Decorating the front door of GPSC
-- Thoughts on strengthening GPSC website
One Overarching Goal: Clean & Attractive
Website is the front door of GPSC, meaning someone will learn about us through the website. Maybe it is a prospective student who has offers from several top universities and ponders his choice based on which one can provide a full-blown experience; maybe it is a first year GnP student who is overwhelmed; maybe it is a student group leader who needs to find some information. In any case, we need to make our front door clean and attractive.
Five Website: Peer Learning
Let’s first take a few minutes to navigate the “GPSC” websites of five other top universities.
Harvard (link) Yale (link) Princeton (link) Cornell (link) Stanford (link)
You might come to a conclusion. Yale, Princeton , Cornell are mediocre, Harvard and Stanford are good. None is excellent. Nevertheless, we could learn from them, and do a better job!
Three Steps: Make Ours Better
Now comes to our own website (link), which contains a reasonable amount of information and looks pretty good. But we could always make things better, here are three steps.
Step 1: A quick glance
Step 2: A more detailed analysis
Let me pick up four categories on our website and analyze one by one.
When we talk about preserving organizational memory, it is a good idea to list the past executive board members (at least Presidents) with their photos and introduction here. This really gives people the sense of continuity. Otherwise nobody knows Robert, Heather, Bill and Audrey and their contributions to GPSC.
A good example is Gautham’s profile on International House’s website (link)
This is much more vivid, do you agree?
Many GnP students either don’t know GPSC or have a vague idea that GPSC is just a social venue. Can we do a better job here to advertise GPSC? For example, we can list a few facts here,
We should also highlight a few past achievements, such as “Ph.D students, do you know who makes it possible that Graduate School pays your health insurance?”
Can photos of past Campout be added? I feel basketball is something UNIQUE about Duke. But there is nothing there which can give visitors strong visual impact. Videos should also come into play. Blue Planet made a video of GPSC campout on Youtube, we should simply post it on our website! (link)
Posting a few video (hundreds on Youtube!) links which highlight Cameron Craziness (sample link1) (link 2)or classic games (sample link1) will also make a difference.
All the past meeting minutes are posted there. The problem is: it takes the executive secretary so much time to record the meeting minute, but not many people would actually read them. On the other hand, there were a couple of wonderful events each year, can we single out them and list them separately in the past events? For example, Provost Lange addressed the strategic plan last year and we should list these materials separately, so that all GnP students will easily find it. (I am not saying minutes are not important, but we can do both)
Another thing is, Chronicle usually covers each GA meeting, can we make a “media coverage” which gives link to Chronicle stories? Stanford has done something similiar. (link) In this way, visitors will have a good idea of what is happening in GA meetings, as well as the influence of GPSC!
4. Young Trustee(link)
Young Trustee selection each year is one of the most important agendas. The selection commitee always works hard in terms of publicity. I feel a good introduction on webpage could BOOST people's interests. For someone who first gets to know YT position, can we list all the past Graduate Young Trustee since its establishment? A brief history review? A brief introduction of the past YTs? At least there were a lot of stories on Chronicle, can we provide the links to the stories? The current issues on BOT’s table? Cornell has a webpage which preserves the institutional memory. (link)
Step 3: We can do even better—Yes, we can!(link)
1. GPSC news website?
Last time GPSC renounced the idea of launching a special edition in Chronicle. We can actually do the same thing for FREE on our website. We should solicit articles from GnP students, talking about their life. One good example is Fuquatimes, the weekly student-run publication. (link) You can find a lot of interesting stories here. We can post their stories so that graduate students will get to know Fuqua. Graduate school also has its own publication- The GRIND (link). We can collaborate with them.
2. Central Information Hub
A. Interdisciplinary study opportunities.
What are the resources available to GnP students? For example, how can I get a certificate in global health institute?
B. bread-and-butter issues, such as campus safety, Graduate Student Center
C. Career Information
Career service is something Graduate students have long complained. If GPSC plays a more active role here, it will definitely change its reputation of being only a “social organization”. The first thing we can do is to list more online career resources. A "model" webpage from Stanford (link)
D. Alumni Contact
Duke has a great website DukeConnect(link). But many GnP students are not aware of it. Alumni mentoring now plays an increasing important role in GnP students’ growth. GPSC could actually tap into this area and do some pioneering work.
Three final thoughts
1. To gauge students’ interests, it is necessary to keep track of visitor’ activities. The solution to this is to install Google Analytics and we will have a good idea of the number of daily visitors and which page they are most interested.
2. Time. If the new committee likes these ideas, the best time to do it is this summer, before the new student orientation begins, which is a perfect timing to gain loyal users.
3. Once the traffic flow increases, we can brainstorm more ideas such as how to make website more interactive. In that case, GPSC website is like a two-way street, we learn from GnP students' need through this medium and GnP students get to know our work!
Thank you for taking time to read it! Any suggestions? Please drop me an email!