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15 April, 2010

VCUQatar Launches New Website with Dynamic Features

In an effort to be more accessible and leading with cutting-edge design, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar announces the launch of its new, revamped website.

The site www.qatar.vcu.edu has been completely re-structured and re-built with accessibility and usability in mind. All the design and development was done in-house by the VCUQatar Design Studio which is made of Qatari, American, Saudi and European designers and developers. Balal Khan, the web developer and Jordan Gushwa, the graphic designer also involved the teaching faculty and students at VCUQatar to help decide the design of the site. “We originally designed three different websites and asked for feedback, and then in the next step, refined the top choice until we had a design we were happy with,” said Jordan Gushwa. The technical build was done relatively quickly, in a matter of weeks.

While the old site served the university well, VCUQatar felt the need for a more flexible website to serve the various communities and patrons in Qatar, the GCC and the international design profession. Different kinds of information such as events, photos, videos and podcasts will be embedded in the coming days to the new site. From a marketing perspective, the university wanted to improve the way it promoted events and lectures that took place in VCUQatar. “Almost every week there is something interesting happening such as a lecture, community class or gallery opening, we wanted to make it easy for people to discover what is going on,” said Balal Khan. “Having an easy to use website is the most important goal for us. We’re hoping that if you’re thinking of studying at or learning about VCUQatar, the information you need is now easy to find.”

Over the summer, Mr. Khan has plans to incorporate more student and faculty work and projects, which will include image galleries, audio and video. In addition, Tasmeem, the biennial international design conference hosted by VCUQatar with the next conference to be held in spring 2011, will also launch its own sister website very soon with a blog and information about the conference.

“The site is currently in its infancy, but ultimately, we’re hoping to set a new standard in web design in Qatar with regards to creative and technical excellence,” said Mr. Khan. “Sites in Qatar are only just beginning to experiment with web 2.0 technologies, so over the next year and in the future, we’re hoping to showcase how next-generation design can help achieve an organization’s online goals and create a unique and satisfying experience for visitors.” To help do this, the VCUQatar Design Studio will soon start a web design community forum for people in Qatar to meet, discuss and share their knowledge of leading-edge design and development.

“I am thrilled that we have been able to bring out some of the best in both design and technology breakthroughs that the internet has to offer on our new website,” said Moamer Qazafi, director of Marketing and Public Relations at VCUQatar, during the launch. “We are listening to our community and the improvements to both the form and function are significant from our previous site. The most important thing for our community to note is that there is something for everyone on the new site. From prospective students, to professionals to our general fan and enthusiast in Qatar, you will find something to participate in via events, conferences and activities at our new site. I hope people come try it out and email us their feedback to INFO@qatar.vcu.edu.”

“The first stage of our new website is a significant step to provide a space to inform, engage and learn with our communities throughout the world. The website is the vital component of the university’s reach and will help us meet our goals to support both VCU’s 2020 vision and the 2030 Qatar National Vision,” said VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone.

(L to R) Balal Khan, web developer at VCUQatar and Jordan Gushwa, graphic designer at VCUQatar unveiling the new VCUQatar website

(L to R) Balal Khan, web developer at VCUQatar and Jordan Gushwa, graphic designer at VCUQatar unveiling the new VCUQatar website