Penn introduces new look, features for Web

Dr. Dog, Bob Mould at 'XPN festival

The new academic year brings a much-improved home for the Penn on the web—the first redesign of the University’s homepage in five years.

The redesigned site (, as well as a news and events site called the Penn Digest (, officially launched on Aug. 22, after nearly a year of planning and work from the Office of University Communications’ web and publishing team. Deni Kasrel, director of web and publishing for the University, says the redesign has made the Penn homepage brighter, bolder and more inviting than ever before.

“It was time for a fresh look,” Kasrel says. “We were really limited in our old design, especially in our ability to showcase Penn photographically. We wanted to be able to offer a more compelling vision of Penn.”

The new page does just that, using nearly screen-sized photos of campus scenes, athletic events, research and community outreach to illustrate what Penn has to offer. As a result, new visitors to the site, Kasrel says, will get a truer sense of Penn—its campus, its people, its vision—than ever before.
“It’s extremely important today that a visitor’s first contact with a university is a positive one,” Kasrel says. “The home page really is the front door to Penn. It’s our gateway.”

Early response to the redesign has been favorable, Kasrel says. “When we put the site through usability tests, the response was unanimously positive,” Kasrel says. “People were very taken by it, because it’s visually very striking.”

The home page offers more than just a new, striking design, however. University webmail, one of the most commonly accessed features of the Penn web, can now be accessed directly from the home page. Meanwhile, the new Penn Digest will collect news and features from across the University, all in one place.

“The idea behind the Penn Digest was to provide a bigger presence for University news,” Kasrel says.

Originally published Sept. 6, 2007.

Originally published on September 6, 2007