Introducing the CAS Department Template Site

Posted on February 05, 2024

cas dept starter site screenshot

It’s already February, and I only have until the end of June to rebuild CAS’ remaining 20+ department sites. Time is quickly running out!

ITS has provided me with a space to build a CAS Department Starter Site, which will become the base template for each CAS department site going forward.

What it means for your department

A common design theme across CAS departments

Your department’s NGWP site will start with an exact clone of this template site. The pages and design blocks are already in place, and I will swap in your department’s images and text. This will speed up the development process, and it also provides a common visual and navigation experience for visitors to all academic department websites within the College of Arts & Sciences.

Condensed text

Modern websites use concise text and high-quality images. If your current site is text-heavy (and most are), you can expect to see everything condensed down to just a few sentences, taglines, or perhaps a few paragraphs. We want our visitors to find the basics they’re looking for very easily and without much distraction. If they want to dig deeper, they can easily click again to find more information, as I do my best to add links wherever they can be useful.

The point is to grab their attention, entice them to learn more, and make it easy for them to find what they need. Visitors can choose to go down the rabbit hole of deeper links as much as they’d like, but the info won’t all be packed overwhelmingly into one long page anymore.

Academic Programs and People will also have a condensed presence within department sites. Read more about that HERE.

Large, high-quality images

Faculty & Staff Images: If you haven’t updated your profile image in a while, now is a good time to do so. Many of the current sites use relatively tiny images for our People listings. These do not translate well into the new site design format. The small images can become pixelated and begin to look unprofessional.

We also ask that you provide an updated image if your published photo no longer accurately portrays the updated version of you!

Department Images: We love to showcase your instructors, students, and events on the sites. If your department images are out of date – especially if the more recent photos are from the pandemic/masking days – we’d love to get some fresher images. Contact Elizabeth Keri to request a photographer visit, and she can help to arrange that. The fresh look of your new site will be worth it!

Stock Images, but only if I have to

We only use photos of our actual students, classrooms, and campus, and I don’t use non-UNCG stock photos of people. I will however make use of subject-relevant stock images if it makes sense for the page design. For example, a gorgeous high-quality stock image of the Colosseum might appropriately fit alongside text about the study of ancient Rome. But if I happen to have a nice photo of our actual students and faculty posing in front of the Colosseum – and I do! – then that’s what I’m choosing. This allows us to remain authentic in our visual representations of all UNCG has to offer.

A marketing tool for prospective students

The NGWP sites are built with the idea that prospective students are our target audience. We won’t necessarily have areas for faculty resources, as those can be found elsewhere. This includes policy documents, for example, which can be found on the CAS website instead. (This reduces redundancy and outdated info.)

That being said, showcasing the department’s history is still important. This also serves to entice future students, as they can see how your department has enriched the lives of your students – and the University as a whole – over the years.

Department-Specific Items

The template is meant to house as many common pages and sections as possible (and it is still evolving), but I realize that each department has its own requirements. Philosophy, for example, has the Great Conversation Series, which has gone on for many years. New events in that series will be added to the Events Calendar, but it’s important to have a special place to house information about those events and also to showcase the posters from previous talks within the series. When we talk about your future site, these kinds of considerations can be addressed.

Call to action

If we haven’t connected recently about your NGWP site, let’s chat! We can meet over Teams and walk through your current website together, I can take notes about what’s important to your department and students, and I can answer any questions you may have.

Feel free to check my calendar in Outlook and send me an invitation for a Teams meeting. Let’s block out an hour, but it might not take that long.


Sarah Vetter

Contact Sarah Vetter, Webmaster for The College of Arts & Sciences

[email protected]

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