The digitalBURG website is redesigned and revamped after the Muleskinner was put into abeyance for the fiscal year. The new website officially went live Sept. 2.
Managing Editor of the Muleskinner Jacque Flanagan started working on the site in May for a special project in the mass communications graduate program. Flanagan had the help of Eric Newsom, an assistant professor in the communication department, when it came to coding the site.
“Back in May, I decided as part of my plan for grad school, that I wanted to do a special project. Why not do it before I even start grad school in the fall and start in May instead? So I asked Dr. Newsom if he would be interested in partially hand coding the site,” Flanagan said.
Newsom teaches classes in web design within the communication department and has also been part of conversations where the department discussed the future of student media.
“We actually had the plans for the website in place long before the Muleskinner went into abeyance but it certainly lit a fire under us to make sure that we got it done, and we got it done right, and that it was a fully functional site for both students who were putting the newspaper together and the university community and Warrensburg community who were reading it,” Newsom said.
Flanagan and Newsom spent the next several months designing, coding and putting content on digitalBurg in order to get it ready for the fall semester.
“We worked hard to make a site that was functional, that was aesthetically pleasing, that was well-organized and was not only functional to readers, but also the Muleskinner staff,” Newsom said.
The site contains new features such as ISSUU, a digital publishing website so that there is a digital version of the paper. digitalBURG has also become a landing site for the other media outlets within the communication department.
“digitalBURG is now just a cover page for the other three sites. The site is now the conduit to Central TV, the Muleskinner, and the Beat,” Flanagan said.
The site now contains article tags for search engine optimization. For example, if a user were to search on the old site “Chuck Ambrose” or “Charles Ambrose” only content with the exact phrasing would return in the search. The new site accounts for SEO and the Muleskinner’s need to archive. Now if you search “Chuck” anything related to “President Charles Ambrose”, “Chuck Ambrose”, “Charles Ambrose” or “UCM President Charles (or Chuck) Ambrose” articles that contain these tags will populate the search.
The communication department chair, Art Rennels said he’s pleased with the direction of the website and the Muleskinner.
“I think it’s heading in a wonderful direction, and it’s going to evolve. I do want to compliment Jacque, she’s done a wonderful job and a lot of hard work over the summer along with Dr. Newsom,” Rennels said.
Newsom said the new site takes into account all the new things the Muleskinner is doing now and anticipates doing in the future. The new site is also responsive, or readable on a mobile device and widescreen monitor.
Rennels said it’s important for the Muleskinner to have a strong web presence, especially now in the current industry.
“The Muleskinner is important, along with the skills that students learn in publishing the Muleskinner and getting it going,” Rennels said. “And clearly journalism, especially for media like newspaper, television and radio and so forth, everybody has to have a web presence and they have to have a strong web presence, so that aspect with the muleskinner going all online, more actively, and more aesthetically appealing; that’s a skill set our students need.”
As far as what readers can expect in the future, Newsom said the next two phases of the process include CentralTV and The Beat, which are the outlets for student television and radio broadcasting.