Office of Communications

Our New Website Is On the Way

February 3, 2017

To: Faculty and Staff

Dear colleagues,

We plan to launch the first phase of the redesigned public website on our new content management platform, Drupal, at the end of next week. The work will continue in phases through spring semester and summer.

We’re excited about the new design, which offers a more contemporary look and feel and does a better job of conveying the sense of energy that we all feel on the Oberlin campus every day. It also has been designed to be mobile-friendly throughout, while significantly improving our ability to cross-pollinate and curate content. The new design and organization of the site is aimed primarily at prospective students to help them gain a better understanding of what Oberlin is all about as they decide where to apply and enroll.

By launching in phases, we’ll be able to reduce the degree of disruption at any one time. Even so, any change like this will always cause some amount of concern, so I’ve outlined some of the key points to keep in mind.

1. Which websites (or parts of websites) will be affected?
In this first phase, the new site will include:

  • The Oberlin homepage (
  • Upper level pages for prospective students and other external audiences (Conservatory and College landing pages, About Oberlin, etc.)
  • Admissions (both College and Conservatory)
  • News ( and
  • Areas of study (a new section that highlights college and conservatory majors, minors and concentrations)
  • Faculty bios (migrating these from our old content management system, DotCMS)
  • Academic departments (front page only; other department pages will remain in DotCMS for now)
  • Student and Faculty/Staff landing pages ( and
  • Events calendar (imported from, which will remain functioning)

We'll have a period of a few months where we are maintaining multiple systems as we continue moving pages into the new system. During this time we'll move the office websites that are currently in DotCMS, along with the remaining pages from the academic department sites.

2. Which websites are NOT affected?
Our focus is on the external-facing websites created and supported by Communications, which means the following sites and systems will not be affected by this project:

  • Blackboard
  • Banner
  • Admissions portal (
  • Alumni portal (
  • Gift planning (
  • Large HTML sites on www/www2 such as Library, AMAM (a future goal, but not part of this Spring's project)
  • Small HTML sites on www/www2 such as faculty, staff, and department pages
  • Course catalog (
  • Athletics ( 

... and more. If you have any concerns about a particular site, please let us know.

3. What will happen with the "www" prefix in
In order to simplify the experience for website visitors, several of the current prefixes (home, news, new, oncampus) will go away, and the new site will use "www". If you have a site on www, the prefix will change to www2. But don't be alarmed -- with the help of CIT, we're setting up the new server to automatically forward traffic for existing sites. So if someone types in "" for the Allen museum site, it will work. The server will know to redirect the browser to "".

(If the inner workings of the domain name system and HTTP requests make your eyes glaze over, here's what it boils down to: if a "www" site stops working after the new site goes live, let us know and we'll fix it.)

4. Will there be training?
Oh yes, there will be training! We're focused on getting the site launched right now, but as soon as that happens, we'll invite your web editors to be trained on the new system.

Finally, we appreciate your help and patience! We undoubtedly will be scrambling to fix things the first couple of days. If something doesn’t work right, don’t assume we know about it — please contact us at to let us know. At the same time, please be aware that we’ll be in “triage” mode, taking care of the most critical problems first, so we might not be able to answer right away. 

I hope you like the new site! It represents a great deal of work and commitment by the web team, of whom I’m very proud. We’ve also received enormous contributions from others in the communications office and around campus. This project never could have gotten off the ground without so much support.

Best regards,

Bill Denneen
Director of Web Initiatives
Office of Communications