HottyToddy.com is back this semester with a new look and improved mission – to provide a #realworldrightnow experience for student journalists and a more attractive, user-friendly design for UM readers and beyond.
Rachel West, an integrated marketing communications instructor and manager of HottyToddy.com, said the website relaunch has been a goal for more than a year.
“As our world becomes more based in digital information, we also become more visual,” she said. “We recognized that HottyToddy.com needed to have a larger visual presence. We needed video on the site. We needed a more dynamic site and different ways of being interactive.”
Since the website moved on campus to the School of Journalism and New Media about two years ago, West said leaders have added content that became taxing for the website infrastructure.
“It’s not just that we wanted it to look different,” she said. “We needed more tools to be able to do the best job we could do with the information that we have.”
Scott Fiene, assistant dean for curriculum and assessment and associate professor of integrated marketing communications, said the website upgrade was a natural evolution.
“A lot of the work really represents the input and ideas from a lot of different people in our school and outside our school,” he said, “and we just wanted to take it to the next level. We have a more appealing and functional design and more content, and so we needed a way to display that content.”
Fiene said updating the site is a big step, and it will be an ongoing process.
“We will continue to make changes as we go because that is the nature of digital media today,” he said.
Hannah Vines, graphic designer for the School of Journalism and New Media, said one of the most important changes was creating a look that engages the user without being too busy.
“When we asked Scott Fiene’s campaigns class what changes they would make to the site, a lot of the responses were to make it more visually stimulating and incorporate imagery,” Vines said. “Since the college-age demographic is one we’d like to see more readership from, we listened.
“We implemented a scrolling news slider, a social media feed and video content on the homepage to achieve that. Another important change was overall site organization. We reworked our categories to be as intuitive as possible. I think the best way we did this was by putting three categories that are very relevant to our audience at the forefront of the homepage.”
Vines said she hopes HottyToddy.com continues to be a place where students can express their creativity and gain real-world experience.
“The internships offered allow students to learn new skills and do great work – whether in Farley or remotely,” she said. “The staff has a lot of experience that they are able to pass along to students, which is very beneficial to our school. My first internship was actually with HottyToddy.com, and I gained some very valuable skills (and eventually a job!) from that.”
Since the fall of 2018, West said they have worked with hundreds of students, giving them the opportunity to have their work published on the site.
“Our focus, mission and desire is that we can offer as many opportunities to as many students to have real world, hands-on experience,” she said. “We can, hopefully, grow the site through the involvement of students in a real working environment and learn through that process.”
Fiene said the site has always served the UM community, Oxford residents and alumni.
“This design will make it even easier for those groups to hone in and find the information that they want,” he said. “It is a really good design in functionality. It not only looks nicer and allows us to display more content, but it will make it easier for users to navigate to the information they are looking for.”
Visit https://www.hottytoddy.com/ to take a look.