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April 2, 2013

CCNY Website Wins Silver in Education Ad Competition



City College's award-winning website.

The City College of New York's new website has won the Silver Award for Website Design in the 28th Annual Educational Advertising Awards. The category was for institutions with 10,000 – 19,999 students. The overall competition, sponsored by Higher Education Marketing Report, drew close to 3,000 entries from across the United States and several foreign countries.

The recognition follows the CCNY website's recent redesign, overseen by Web Director Lloyd Balch, Content Assistant Jessica Gentile and the design firm of MonacoLange. The multi-faceted project entailed a significant makeover of the site for casual viewers. It also involved a redesign of how content editors, who create and update web pages, use the content management system (CMS), a tool for editing and publishing text and multimedia content, to optimize it.

"These were two massive projects rolled into one," said Mr. Balch. "Firstly, we dramatically changed the visual design of the site to give visitors a strong sense and feel of the City College campus and its vibrancy. We wanted people to feel like they're on campus and to feel its history."

The website accomplishes this through the use of photos that showcase its distinctive architecture and diverse student population. Designed by noted architect George B. Post, the original neo-Gothic buildings and campus grounds, which opened in 1907, have landmark status. With 75 percent of its students self-identifying as members of minority groups, CCNY ranks among the most diverse U.S. colleges or universities.

Along with the enhanced visuals, Mr. Balch and his team reformed the information architecture – or how visitors find things on the site. "The CCNY website consists of thousands of pages. Grouping information into logical subject categories is critical to browse the site with ease," he said.

New functionality improved the user experience. One key addition was the introduction of modern menu systems that flow over and beside the page content to reveal the multiple layers of the site's information hierarchy.

The new, fully optimized CMS eases publishing and editing for the approximately 800 content editors at CCNY who contribute to the site and keep it current. "We've streamlined the content editing experience," said Mr. Balch. "For instance, now there are more choices for content editors to choose page layouts so they have a variety of ways to show information. "

Another improvement is the ability to readily embed multimedia such as Flickr photo albums and YouTube videos." This provides greater opportunity to use photos and video to showcase City College's academic programs.

It's these elements that caught the eyes of the judges in the Educational Advertising Awards, the oldest and largest such advertising awards competition formerly known as the Admissions Advertising Awards.

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