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ISSUE 118 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/3/2004

55057.com caters to specific needs

By Kelly Wilson
Staff Writer


Friday, December 3, 2004

The St. Olaf community prides itself on its excellent relations between students and the administration.

Whether helping students organize financial plans, secure an internship or sort out career goals, students can find relief from any quandary with a little help from one of the many administration branches.

The Student Government Association (SGA) follows this mantra, and one specific medium it uses to aid students is the website 55057.com.

55057.com was formed out of humble beginnings. At birth, it was a joint Carleton/St. Olaf site with a general format, more tailored to the public rather than the specific St. Olaf audience it targets now. The format overhaul came last year when the alumni who ran it offered the site to SGA free of charge.

Currently, a paid staff member runs the site and handles the brunt of the web upkeep.

An easier-to-use format and wealth of information available on 55057.com are not the only changes made to the website by SGA.

The site is now specifically geared to St. Olaf students, catering to virtually their every whim and desire.

With news links, an event calendar, and even public forums, 55057.com is now "student focused," said Janine Wetzel '05, vice president of SGA.

Rather than a broader, more comprehensive site, aimed at providing information to every visitor, 55057.com is aimed specifically towards supplying students with information and a more convenient way to surf the Web.

With such a student-friendly purpose, SGA knew its message needed to be heard.

Heavy publicity helped to increase the site'’s popularity. "We pushed it really hard, and PR-ed it really well," Wetzel said.

Apparently, their efforts paid off. The website'’s hits increased from 800 last year to 1,400 this year, meaning that over a third of campus has been using 55057.com.

Despite its positive attributes, the website'’s real credibility test lies with students.

While many students reported having visited the site at least once, they were still unfamiliar with it, and some reported never having been there at all.

One avid user, Becca Wheeler '07, who uses the site as her home page, praised its convenience and wealth of helpful information.

Simultaneously, she noted its lack of aesthetic appeal and occasional current-information blips, specifically with the calendar.

"The idea is great, but its actual functionality is not quite as impressive,”" Wheeler said. "“Compared to the St. Olaf website, it'’s more useful, but less appealing."”

However, like any good forum, 55057.com is constantly changing and developing.

"Students are responding well and we’re trying to make it better because of that response," Seth Heringer '05, SGA president.

As more students discover the resource and provide more feedback, SGA will be able to adapt the site to the needs of the student body.





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