News & Updates

Important Website Security Update: June 30, 2015

Today (Tuesday June 30, 2015) Web Communications and ITS discovered and fixed a security issue with our web server. As a precautionary measure, the website was restored to a previous state.


No personal employee data was available on our web server. No personal data was exposed in any way.

For WordPress Editors

Any web changes that have been made since Friday 6/26 have been lost.
You will need to re-do any website edits that you may have made since Friday.

We know this stinks. So… We’re here to help. If you need assistance, please fill out the Web Change Request Form, mention “security update” in the comments, and we will prioritize your request and assist you as soon as possible.

Within the next week, you will be asked to reset your WordPress password.
While we do not believe that any passwords have been compromised, as a precaution we will be forcing a password change. We will send an email within the next week with instructions. No action is required yet.

In General

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation! We will communicate further as needed.

If you have questions for us, please don’t hesitate to let us know:

General Inquiries: (goes to both Jesse and Sean)

Jesse Lavery, Director of Web Communications:

Sean O’Connor, Associate Director of Web Communications:

Web Change Request Form

Reintroducing: Boxes

Having launched a newly redesigned College home page in April 2013 and a newly redesigned template for all of the other “official” sites that are in our content management system in the Fall of 2013, we currently in a phase of enhancing and iterating on those designs. In any major redesign project, there are always features that get put on the back burner in the name of getting the project released on time. One of those for us was boxes – which we’re proud to reintroduce now.

What is a box?

This is a box.

Boxes are an extremely versatile tool for showcasing and featuring content in different ways. The best way to explain that is to show some real world examples.


In this example, Admissions uses boxes to highlight information for home-schooled applicants: the grey box to highlight the CEEB code and the tip box to highlight an extra explanation about the unique application process for home-schooled students.


The Security office uses a download box to highlight a downloadable PDF report.

Computing Services

Computing Services uses an info box to highlight a timely update for campus wireless users with a certain type of laptop.

Using Boxes

Boxes are extremely easy to use. We’ve done all of the design and formatting for you. Simply wrap your content in a WordPress shortcode and your content will appear in the style of box you choose. We supply the icons and the colors, you supply the content.

A complete guide to the types of available boxes and how to use them is featured in our Web Editors Guide.

See what we did there?

If you have questions or would like specific training on using boxes, let us know via our WordPress Training Form. And if YOU have a cool example of how you’re using boxes, let us know!


Bicentennial Website Updates

One of the coolest things about our job right now is having the opportunity to help tell the story of Allegheny’s upcoming Bicentennial.

The latest updates to the Bicentennial website offer sneak peeks at the amazing “legacy projects” that are in the works. Included: renderings of the planned Bicentennial Plaza, samples of bronze historical timeline plaques and mockups of street banners. And there’s more coming soon!

Learn More


New Feature: “People and Places” Imported to Department Blogs

This is the first post in a series that will take you behind the scenes and introduce you to a number of new features and enhancements that we built into the new WordPress theme that launched in October 2013.

For many years now, we in the campus community have had the pleasure of reading “People and Places” — a monthly digest of academic and professional accomplishments of our students and faculty. There are so many great stories in those monthly emails; the problem is, not enough people see or hear about these stories and accomplishments.

Introducing: “Academics, Publications & Research”

As of this summer, People and Places stories are now being featured on the News & Events website under the category Academics, Publications & Research.

Academics, Publications and Research

But wait – there’s more!

What if I told you we could auto-magically push that same content out to relevant department and office websites? Well we can!

When stories get added to the News website (by our staff – no extra effort needed from you, the WordPress editor), they also get tagged by department or academic interest area. If the story applies to more than one area, no problem. It gets tagged accordingly.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.14.55 AM

And then the magic happens. With no extra work, the same story gets published to the News website and any related site, based on the tags. Pretty cool.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.35.26 AM


No longer are these amazing stories of academic accomplishment buried in the dark corners of an email inbox. They’re on the main Allegheny News website and they’re on the news feeds of any relevant department or office website. And it’s automated.

Win, win, win.

Website Design Update

I hope everyone had a great summer and a smooth transition back into classes and all the fun that comes with a busy, buzzing campus!

WordPress Theme Update

When I last emailed you in the spring, I announced that we were starting development on a new design for any website that lives within WordPress. That development work is now complete and the big day has arrived: we are starting to roll out the new theme this week!

Here is the current plan for roll-out:

  • There are just over 150 sites that we’ll need to convert to the new design.
  • We will need to apply the new theme one site at a time in order to properly test that everything works as planned.
  • We are prioritizing sites that live within the “families” of websites that are represented by the new global navigation on the home page: Admissions, Academics, About Allegheny, and Alumni. Our plan is to have the 70 or so sites that fall under that umbrella transitioned by Friday, October 4th — and continue to proceed from there.


What This Means For You

When your site is transitioned, we’ll send you an email to let you know the new design is live. With that announcement, we’ll send you a link to a special Wufoo form through which you can submit any bugs/issues/problems that you see. Please use that form (vs. emailing one of us individually) as the form results will automatically enter into our bug-tracking system, accessible by the whole team.

As for editors… Everything you do will continue to work the exact same way. Have no fear!

We are introducing a few exciting new features. We will share more about those features in the coming weeks:

  • We will have an opportunity to meet with Building Coordinators at your October Instructional Technology luncheon. (Exact date TBA.) Thanks to Mike & Helen for their assistance with this!
  • For those of you that do not attend those lunches, we will plan to introduce new features to you in the very near future as well. In November, we are starting annual website reviews which will provide us an opportunity to meet with you, talk about your web wishes and concerns, answer questions you may have, etc. (More on that — including a full schedule — coming soon!)
  • We will also continually update our online Web Editors Guide to reflect any changes that we’ve made and instructions for how to use the new features.

Thank you all in advance for your patience as we implement the new design. We are very excited about it and we know you will be, too!

Jesse Lavery & Sean O’Connor

Web Server Migration – Success!

Photo by Serge Melki
Photo by Serge Melki

For the last few months, Web Communications has worked closely with our colleagues in Technical & Network Services to plan and carry out a migration of our website from one web server to another. That changeover happened yesterday, Wednesday July 17th, and went great. All of the public-facing pieces of Allegheny’s website are now up-and-running on the new server.

What does that mean for you?

WordPress Editors

There will be no change whatsoever to your process. You will go to the same address to login, use the same username and password, and everything about the experience will the same.

(For a refresher on processes, procedures, tutorials, etc. visit our Web Editors Guide. And if you need followup training or additional assistance, let us know via our Training Request Form.)

Website Readers/Visitors

The biggest change is something that you will hopefully never, ever notice: stability. The new server gives us better redundancy and scalability. What does that mean? In the event of a spike in traffic, the website will be fine. If problems occur (it’s rare, but it happens) with our primary web server, we seamlessly transition over to a secondary server. And if some software update breaks things, we can easily revert to a previous version thanks to robust back-ups.

Wrapping Up

If you do notice anything strange with the website, let us know by emailing:

Thank you to all of our WordPress editors for your patience during our brief downtime and thanks to everyone involved in the migration process, most of all Tim and Doug in TNS.


Mobile Friendly My Allegheny

The Allegheny College family of websites has continued to evolve in many exciting ways lately, including in April when we launched a redesign of the home page.  One reason this launch was exciting is because it was our first “mobile first” website, which is a way of saying the website works great and looks great no matter what device you’re using, from mobile to desktop. During that same time, we revealed that mobile first web design will be our new focus, meaning that we intend to have the vast majority of new websites that we launch to be mobile friendly. Any website under should work on any device, from mobile to desktop.

So, we’re excited to announce our latest progress in meeting our goal: My Allegheny. On first glance, you might take a look and think it basically looks the same (on desktop at least). This is intentional. Instead of completely redesigning the website like we did for the home page, we looked to keep the fairly new design of My Allegheny, and add support for smaller devices.

My Allegheny desktop and mobile will keep all of the same features
My Allegheny’s look and feel is kept alive on mobile phones

Part of our mobile first philosophy is that websites viewed on mobile devices should not be compromised in its usability, features, or design. That was our main concern with how the My Allegheny functioned (or didn’t function) on mobile devices before. The only feature that was present was the news feed, which didn’t make sense for the majority of users that used the site in many other ways.

Before and After
The before version My Allegheny website is missing a lot of features, which are now present

So, again, this is another preview to what we have in store this year for the entirety of the websites. In the mean time, let us know what you think of the newest change to My Allegheny by clicking on the following button and filling out the form.


Allegheny website feedback form

Frequently Asked Questions About

Thank you to everyone in the campus community who submitted feedback about the newly redesigned Allegheny College home page.

Feedback Summary, by percentage:
[chart data=”76,11,13″ labels=”Positive|Neutral|Negative” colors=”00a651|feda48|b0232a” type=”pie”]

Below, you will answers to some common questions that we received and a log of changes that we made in response to your feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions

It would be nice to highlight (event / program / initiative) in the large slider at the top of the page.

You’re reading our minds. :)

That’s exactly the idea behind the sliders: a flexible space in which we can highlight the latest and greatest happenings in the classroom, accolades the college receives, student research accomplishments, athletic achievements, alumni achievements, visit opportunities for prospective students, etc.

With the use of great photography and bold, typically non-Allegheny colors (pink and orange and green), we have an opportunity to shine a great spotlight on our awesome community.

The new home page highlights the (department name) Department. Will it always be something from that one department?

Great question. The “spotlight” will change each week. Our vision for that spot is that it will often feature an overview of a particular academic department, but we will also be able to highlight other initiatives and achievements (research accomplishments, interdisciplinary programs, etc.).

Can you add (name of website) to the A-to-Z list of campus resources on the Resources website?

As a result of some great help from the community, we added the following links on Thursday April 4th:

  • Backgrounds
  • Bookstore
  • Faculty Handbook
  • Help Desk
  • Honor Code
  • Informer
  • President’s Office
  • Provost, Dean of the College
  • Report a Concern
  • Scheduler
  • Statement of Community
  • Strategic Plan
  • Student Disability Services
  • Wufoo

Why doesn’t the home page have a link for (current student resource)?

On-campus audiences (current students, faculty, administrators, and staff) should think of My Allegheny as their home page.

The primary audiences for the main home page at are those that are outside of campus: prospective students & their families, prospective faculty & staff, interested community members, etc.

Given that philosophy, the home page is intentionally an overview, rather than a comprehensive directory, with its simplified navigation acting as a hub to get to other audience-specific “home pages”:

  • My Allegheny, the very first link on the page, directing on-campus users to their most relevant needs
  • Admissions, for prospective students
  • Academics, for anyone interested in learning more about our programs
  • Alumni, directing alums to Alumni Affairs which itself is a hub to a robust collection of resources for our proud alumni
  • etc.

Regarding the “Photo of the Week”… Can it link to more information about the photo? Can people submit photos for consideration?

Yes and yes.

We’re changing the Photo of the Week on the home page to link to more explanation about the particular photo and also a gallery of past “winners”.

The Photo of the Week on the home page will actually be the same photo that we feature as our “Photo Friday” winner on Facebook and Twitter. (Just another way we’re trying to bridge the gap between different resources)

Other changes and fixes:

  • Changed the title of the academic spotlight to make it more clear that the “spotlight” will not always feature the same department. (Old: “Art Department Spotlight”. New: “Department Spotlight: Art”.) – (4/8/13)
  • Fixed a bug where the social media icons weren’t loading in Firefox – (4/8/13)
  • Made the “Give to Allegheny” links in the header and footer bolder – (4/5/13)
  • Added small sliders for “Make a gift online” and “About this site” – (4/5/13)
  • Fixed the links for “Offices” and “Student Resources” in the top bar – (4/4/13)
  • Fixed the link for the “Learn More” button in the By The Numbers section – (4/3/13)

What’s Cool About The New

The new home page launched on April 8, 2013!


We’re excited to share with you the next evolution of Allegheny’s web site. The emphasis has been on making a site that is not only attractive but more easily navigable, scalable to all of the different devices that people use to connect to the web, and accessible to all. In brief points below, we’ll explain what problems we solved, why this matters, and why we believe this new home page design paves the way for even more excitement in the future.

Although the redesign is mainly confined to the college’s home page for now, we’ll be bringing the rest of our sites into the redesign over the summer. This is simply Phase 1 of an ongoing project, with the site continuing to evolve in the months ahead as we respond to opportunities to make it even better.

Thank you for sharing your feedback with us, and we hope you’re as excited about the redesign as we are.

Guiding Principles

1. Content First! Everything started with content.

We did an extensive audit of the content on the existing home page, traffic across all of Allegheny’s websites, heat-mapping on the home page (we can see exactly where users click), terms that users search for when using our on-site search feature, and then matched that data to our college-wide communications goals and to the Strategic Plan. It was only after we were satisfied with what the content needed to be that we moved on to wireframes and visual design.

This led to…

2. Simplified Navigation

The old 2007-era home page had over 150 links and no clear hierarchy. In plain English: users were overwhelmed with choices and didn’t know where to click.

In the new design…

We have clear top-level choices:

  • Admissions
  • Academics
  • About
  • Athletics
  • Alumni

At the very top of the site, we have links that will get you literally everywhere else on our site:

  • My Allegheny (the “home page” for on-campus audiences)
  • an A-to-Z listing of everything at Allegheny (if we left anything out, let us know)
  • a list of administrative offices
  • a list of student resources
  • and, finally, a search box.

Best of all, once this design is rolled out to the rest of the website, regardless of what site you’re on, those two main levels of navigation will be persistent across the whole of Allegheny’s web presence.

3. Design for Mobile First

Traffic to websites via mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) is growing rapidly across the internet in general, and even more so across higher ed. Our design process started with mobile-sized screens and moved up from there, utilizing modern web technologies (such as Responsive Web Design) to ensure that the website would scale in order to be usable on any modern web-enabled device. This enabled us to design not just for the specific devices of today, but to design for what the web will be. From your new phone to your new car with a touchscreen, to your HD TV, this new design should scale appropriately across all platforms, providing a full-featured experience across the board.

4. Accessibility

We’re also very concerned about optimizing our website for users with disabilities. Gone are elements of the page that rely on images-only for conveying a message. Even the large “sliders” at the top of the new home page are now plain text overlaid on top of a photo, making the text readable by screen readers and other assistive technologies.

5. Put our users first and reorganize content based on them.

In the past, we have tended to organize our web content based on our organizational chart. The problem there is that a new visitor to Allegheny’s website doesn’t know a thing about our internal structure. For example, gone is the “Administration” link, replaced by more easily discoverable links to a more robust Resources website.

What’s Next?

First of all, we’re excited to hear your feedback!

Moving forward, we will…

Roll out this design to all official Allegheny sites.

Academic departments, administrative offices, and everyone in between can benefit from the above enhancements — and more that are on the way. We will roll out the new design to all sites that are in our WordPress content management system over the summer of 2013.

Continue to develop supporting content and websites.

As we said at the top of this page, this is simply Phase 1, the cornerstone of a more awesome future web presence. A few examples…

We have a ton of opportunities to further develop the About Allegheny site, especially in light of our upcoming Bicentennial. We want the Resources site to continue to evolve as well. We have a long list of sites that can benefit from the more robust platform that a design like this provides. (Seriously. You should see our list.)

Continue to iterate on all of the above.

Perhaps the biggest change for those of us “behind the curtain” of this redesign is the fact that this introduces a more flexible framework on which to build new cool things. We’ve been very limited to this point by old visual design and old code. We have opportunities now to be more flexible, more innovative, and more bold — which all supports the goal of meeting the needs of our prospective and current students and their families. (And the cool thing is, when you do that, all other audiences benefit too!)


This type of project can’t be done by just Jesse Lavery and Sean O’Connor. This was the collective work of Web Communications, the Communications Leadership Team, and countless others across campus who have offered their expertise, input, feedback, and support.

Thank you all!

Style Guide and Editor Cards

As many of Allegheny College’s Web Editors are aware of, there is a Web Editors Guide on the Web Communications website created as a guide for running individual sites, but since it’s a fairly new addition to the site, not every Editor know that it’s out there. There are also new features added to the website that are made available to all Editors, but, again, there’s the challenge of making people aware of what is available to them.  To solve this, there are several new resources being made available to Editors:

Web Style Guide

The new Web Style Guide is a page showcasing what an Allegheny WordPress page looks like in function, and shows what the standard stylings and features are. This is a great place to see what features have been made available to Editors, like content boxes, buttons, columns, and image galleries.

Web Editor Card

The freshly printed tent cards serve as a quick reference for important web addresses relevant to Editors, so there’s never any question about where you can go for support. These are printed and available, just email and ask for a card.

Dashboard Editor Help

Editors can now easily access all forms of support from inside the WordPress dashboard through the Editor Help button in the navigation. From the Editor Help page, Editors can quickly access important resources relevant to working in WordPress:  the Editor Guide, Web Style Guide, the Web Communications website, and contact information.

Only those with an Allegheny WordPress account will be able to access this page

The ultimate goal for all of these features is to improve Allegheny’s web presence by giving content creators and Web Editors the tools they need to improve their own department’s websites. If you have any questions about any of these new features, let me and Jesse know at our new email address at