Tuesday, April 02, 2002

MU students make artful museum site

By Gwen Davis
Enquirer contributor

A screen shot of the taftmuseum.org Web site.
(Staff screen shot)
| ZOOM |
        The Taft Museum is closed for renovations, but a new state-of-the-art Web site designed by Miami University students offers a glimpse of it anyway. The www.taftmuseum.org site was launched in conjunction with the university's Center for Interactive Media Studies (IMS).

        This project is special because of its a collaborative flavor and the chance it gave Miami students to do professional work. The Interactive Media Studies program (www.muohio.edu/ims/welcome2.html) allows students to participate in a variety of projects, including Web design for major companies in the Tristate.

        Getting in to an IMS program isn't easy. Only 16 of 60 applicants were accepted. They came from different academic programs, including graphic design, systems analysis, management information systems, creative writing, business management and mass communications to form a team to design the new museum Web site.

        “The program's purpose is to connect students with real clients and real projects in the non-academic world,” says Glenn Platt, director of the IMS program.

        Work on the Taft Museum Web site includes:
       • Interactive events calendar
       • Collections database
       • Membership purchase/Renewals
       • Secure online museum shop
       • Museum member-only area

        “The old Web site wasn't up to date. The students really enjoyed the project and I was very impressed with their redesign. It's classy and it captures the essence of the Taft,” says Tamera Muente, museum communication officer.

        Lea R. Emery, Taft Museum deputy director of external affairs and administration, said “Redesigning our Web site was an integral part of our strategic plan, but we were unable to find the human and financial resources to accomplish the goal. It took us a little over two years to complete the Web site redesign, including quotes, design and implementation.”'

        Site renovations would have cost an estimated $60,000, but the Miami students saved the museum money without sacrificing quality and innovation. A tagline at the bottom of the site indicates their designer status.

        For more information about the Taft Museum of Art and the Web site, call Ms. Muente at 241-0343, Ext. 36. For information on the Interactive Media Studies at Miami University, call Mr. Platt at (513) 529-1258.

        MySpark sidekick: If you signed up for MySpark (www.sparkpeople.com/myspark) earlier this year, you'll like the new desktop companion, which allows users to receive full features without going online. The program is designed to pop up on your screen anytime with friendly reminders of the goals you've set. When you connect to the MySpark Web site, it will update your goals and accomplishments automatically. For more information about MySpark call Mike Kramer 241-6470.

        Free mail: Don't be in an e-mail pinch ever again when on the road. Free e-mail accounts are available through www.hotmail.com and www.yahoo.com. There are some limitations, but it can help you in a pinch.

       E-mail Gwen Davis at wiredcincy@hotmail.com.


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