Wichita State University is days away from launching a redesigned website that officials hope will ramp up efforts to recruit out-of-state students.
"One of the big thrusts of Wichita State marketing right now is looking farther afield than Kansas," said Tim Hart, director of web and new media for WSU's office of strategic communications.
"They're probably not going to just on the fly drive up here to see our campus," he said. "And we want them to see that campus, because if we can get them here, we usually land them."
The revamped website, scheduled to launch sometime in the next week, features a streamlined home page, an interactive campus map, a virtual tour and links to every major, minor and graduate degree the university offers.
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Prominent on the new home page is a headline that hints at WSU's emphasis on applied learning: "Where classroom and real world collide."
"The overarching goal of the home page is to speak more directly to prospective students and their parents," said Hart, who offered a sneak peek of the new site during a media briefing Thursday.
Unlike the university's current home page, which has more than 70 navigation points, the new home page features a video loop showing students in classrooms and labs, at basketball games and just hanging out on campus. A handful of links invite visitors to explore majors and programs, schedule a visit, see an interactive map and calculate college costs.
Highlighted "fast facts" boast that "WSU grads earn more than those of any other Kansas university" and that WSU has the "highest first-year employment rate among public universities in Kansas."
"What you're going to see here is a very streamlined approach," Hart said. "We've gotten all of the info out of the way of the prospective students so that we can speak to them more directly."
Hart said his staff is still finalizing the new website, but it should launch within a week. The university's online address will be the same — www.wichita.edu.
The new site will feature a public information section with "frequently requested" data and documents available to download, Hart said, along with a form for submitting an open records request.
Once a request has been received and processed, there will be a log "so anyone can see what's been requested," he said.
"We want to be transparent — that's the main thing," Hart said. WSU's office of strategic communication will work with the general counsel's office to administer the public information portion of the site, he said.
Elsewhere on the new website, visitors will be able to access an interactive — and easily printable — map of campus, which includes driving and walking directions that can be plugged into any GPS device. You can also zoom in on any building to see "finely rendered" detail and information about the programs housed there.
Eventually, the site will allow WSU to alert visitors about construction zones and road closures in real time, Hart said. The map also will highlight handicapped-accessible entrances throughout campus, he said.
A virtual tour includes 360-degree panoramic photos from various points on campus. In one of them, WuShock, WSU's mascot, holds a sign that says, "Welcome to Shocker Nation."
Part of the university's new marketing strategy targets Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Kansas City as part of the so-called "I-135 corridor." Prospective students in all of those cities are allowed to pay in-state tuition at WSU.