Litrenta Lecture Hall
    May 18, 10:00-11:30, Litrenta Lecture Hall

    Writing for the web is different from writing for any other medium. In this session participants will learn how to communicate more clearly with their web audiences, present information for maximum readability, and organize their site to make content easier for people to find. It will feature content strategy basics, the dos and don’ts of web writing, information architecture best practices, and examples of successful web communications. 


    Brightness: Making Photos and Videos Look Great on the Web
    May 17, 11:30-1:00, Daly 108 
    May 17, 2:30-4:00, Daly 108

    Join Janie from White Whale Web Services to learn some introductory-level photo and video tips. She’ll talk about making the most of the equipment that you already have, cover a few software tools, and advise you on when to use those swirly video transitions (never!). Presentation is about one hour with time for questions, and people are welcome to stop in for any part of the session their schedules allow.


    Advanced Web Communications and Content Strategies
    May 17, 1:00-2:30, Litrenta Lecture Hall

    In this session, we’ll take web communications to the next level, thinking strategically about all of the different types of web content. Participants will learn how to better identify goals, understand audiences, and balance different means of communicating. We’ll cover how basic page content, news, events, photos/videos, other featured elements, and social media can work together to communicate effectively with your audiences.


  • April 19

    What will we see?

    White Whale has presented us with some early mock-ups of inside pages, and we will roll them out on the blog as soon as we go through some tweaks. In the meantime, I thought I’d share with our audience some of the things we can expect from the department sites based on what we saw of the initial sketches.

    Navigation will become more consistent across the board. As we migrate content this summer, we’ll be making sure we have common labels on all department sites for things like internships and student research. Special programs unique to a department will have a special spotlight on the page so we can keep navigation buttons to a minimum. Recent headlines pulled from the news bureau will have a place on many of the pages. What does this mean? Basically, all audiences will have an easier time moving through the site. Consistency will be really helpful to prospective students and to those of us who regularly navigate the website as well.

    Stories aren’t just for the main page, either. We will be able to feature many individual stories to show all the different experiences available at Washington College. Consider submitting your story today and it may turn up in later mock-ups.

    I’m not going to reveal all the details here just yet. Believe me, a picture is worth more words than I could ever write for this blog!

  • March 28

    “The goal of this redesign project is to make the Washington College site more like WC itself.”

    President Jason Pontius and Designer Janie Porche of White Whale Web Services present the preliminary homepage design in Hynson Lounge.On Monday, Jason Pontius and Janie Porche, two principals with White Whale Web Services, visited Washington College to present the preliminary design for our new homepage. The look is very different from our current page, but the concept is driven by things we are already doing. Jason, president and founder of White Whale, described the new site as “conversation-driven design.”

    If you were unable to attend the presentation, we encourage you to explore the mock ups. Both a video and written summary of the presentation are available below as well. Please feel free to let us know what you think in the comments section or email me (Lindsay Bergman, 

    Design mockups

    Click to experience the scrolling effect of the bold, image-focused design. The links are inactive, and the “features bar” only expands for Literature & Creative Life in this demo.

    Screenshot of Mockup Screenshot of Mockup 

    Check out the main mockup or alternates 1 or 2.

    Video of design presentation

    You can watch White Whale’s presentation, including the question and answer portion, below.


    This summary is based on my notes and the video. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or email me (

    President Jason Pontius and Designer Janie Porche of White Whale Web Services present the preliminary homepage design in Hynson Lounge.The new design is meant to show rather than tell. It will feature pictures, projects and stories about real people doing interesting things. While the design illustrates our unique character, it also invites users to experience life at WC. Large pictures with enticing titles draw visitors in. In the actual design, each picture will link to a related story, which will also be a portal to related content. More people will have the opportunity to share their stories, and the homepage (and website) will feel more like a day in the life at WC rather than a marketing piece.

    Although the design itself is fresh and cutting edge, the navigation remains standard. Three aspects of the design remain horizontal: the main navigation, the “features bar” and the footer. The “features bar” acts as a gateway not only to the Centers of Excellence but is also a portal to certain institutional strengths. For example, clicking on “Literature & Creative Life” opens a door for the Rose O’Neill Literary House, but also provides an opportunity for a featured spotlight, links to related academic programs, and a newsfeed of related information. The “features bar” also includes audience-specific links that will be easily maintained by the content management system. The footer holds frequently accessed links such as human resources and Miller Library, but there is also a tip of the hat to our heritage with a quote from Rules of Civility and a picture of George Washington.

    How Will It Work?

    Without delving into the more technical aspects of LiveWhale CMS (I’ll leave that for the Whales), I will say that its implementation will make the design sustainable. The site will be easier to use and a submit form (similar to Share Your Story! on this redesign blog) makes it easy for any member of the community to submit pictures and stories. Faculty and staff who are updating areas of their site with content that might be relevant to the homepage will be able to use a “suggest” option to let the folks in charge of the homepage know about it. When the community participates in creating content, the homepage and the site itself will be a more accurate reflection of the WC experience. 

    Your Questions, Comments and Concerns

    The “conversation-based” design cannot exist without conversation. Please let us know what you think so far.

  • March 27

    A big thanks to everyone from the Washington College community who came out to the presentation yesterday.

    Thank you Emily Aiken, Diane Landskroener, Sarah Snyder, George Spilich, Brittany Weaver, Jim Allison, Dale Daigle, Aundra Weissert, Shane Brill, Eric Broussard, Brian Palmer, Donald McColl, Meredith Hadaway, Jin Xio Guo, Meghan Cooney, John Beck, Judie Barroll, Carolyn Thompson, Stephen Cades, Jonnie Jenkins, Dale Trusheim, Chris Landskroener, Kate Goldberg, Briggs Cunningham, Drew Thiemann, Kay MacIntosh, Marcia Landskroener, JoAnn Fairchild, Alan Chesney, Michael Buckley, Shirley Loller, Tim Fields, Ruth Shoge, Laura Wilks-Simms, and Rebekah Hardy. (Sorry if we missed anyone!)

    Stay tuned! We will be posting video and summary from the reveal of the preliminary homepage design later today.

  • March 19

    You’re invited to preview the homepage and share your opinion.

    From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Jason and Janie of White Whale will be in Hynson Lounge to show everyone the new homepage design and hear initial feedback. Bring your lunch and come see the future of WC on the web! Your opinions will help us shape the site and make it an authentic representation of our College.

  • March 15

    We saw the first mock up of the new homepage today and all we can say is wow!

    The design incorporates some new ways of presenting our content and embraces the awesome integration that will be possible with LiveWhale CMS. A public preview is right around the corner—stay tuned!

  • March 8

    Where do we start?

    Following their visit in February, the White Whale team returned to their respective corners of the United States and started thinking about Washington College. They got back to us quickly with recommendations to help us start thinking about the site, especially in terms of the content we will feature moving forward. We want to share the individual stories of WC, and not just through words. By encouraging people to tell their stories in their own voices, and to share pictures and videos of what they are up to, we can create a mosaic of the Washington College experience that rings true and that creates an emotional connection with prospective students, alumni, parents and friends.

    One thing we’ve learned from this process is something we’ve known all along: Our Washington College community is full of fascinating people with diverse interests and plenty of passion. Your unique stories will give the WC web site an authentic voice.

    Sharing your story is one way to do it. What you’re doing is Washington College. Faculty research, student stories, alumni outcomes—everything is relevant. We want to show the world what Washington College is and what it does for those who love it. You can share your story through this site or email a team member to chat.

    We also realize that many of you out there are already making waves on the web. Bloggers, Tweeters, Flickrers (is that a term?)—we’re looking for energy sources like you to be a part of this project! Let us know what you’re up to on the web, even if it isn’t completely related to WC. We’re interested.

  • February 29

    Over the three days White Whale was here in February, they met with everyone we could squeeze into their schedule.

    They learned the history of Washington College and got a taste of what the future holds for the campus. Janie documented the trip and posted some of the pictures from their visit to Flickr.