Even websites have a history: this makes number four in eight years...
Screen shot of Welcome graphic for fourth re-designed website, August 2009
We have re-designed our website — along with every other department in the College of Liberal Arts. The biggest change is all the navigation menus are now on the left main menu.
In 2001, the History Department's website was very simple with orange geometric shapes for graphics and a few photos. This re-design makes the fourth for the department since then. For this re-design, we looked at every page to streamline information and improve presentation. We then transferred all content over to a completely new content management system (CMS).
In 2002, The University of Texas's Information Technology Services department started to re-design the university's home page and website. Websites across the university were very disparate. And there was no clear wordmark to clue people in to which university website they were on. Plus, technology continues to improve with new code upgrades and multi-media possibilities almost every day—certainly every six months.
Screen shot of top half of third re-designed website, January 2008
The College of Liberal Arts stayed abreast of these technological changes. In an effort to create a more uniform look and feel among the college's 60 plus departments and centers, it created a template and began working with departments to move over their content. The History Department was one of the first departments to be re-designed using this new template, which occurred during the summer of 2003.
A simple banner graphic, using a detail of the architecture from the actual building was created, with a blue and green color scheme. The news section expanded, as well as, more information on the graduate and undergraduate programs.
The second re-design occurred during the summer of 2005 with a banner graphic idea submitted by former faculty member Dr. Ron Tyler, from a book he used in his teaching titled, The Log of a Cowboy, penned in 1903 by Andy Adams. It had an illustration of a cowboy riding his black stallion along side longhorn steers. The color scheme dramatically changed to match that illustration, a burgundy orange and forest-green brown.
Screen shot of top half of second re-designed website, August 2005
In the spring of 2007, a two-person faculty web committee was formed consisting of Professors Neil Kamil and Cynthia Talbot by the Chair of the Department, Alan Tully. They were given two major tasks.
One was to add more information on faculty, such as the 14 thematic fields that are now widely used by all, but particularly by prospective graduate students. And the second task was to change the banner graphic to something that all the professors in the department could feel represented them and not just U.S. history.
This proved difficult to achieve in a space not more than an inch-and-a-half deep. Kamil, one of the department's resident scholars on architecture, suggested we investigate whether the Alexander Architectural Archive Library might have anything of inspiration for a new banner.
Screen shot of top half of first re-designed website (only black and white image available), August 2003
An appointment was made with Library Assistant III Nancy Sparrow to view the original architectural drawings by Herbert M. Greene, the architect from Dallas, who was commissioned to create what is now Garrison Hall. At first sight—as it has been for everyone—we were immediately taken with their beauty.
We had the drawings digitized, but however much we tried to find elements from the drawings for that very horizontal space, we still ended up with a wild west look using a cow's skull with a floral design drawn on one side of it. The color scheme went back to blue and turquoise green—only a more architectural blue this time to match the drawings.
At the same time we were creating a new banner graphic, preparations were underway to move back into GAR after a year-and-a half spent in Burdine Hall, while GAR underwent its first major renovation since it was built in 1926. A two-day celebration was planned.
The department hosted tours of the building, a reception and mini-lectures called Come Back To Garrison (CBTG). Professor Joan Neuberger, chairperson for the event, decided to use details from the architectural drawings to make the CBTG postcard invitations and programs, along with souvenir T-shirts. The event was extremely successful with classrooms filled with alumni, friends and students eager to just learn without the worry of being tested on the material later.
Screen shot of top half of website that was in orange (only black and white image available), October 2001
And if all that wasn't enough, there was still the founding of the Institute for Historical Studies in 2007. Director Julie Hardwick also decided to use a detail from the architectural drawings for the creation of their logo, the book and quill from the north entrance to the building.
But as previously stated, technology continues to advance. Looking to improve and upgrade the code for the college's websites, among a host of other concerns, the dean's office purchased a new web CMS from Hannon-Hill Corporation called Cascade in 2007. Now, after painstaking months of creating a new database system to replace the former eXtensible Markup Language files, and moving content over to Cascade, all the departments, centers, and institutes in the college have been switched over to the new CMS.
And again, the architectural drawings were used for the Welcome splash graphic and the new logo for the website was also inspired by a detail from one of the drawings. This time, much to the department chair's delight, no more wild-west theme.
Associate Chair George Forgie deserves much of the credit for helping us "think out of the box," along with Student Associate Jackie Llado for her amazing patience in critiquing multiple ("endless" is probably closer to the word she would use) iterations of logos until we found a new, heretofore, undiscovered detail from the drawings. The color scheme is still the architectural blue but with its complementary color red this time.
We now have a Calendar page that gives a preview at a glance of what's happening in the department on which day, along with our usual page that lists the events in more detail. We've added more resources to our Alumni page including the college and Texas Exe's Facebook groups you can join and a link to follow the university on Twitter. There's even a YouTube TexasAlumni's Channel now too.
And last, but not least, we've added a link to a departmental online Giving Form. We've got plans for podcasts and videos, but in the meantime, we'd like to know what you would like to see here. Please e-mail us with comments or suggestions. Hope you enjoy the new website.
List of contributers to the fourth re-design:
Anne Alexander, College of Liberal Arts (CoLA) information specialist
Geoff Boyd, sr. software developer/analyst
Gail Davis, administrative services officer I
Tim Fackler, project manager for Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
Laura Flack, executive assistant
George Forgie, associate chair for dept.
Rick Geyer, owner, Family Experiences Productions Inc
Judy Hogan, administrative assistant
Marissa Kopatic, student associate CoLA
Jackie Llado, student associate
Marsha Miller, UT photography supervisor
Suloni Robertson, CoLA art director
Megan Seaholm, instructor and newsletter editor
Alan Tully, chair of dept.
For more info, contact:
Web Content Manager, History Dept.