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New UA Web site fixing issues

The new UA homepage has been under construction after its first attempt to go online in early December.


Problems, which bogged down the new version of the Web site, are being adjusted.

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More than $116,000 was spent on initial costs of the Web site. The new site was designed and built by Archetype 5, an outside contractor. Additional funds totaling nearly $30,000 are going toward hardware costs for new servers and small software additions, said Kate Maguire Jensen, assistant vice president of marketing at UA.


The new Web site ran smoothly for a few days, but then had some technical difficulties, according to Patti Van Leer, a UA marketing specialist at the Office of Student Computing Resources.


Van Leer worked with the incident command council that was formed to fix the problems of the new Web site.


Slowness of search features was the biggest user complaint, which presented a mysterious problem: the site acted as if the server was overloaded, but when a check was performed, the servers didn't show any overloading issues, according to Van Leer.


""We went through this very methodical approach where we made a change to the Web site, studied what happened and un(did) that change,"" said Van Leer.


It took several weeks of that process for the problem to even be replicated in a test environment so they could figure out how to fix the glitch.


Derek Masseth, who works on the incident command council, noted the site has certain benefits as well as drawbacks.


""The new site is far and away more modern,"" Masseth said.


He believes the updated search feature is one of the strongest components of the new site, yet is the hardest to fix. ""Delivering that kind of content and that kind of search to thousands and thousands of users is a complex thing to do and, as it turns out, more complex than we originally bargained for.""


Recently, the Web site in the test environment has been running well, which prompted questions as to when it will be available for public use.


""We have confidence that we've fixed the problems and that when we go live again, it will perform well,"" Masseth said. ""But we can't really guarantee that until (it goes live).""


The Web site will replace the new homepage at the same URL and will feature specialized Web pages for incoming students, current students, staff and parents.


""The site is a modernization and reworking of the old site,"" Masseth said. ""It's prettier and more navigatable.""


A committee meeting was held Monday to discuss the successes of the new site. In two weeks they will set a date for the launch of the new site.


""We'd love to have a date and we're going to have a date,"" Jensen said of the launch. ""We just don't want to jump into it prematurely.""


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