Looking toward the future of UMaine website 2020

The current design of umaine.edu launched at the start of the 2015 academic year, and introduced a solid platform that allowed for consistency in navigation yet offered flexibility to meet individual website needs. We have continued to expand upon the capabilities of our website over the last several years, introducing features such as online maps alongside feature tweaks and improvements. Our current website is a mature platform; at the same time, newer WordPress developments such as the “Gutenberg” editor and new video capabilities are not yet supported in our current design.

In these last months of 2019, Digital Communications is looking forward, making plans for improvements and new features for the UMaine website. The primary effort in our 2020 website development will focus on the newer Gutenberg editor in WordPress 5. Our evaluation of this feature has found that it is a fundamental change to how web content is edited. We are proceeding carefully and deliberately to ensure our website manager community has proper training and a smooth transition. If you are comfortable using our existing content block system, you will be able to continue using it next year and into 2021. As our website begins to allow for the use of the Gutenberg editor, we will offer training sessions focused on its use (this new training will likely be available in the Fall 2020 semester).

Because the adoption of this new feature is fundamental to WordPress, we will use this opportunity to identify improvements that can be made to the UMaine theme in regards to web accessibility, search optimization, and new features. These improvements will be announced in this newsletter as they take shape— and we want our UMaine website managers to have a voice in this process. Our November newsletter will have a survey to request feedback on the current website, and input into our 2020 website improvement efforts.