Building upon the ongoing work of New City Media and in response to feedback from an external consulting agency that highlighted weaknesses in our digital presence, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications has embarked on a comprehensive project to transition College department websites into new, updated templates to visually match the College website and align with university branding, while also ensuring security and accessibility measures on College sites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did Texas A&M AgriLife and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences begin this website project?
In the fall of 2020, Texas A&M AgriLife Information Technology and Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications began an extensive review of the entire inventory of Texas A&M AgriLife websites with New City.
These efforts brought to light many sites (including some department sites) with immediate, short-term concerns along with long-term needs for creating strong, brand-driven websites. As our department sites are considered Key Public Entry Points for the University and college, it became imperative that we focus our attention on transitioning these sites as soon as possible.
What is a Key Public Entry Point?
A Key Public Entry Point (KPEP) is a web page that a state agency or institution of higher education has specifically designed for members of the general public to access official information (e.g., the governing or authoritative documents) from the agency or institution of higher education.
How does this College website transition project relate to the New City brand assessment for Texas A&M AgriLife?
We are working with the web and branding firm New City to address AgriLife’s digital presence in a comprehensive way. While New City is helping us understand how to create a more unified digital branding across all of AgriLife, it will not change the College’s foundational relationship with the Texas A&M University brand. The College transition project, while separate from the overarching New City AgriLife brand assessment, shares parallel goals to create a unified vision, utilize industry best practices to ensure excellence for each site, and strengthen dynamic connections across existing AgriLife websites.
How did you determine how department websites were prioritized?
Working in tandem with College leadership, we prioritized the review and transition of department websites into a unified, branded template. The following criteria were considered and prioritized based on critical need, in the order listed below:
- Sites posed a threat to security or created vulnerabilities for risk and compliance.
- Sites existed on an external server and were unable to be maintained appropriately by Texas A&M AgriLife IT and Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications.
- Sites exhibited exceedingly poor layout and navigation, inhibiting overall site function and accessibility.
- Site content was out of date and would require a lengthy and potentially prolonged planning phase.
- Sites utilized one or more outdated templates.
My department uses an updated template already. Why does our department need to be included in the transition?
We recognize that some websites are already employing a previously updated template. In working with New City and with additional support for website design and development, we have created opportunities to provide departments with a newer, enhanced version of that template. This newer template will not only provide an improved experience for your target audiences, but will have a refreshed look that leans into the strong, modernized brand of Texas A&M University. This project is as much about the process as it is about the end result. We look forward to working with you to ensure your new website reflects the identity of your department, helps to elevate its reputation among stakeholders and works toward achieving the strategic goals of your unit.
How will I know that the new site will fit our department’s needs?
Marketing Strategists are working closely with department leadership and unit representatives to understand your department’s needs and align the website with strategic goals of both the department and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
During the initial planning phase, Marketing Strategists will schedule meetings with department leadership to develop and approve a website transition project brief and delivery plan that ensures needs are addressed.
What is happening to the content on our current websites?
In the planning phase of the website transition, the Marketing Strategist assigned to your department will conduct a complete content audit of all pages and material on department websites. A strategic plan will be developed and presented to department leadership that outlines what existing content will be migrated to the new website. All other content will be developed or adapted. Content not deemed productive to advancing the goals of the department or contributing to the website’s aim as a powerful tool for marketing and recruitment will be removed.
Will we lose some of the websites affiliated with our department in the transition?
It is possible that some websites will be consolidated during this process. Marketing Strategists will make recommendations to department leadership where consolidation or decommission of external websites would enhance user experience and promote a unified digital presence to better serve audience needs and meet department goals.
When can I expect our department website to be completed?
We are estimating that each site will take approximately 20 weeks to complete. During this time, three phases will be completed: planning, development, and launch and delivery. For each website review and update, a Marketing Strategist will work with department leadership to review the website’s content, navigation and registered users. All proposed changes to content, navigation and user access will be documented in a delivery plan and approved by leadership.
During each phase of the project, Marketing and Communications will work with individuals within the department, if identified and approved by leadership, to help gather and review content and navigation needs.
We appreciate your patience and understanding that delays in approvals, gathering content and technical site issues could hinder project progress and timelines.
When can we expect existing faculty and lab or individual program websites to be addressed?
We estimate that we will complete all department site transitions by spring 2022. We will begin addressing sites outside the scope of this project after that time.
I need a website created for a new program or lab. Will the transition affect the creation of this site?
Yes. We will not be creating new websites for programs or labs during this time. We will be happy to discuss other options for promoting new teaching, research and/or service activities. Please contact your department’s designated Marketing Strategist for additional information.
Who in our department is expected to assist or offer support through this website transition?
The marketing strategy team is working closely with department leadership to identify stakeholders within each department.
Will we be able to provide input on the overall design of department websites?
During initial meetings with College and department leadership, we are collecting feedback on specific needs for consideration as we work with website developers. Central to the idea of creating a unified, consistent brand is the utilization of the same branded template for these sites. So, while some opportunities for tailored features will be available, template design decisions are being made to address holistic needs across the departments.
What platform will be used to create the new department websites?
Each website will be built using the WordPress content management system and hosted on WPEngine.
After the department websites are fully transitioned, who will be in charge of managing them? Will training be provided?
The Marketing Strategist assigned to your department will take charge of routine maintenance and of ensuring that your department website remains a strong digital channel. Department leadership may identify individuals within the department to assist with content updates and time-sensitive requests. These individuals will receive support, training and other resources from AgriLife Marketing and Communications staff.