Target Audience

SUNY Potsdam is a liberal arts masters degree institution focused on teaching and learning. The target audience for the website consists of faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students.


“Faculty members…[come from]…many different backgrounds and age groups. They hold degrees from such prestigious universities as Harvard, Stanford and Yale. They are published authors, well-known researchers, accomplished artists and musicians. Like their students, they are a friendly, caring group – always ready to discuss a problem or assist with a project. Dedicated to teaching, they are not just active in the classroom, but in every facet of the campus community. Many of our students say they learn as much through friendship and interaction with their professors as they do in classroom studies.”

Potsdam Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2010, from

Undergraduate Students

The majority of undergraduate students are considered to be traditional students who come to the university directly from high school. Most students are between the ages of 18 and 23. There are a total of 45 majors available to students and they range from Anthropology to Women’s & Gender Studies. When working on papers or projects undergraduate students often wait a long time before starting an assignment and usually need help in a short period of time. For example, a student may be given a research assignment a month before it is due; However, they will wait until a week before the due date to start actually working on it.

Graduate Students

The focus of the graduate programs at the university center around Education and Music. The graduate programs in education are designed for people who have earned their initial certification from the state of New York and need a masters degree to complete their academic requirements for professional certification. The program in music has been created to help people explore new ways of understanding music through a variety of different experiences such as composing, teaching, and performing. Students who are pursing a graduate degree have recently earned their Bachelors degree or have been working for less than five years in their field.

“When I look at the education program, I think of the word freedom. My professors gave me the tools to be successful and to be free to go beyond what is now known. When I targeted areas of professional practice that I wanted to improve upon, they said, ‘Great! We’ll help you find a way to get where you want to go!’ It’s a wonderful journey.”

— Tricia Day, Education Major

SUNY Potsdam. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2010, from

The new website will support the mission of SUNY Potsdam.

The State University of New York at Potsdam prepares students to act as engaged global citizens and to lead lives enriched by critical thought, creativity, and discovery. As an inclusive scholarly community rooted in our historic role in providing exemplary teacher and music education and our leadership in the fine and performing arts, we are committed to the liberal arts and sciences as an academic foundation for all students. With an abiding sense of responsibility to our region and to the world beyond, SUNY Potsdam fosters an appreciation of and respect for the variety of human experience.


The website will meet the following criteria:

  • Electronic and Information Technology Standards (also referred to as Section 508) –
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 at the Conformance Level A with a goal of achieving LevelAA –
  • XHTML 1.0 The Extensible HyperText markup Language using the document type definition (DTD) – <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN”””> –

It will involve:

  • usability testing
  • accessibility testing

Two separate style guides will be created for consistency.

  1. Writing Style Guide – The writing style guide will be written to explain how words and phrases will be used throughout the website. For example, it will state how time will be written. i.e. pm or p.m.
  2. Web Style Guide – The web style guide will be created to show how certain elements will be displayed on a web page. For example, paragraph text will be .875ems in size and use the Helevitica font.

The process will be an iterative cycle, which includes designing and prototyping followed by user testing. It will be repeated several times until a new design meets the needs of users.


To make it easier for a person to accomplish a task, answer a question, or locate a piece of information. Some important questions that a library website at a university should answer include:

  • What time is the library open?
  • How do you find a book?
  • Is the library currently hiring students?

Current Website

The current website was created by librarians for librarians and not the SUNY Potsdam community. Unfortunately the current website is not meeting the needs of the community for a variety of different reasons. At the moment we are having to tell a person where to go inside of the current website to locate information that will be useful. One of the indicators that indicates a website has failed is when you have to teach or show someone how to find something.

“We have learned to live in a world of mistakes and defective products as if they were necessary to life. It is time to adopt a new philosophy…”

— W. Edwards Deming – Professor, writer, and consultant.

New Website

The new website will need to support the mission of the university, library, and the community that it serves. According to the current website the mission of the library is “Supporting learning for the college community through information resources and services”.

A library website will be available to help answer a reference question all by itself. As stated earlier students tend to wait a long period of time before starting an assignment and the libraries website should help assist them with whatever their information need happens to be. It needs to represent the intellectual knowledge that the building has available in a variety of different formats that include, but not limited to books, electronic resources, sound recordings, and university records. The SUNY Potsdam libraries are regarded in high esteem by both faculty and students and the library website must be held accountable to the high standards that have been set.

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